By on January 7, 2008

x08ch_cr047.jpgThe Chevrolet Corvette is the exception that proves the rule. It’s the one GM car that has never, ever been boring. Sure, there’ve been times when the ‘Vette lost the plot– when comparing its dynamic capabilities to a similarly priced foreign sports car was like pitting Cheese Whiz against Normandie brie. But the ‘Vette was never po-faced about it. Besides, those days are gone. As I sampled a 2008 convertible automatic with a few new upgrades, I wondered: what could GM learn from the Chevrolet Corvette?

The latest Corvette’s "sheetmetal" remains exuberantly faithful to the model’s phallic traditions– despite Pokemon-eyes set within a vaguely feminine, Viper-esque nose. (Not to mention poorly integrated quad exhausts that seem to hoik the car’s derriere into the air in the great Gallic tradition.) Top down, the ‘Vette’s profile is breathtaking; the strakes and intakes are as flawlessly sculpted as the sinews in the arms of Michelangelo’s David. 

x08ch_cr052.jpgThe ‘Vette’s cabin is strictly as case of ‘nothing to see here folks; move along.” While the new Malibu gets sexy snickery and touch-friendly materials, the ‘Vette’s plastic controls would be right at home in an ‘80’s Subaru, and the materials are about as luxurious as a Day’s Inn suite. The new Custom Leather-Wrapped Interior Package only makes matters worse, drawing MORE attention to the Corvette’s piss-poor polymers. Oh, and the Chevy Cobalt called; it wants its steering wheel back.

Fuhgeddaboutit. Fire-up the Corvette’s LS3 small block V8, and you will. Even (or especially) at idle, you can sense those 430 horses kicking the starting gate. Give the fillies their head, and, well, the Vette ‘vert weighs-in at 3246 lbs. What do YOU think happens GMNext? Whatever your opinion, think fast; the Corvette chop top teleports its occupants from zero to sixty in 4.3 seconds. The only thing more dramatic than the Corvette’s ability to get its driver to scream a religious blessing on excrement: the NASCAR roar drowning out any and all expletives.   

x08ch_cr035.jpgOnce you’re out of quarter-mile challenge mode– which will take some time and may never occur– the LS3’s bottom end is surprisingly weak for a 6.2-liter engine. But the mid-range swell makes up for it. Oh yes it does. Got revs? Got power. Enough power to humiliate all but the most exotic of supercars in terms of hyperspace button in-gear oomph. God bless the V8 engine! Oh wait; He already has.

Unfortunately, our tester was equipped with an automatic gearbox– rather than the new short-throw self-shifter. The Corvette’s six speed slushbox is a bit dim-witted. Prod it hard and the mighty motor pauses slightly as the requisite greasy bits slip down a gear (or two) to find the requisite shove. On the positive side, under what some call “normal conditions,” the Corvette’s cog swapper swaps cogs so seamlessly you’ll find yourself going a lot faster than you thought (honest officer).

x08ch_cr036.jpgThe steering is similarly effortless; which may or may not be a good thing depending on your testosterone levels. If you’ve got the balls, the Corvette’s balance, low center of gravity and wide gumballs (18’s up front, 19’s in the back, and no all-season mishegos) will see you through the most tortuous of twisties, at the most hair-raising of speeds. But you’ll need your wits as well; the drop top’s scuttle shake adds unwelcome lateral complexity.

Thankfully, the Corvette’s hugely powerful and tireless brakes (at least off-track) solve the most vexing Vette side effects. And you get an amazingly compliant ride for no extra charge. Less sporting drivers (a.k.a. most convertible owners) should leave the $1995 Magnetic Ride Control box unticked, wait for the straights to let slip the dogs of war and waft in peace. Although most Corvette convertibles are destined to wear a garage queen’s ermine robes (i.e. a soft car cover), this Corvette rivals Stuttgart’s finest in the “everyday” part of the everyday supercar olympics.

x08ch_cr042.jpgSpeaking of which, perhaps the single most remarkable thing about Chevy’s uber-drop top is its $60k asking price. If you’re measuring sheer bang for the buck, you can’t beat it with a stick; although, again, the manual transmission is highly recommended. And it must be said that's one Hell of a lot of money for a Chevy.

So what have we learned from the Corvette Convertible? That constant, incremental evolution keeps a car competitive between significant re-thinks? We knew that. That sex sells? Duh. That a clear unique selling point (horsepower) is the key to sales success? Double duh. That GM should have upped the model’s price and fixed the interior, eliminating the last reason NOT to buy the Corvette Convertible. True dat.

