San Francisco: It’s
been a long time since I have driven a Corvette so seeing the ’05
version in the flesh, colloquially know as the C6 because it is the
sixth generation Corvette, was a shock. Not that there were not
familiar touches, I mean I knew it was a Corvette from the moment I laid
eyes on it, but it was so different, so small.
Although the wheelbase has gone up 1.2 inches to 105.7 inches, the
overall length has come down 5.1 inches. Do the math; the wheels have
been pushed farther out towards either end. The width is down one
inch. The weight is virtually the same at 3245 pounds for the base
model, and the weight distribution is unchanged at 51% front and 49%
biggest change, the one thing you will notice right away are the
headlights. They are right there, out in the open. Every Corvette made
since 1963 has had hide-away headlights but for ’05 Corvette returns to
always-exposed lights. Why? For the same reason they were hidden
before, aerodynamics. Up until the late ‘70s the government mandated
that headlamps had to be a specific size and shape. In order to obtain
smoother airflow, at least during daylight hours, Corvette had hide-away
or pop-up headlights. With the loosening of government regulations and
new technology it is now possible to build headlamps that are a
continuation of a vehicle’s shape. No more beautiful by day, frog-like
biggest change though is unseen, under the hood. New for ’05 is a
6.0-liter, all aluminum, OHV V8 that produces an incredible 400
horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 400 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm.
Compare that with last year’s Z06, the performance Corvette with 405 hp
and the same torque. The ’05 base engine is the virtual equal to the
’04 performance version even down to the fuel economy figures! With a
manual transmission, the ’05 Vette is rated at 19-mpg city and 28-mpg
have one concern about the engine though; I wonder how many Corvette
buyers need or will use all that power. Look back forty years to the
1965 Corvette. There were six different engines available from the base
250 hp 327 V8, all the way up to the 425 hp 396 V8; an engine for
everyone. I’m not suggesting that Chevrolet go back to so many engine
combos but for the majority of the folks who buy a Corvette, 400 hp is
overkill. Having said that I still cannot wait for the next Z06 rumored
to have 500 hp!
Driving the ’05 Vette
is about more than just power though, this is a thoroughly modern GT.
It is comfortable and relatively easy to get in or out of. Chevrolet
says they paid a lot of attention to the interior and it shows. Just
about everything was located where intuitively it should be, right where
you hand lands. The soft material used on the door panels and dash is
something GM calls “cast skin.” According to GM it “retains the look
and feel of genuine leather with excellent softness, low gloss and low
glare that conveys an overall premium appearance and quality.”
Sometimes marketing hype goes too far doesn’t it? It is vinyl, darn
good vinyl, but vinyl none the less. Regardless of how the marketing
guys describe the interior, it works.
’05 goes so far beyond the previous Corvette in performance, ride and
handling, and braking that it made me wonder if GM had hired new
engineers or just loosened the reins on the ones they have. The ’04
Corvette was no slouch but the ’05 is miles ahead, on par with the best
of the best.
The ’05 Corvette is
equipped with substantial rubber; there is probably enough rubber here
to outfit at least two family sedans. The front tires are P245/40ZR-18
and the rears are P285/35ZR-19. The base ’05 has Goodyear Goodyear
Eagle F1 GS Extended Mobility tires, while the Z51 Sport Package uses
Goodyear Eagle F1 SC Extended Mobility with Asymmetric Tread.
are three different suspension systems available; the base, which is set
up for a more comfortable ride; the Magnetic Selective Ride Control
(adaptive suspension), and the sport oriented Z51 package.
This Corvette sticks,
folks. Between the tires and suspension, the ’05 Corvette is capable of
handling limits that will far exceed those of most owners. My advice is
to leave the Traction and Active Handling controls on. There are three
settings – full on, “race track” (it allows some wheelspin), and off.
Turn it off only at your own risk. There is so much torque available
under your right foot that on dry pavement it is easy to get the back
end to slide out under acceleration. From a stop with it turned off,
the rear tires keep spinning well into third gear with the four-speed
Chevrolet gives some
astounding performance figures for the ’05 - it is capable of 186 mph
(300 km/h), faster than any production Corvette in history. It can
reach 100 km/h (62 mph) from a dead stop in 4.2 seconds and in 4.1
seconds with the optional Z51 Performance Package (different gearing),
and covers the quarter-mile in 12.6 seconds at 114 mph (183 km/h).
there is a problem with the Corvette, any Corvette, it is that the
majority of people who buy it will be old farts my age. I see them
driving in the slow lane. Sacrilegious! Corvettes were not built for
the slow lane of life folks. We work and slave our whole life just to
buy a Corvette and drive like an old man?
working and slaving, in reality Corvettes are priced very decently. The
base price for the coupe is $43,710, and the convertible (did you think
there wouldn’t be a convertible?) is $51,445. The ’05 coupe is $125
less than the ’04. Let’s see, more horsepower, better ride and
handling, and better looking (in my opinion). I think I see a line
developing down at the Chevy store.
Bruce Hotchkiss © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
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