The most important lesson that the ‘Vette can teach GM: whatever the Corvette product development and management team is doing is EXACTLY what ALL their product teams should be doing. Inside GM, common sense is not so common.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

79 Comments on “2008 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible Review...”


  • avatar
    BigChiefMuffin

    $60K sounds a great deal until you think that you won’t have to pay a lot more to get a new Nissan GTR. I know which I would go for…

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Jay Leno said nothing beats the vette for value.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    $60K sounds a great deal until you think that you won’t have to pay a lot more to get a new Nissan GTR. I know which I would go for…

    ahem….MARKUP!!!!

    It’ll be a long time before you can get a Nissan GT-R for anything close to MSRP.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Sure, there’ve been times when the ‘Vette lost the plot– when comparing its dynamic capabilities to a similarly priced foreign sports car was like pitting Cheese Whiz against Normandie brie.

    What were these cars?

    Even if you have a preference for the RX-7, 300ZX, or Supra during the Corvette’s fourth generation, I would hardly call their comparative dynamic performance “Brie to Cheese Whiz”.

  • avatar
    timoted

    Good review. I wish GM would put a little more cash into the Corvette’s interior. The M6 is definitely the way to go in a Corvette however, with a little work (cash) the A4 can be a good performer though not nearly as much fun.

  • avatar
    Juniper

    It’ll be a long time before you can get a Nissan GT-R. period. Ahh Faith in the unknown.

  • avatar
    Joe O

    I’ve got to object to this statement: “It’s the one GM car that has never, ever been boring.”

    Methinks the author has not yet driven some late 70s, early 80s corvettes. I drove one, and I do not remember the year. That is not a testament to my sloth, it is a testament to the ability to forget that Corvette.

    It was all show and no go…and it didn’t show that well. It could barely turn, stop, or accelerate. Slamming the loud pedal only resulted in about 5 seconds of gear-hunting (yes, it was an auto) before the pace slowly increased….slow as in a 1995 Honda Civic. Loaded with 500 pounds of concrete. With fouled spark plugs.

    Why are the manufacturers providing more and more journos with slushboxes on their high performance models? Is it because the “I’ll shift it for ya”s have gotten so good? Or because the makers are tired of glazed clutches after 1000 miles?

    Joe

  • avatar

    Joe O :

    It could barely turn, stop, or accelerate. Slamming the loud pedal only resulted in about 5 seconds of gear-hunting (yes, it was an auto) before the pace slowly increased….slow as in a 1995 Honda Civic. Loaded with 500 pounds of concrete. With fouled spark plugs.

    That doesn’t sound boring to me! Seriously, even when ‘Vette’s were tail-happy sleds, they still LOOKED exciting.

    NB: the Vette tested was not provided by GM. TTAC always acknowledges any and all manufacturer contributions to our editorial.

  • avatar
    shaker

    3200 lbs? Wow. That 25MPG highway could well be 30+ using the 3.6 DFI V6, and the car wouldn’t be a terrible slouch, either.
    Aerodynamics and light weight; what a concept.

  • avatar
    BlisterInTheSun

    Around here, the people who own late-model automatic ‘Vette convertibles are middle-aged guys who own their own fencing companies.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Ah Corvette. A guy I hated had one in high school. So that colored my perceptions for a long time I guess. They have been very ugly for a very long time. I agree that the current generation ragtop is beautiful though – and GM, in its quest for making cars that no one wants, can afford, or lately pay gas into, has perfected a car that can’t be driven in the manner it was intended anywhere but a track. Perhaps this is endemic to this class of vehicle, but I frankly don’t see the point. And please do not lecture me about 26 mpg on the sticker. If you are actually getting 26 mpg on this car, you should have bought a Hyundai. Or four.

    I realize that they are different cars for different audiences, but GM also gets it kind of right with the little pontiac/saturn ragtop twins – except that they have no trunk space whatsoever. The vette has trunk space, I think. Even in the ragtop.

    However, I quibble. Most of the men (usually men) I have known who have these cars, like those who pilot fat wheeled 911′s and other like cars are not interested in top end. These cars will see a track about as much as most SUV’s see a dirt road. They are for see and be seen, as indicated by the testers automatic shifter. And who would want to be seen in a car that Leno says “is a good value”? That sounds like an ad for generic toilet paper.

    I suppose if you couldn’t afford a real show stopper, you could buy one of these. I suppose.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    3200 lbs? Wow. That 25MPG highway could well be 30+ using the 3.6 DFI V6, and the car wouldn’t be a terrible slouch, either.
    Aerodynamics and light weight; what a concept.

    That would be a surefire deathwatch editorial on the folly of putting six cylinders in a ‘vette (C1 nonwithstanding) if I’ve ever seen one.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    quasimondo :

    tell u what, at 30+ mpg, I would be interested.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    And ONLY you, and surely not any die-hard Corvette fan.

  • avatar

    As a former Corvette owner, I’d be interested in a “baby ‘Vette” with the handling of the regular model and slightly lower performance that turned 30+ mpg. As long as the 0-60 time is still in the 5-6 second range, who needs a 175 mph+ top speed?

    (Incidentally, 30+ MPG wouldn’t be that hard to attain on the highway with just a few tweaks. The 2003 I had would turn 29-30 MPG cruising at 70 in 6th gear all day long.)

  • avatar
    ceipower

    Just give me a big motor , a fast 0-60 time and all is forgiven? Not so fast. The Corvette is a Barbie car, a fast Barbie car , but still a Barbie car. They are not eye catching, in particular that little Barbie-esqe hood scoop on the faster models looks very petite , very Barbie. The whole shape looks tired,specially the front and sides.The Corvettes of the 1960′s was the high water mark, Current Corvettes are just as impractical as ever , but now look about as sexy as the Smart ForTwo. A good safe bet for the want-ta-be playboys, but it no longer says “step aside, there’s a new sheriff in town”. Does it come in pink , or just seem like should? Bill C.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    In my mind, such an idea dictates that this vehicle be named anything but Corvette. There are some vehicles that have such a following and are such automotive icons that it would be an outright betrayal of the vehicle to do someting like what you guys suggest. Think about it. Can you imagine a Porsche 911 with anything other than a flat-six engine hanging off the back of it, or a piston-powered RX? (I know about the LS1 swaps; those things are rolling heresies)

    There’s something to be said about not screwing up a winning formula to appeal to a minority of potential buyers who may not even buy the car. The automotive landscape is littered with such automotive betrayals.

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    Actually, Nissan is supposed to be fighting price gouging on the GT-R, including a direct conduit through the regional VP offices, dealer certification, etc.

    http://www.autoobserver.com/2007/12/nissan-will-att.html

    We’ll see if it works, but the $70K GT-R at MSRP could certainly hurt the Vette in the bang/buck department.

  • avatar
    timoted

    The fact that you can’t even get a GT-R (let alone at MSRP)is irrelevant to a car that you can get at or below MSRP. Corvettes have a large following that justify 6 generations of the car. The car has it’s good & bad attributes but to say that it needs better MPG or that it’s a car for the middle aged is a cop-out. It’s a performance car that many desire (at least for 6 generations).

  • avatar
    essen

    Wow, jerseydevil, you must have really hated that guy in high school. The C5 and C6 Corvettes are great cars that can be driven every day. Easy to get in and out of, large cargo area, tremendous to drive slow or fast, trouble-free even decent gas mileage. I used to be a Porsche guy (I’ve had 4 including a 93 911 that I still have and a 2007 Cayman S that I just traded in on a Z06). The Corvette is a better car than any of these, hands down, regardless of price. And, your high school nemesis not withstanding, Corvette people are nicer, they wave to each other, unlike Porsche guys who are too cool!

  • avatar

    ” I’d be interested in a “baby ‘Vette” with the handling of the regular model and slightly lower performance that turned 30+ mpg.”

    Wouldn’t that be the Solstice (and Sky)? Looks like GM has it’s bases covered. I only hope that the Solstice is given the chance to evolve as the Corvette has over the years.

    I fear that GM’s cash position makes that difficult.

  • avatar
    Matthew Danda

    BlisterInTheSun:
    Around here, the people who own late-model automatic ‘Vette convertibles are middle-aged guys who own their own fencing companies.

    The Corvette drivers in my neighborhood are typically 45-55 year old recently divorced law firm partners with longer-than-average peppered hair.

  • avatar
    Raskolnikov

    timoted—the C6 Corvette is equipped with a 6 speed auto.

    I don’t understand how anyone can hate the Corvette. Stellar performance creds combined with class leading fuel economy and utility = a no brainer.
    True, my 1998 convertible has an interior that definitely needs improvement, but I would say that that is the ONLY fault of the car. I bought it used at a very reasonable price last year, and I simply love it. (A 13.4 quarter bone stock gets me emotionally erect, too).
    And essen is right, Corvette owners ALWAYS wave at each other.

    Oh and I’m 32 and married w/kids.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    essen :

    interesting comments – thanks.

    U traded in a cayman for a vette? why? i am considering a cayman.

  • avatar
    essen

    jersey devil:

    I traded in a 2005 C6 Corvette Coupe (Stick, as are all my cars) on the Cayman. The Cayman is a beautiful car, great handling, and I had the Porsche bug. I missed the horsepower of the Vette, plain and simple. I didn’t like having to wait to get into the the fast lane on the Turnpike or Parkway (I’m an NJ guy too). I traded the Cayman in on the Z06.

  • avatar
    jazbo123

    For magazines, the GTR is manna. For the average car buyer it is and will remain vaporware. There’s no way Nissan will avoid price gouging. If demand exceeds supply there will be huge price gouging. That’s human nature.

    So – the Vette will remain the best fast car value for some time to come.

  • avatar

    Wouldn’t that be the Solstice (and Sky)?

    Solstice on the skidpad: 0.90g
    Corvette on the skidpad: > 1g

    Just saying.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    Was it a Cayman or CaymanS?

    In terms of power there is a big difference.

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    The solstice/sky ergonomics are SO bad that the car is unusable. :(

    As for the GT-R, Nissan might very well keep the Dealers in line (they have an incentive to do so), so you get one if you put your deposit down now, but without a huge markup (unlike the $10K on a $20K solstice we’ve seen.)

  • avatar
    RGS920

    In all honesty, the “American Revolution” ended with the 1960s Corvette. The 50s and 60s Corvette was truly revolutionary, employing state of the art technology that you could not get in any other car, not to mention the price. I think that the Corvette is a prisoner of its own heritage. The recipe for the corvette is unalterable, V8 power, rear wheel drive, engine in the front. Remember the uproar when corvette enthusiasts found out that GM was doing away with the flip up head-lights, automotive blasphemy!

    The problem is the Corvette needs to be able to become more than it is. The recipe for improving the corvette can’t simply continue to be more displacement/more power, in this kind of competitive world. A Corvette should employ state of the art technology and showcase to the world that America can build the best car in the world at a price that no one can touch. What about a mid-engine configuration, dual variable valve timing with lift, gasoline direct injection… just to name a few.

    Let’s get real, even the Z06 7.0L V8 which puts out 505HP has A WORST HP/Liter ratio than the current Ford Taurus.
    Corvette Z06 505/7= 72.1 Horse power per liter.
    Ford Taurus 263/3.5 = 75.1 Horse power per liter.
    This isn’t an American Revolution, this is just laziness. The next generation Corvette needs to step its game up if it’s going to compete with the new cars coming out: Case and point:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vM5wxTmCZYQ&feature=related

  • avatar
    jkross22

    RGS920:

    If you’re saying that Vette development is lazy, that must mean Porsche is REALLY lazy.

    It seems that the evolution of a car, or more correctly, an automotive icon, is an art. Both Porsche (911) and Chevrolet (Vette) are 2 examples of what happens when you make evolutionary changes but leave the successful basic concept in tact.

    Here’s proof: When was the last time you have seen incentives on either car? The consumer is the final arbiter of what is good. Gotta love capitalism.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    60k is for the convertible. The coupe is in the mid 40k range. The GT-R is not a convertible, so it is competing with the Z06 on performance vs. price. Plus, the GT-R itself, its performance, and especially its pricing are vaporware. I don’t see how it can be that much faster than the R8, down about 55 hp, but also 400-500 lbs lighter and also has awd.

  • avatar
    danms6

    RGS920:

    While I agree that new technologies should be implemented on the Corvette, the LS-7 is far from laziness. HP/liter is a decent way to judge performance, but it isn’t a true benchmark for an engine’s technology.

    If you want to use the Taurus for a comparison again (for whatever reason), how come the 7.0L V8 Z06 is rated at 15/24 MPG while the FWD Taurus does 17/24 MPG? Granted the Z06 has a tall cruise gear and when driven properly should get much lower mileage, but the engine isn’t designed to achieve the maximum HP/liter. It’s the combination of lightweight, powerful, efficient (relatively) and affordable that makes the LS-7 successful.

  • avatar
    RGS920

    jkross22 :
    January 7th, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    RGS920:

    If you’re saying that Vette development is lazy, that must mean Porsche is REALLY lazy.

    It seems that the evolution of a car, or more correctly, an automotive icon, is an art. Both Porsche (911) and Chevrolet (Vette) are 2 examples of what happens when you make evolutionary changes but leave the successful basic concept in tact.

    Here’s proof: When was the last time you have seen incentives on either car? The consumer is the final arbiter of what is good. Gotta love capitalism.

    Wait 20 years my friend. Corvette continues down the path it’s made I guarantee you that the market will bury it. From the people in my generation, the people I went to college with, law school and the people my age that I work with. None of them have the word corvette on their tongues when they are talking about cars.

    Evolutionary changes? My Dad’s 1967 corvette stingray has about the same curb-weight as the new corvette which “evolved” by cutting off a few inches from the last model. Oh yeah, and added more displacement/HP.

    GM continues with the same recipe 20 years from now you’ll see the incentives at the GM lot and the average age of vette owners continue to rise.
    In order to save this American Icon GM is going to need to have an American Revolution because the current evolution of the Corvette isn’t going to cut it. Capitalism is not stagnant.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    RSG920: “The 50s and 60s Corvette was truly revolutionary, employing state of the art technology that you could not get in any other car”

    Not exactly. Up through 1962, it was a primitive car that sat on a modified 1952 Chevy sedan frame, and all the other components were standard Chevy items that were used/available on the sedans. The ’63 had IRS, which had been used in Europe for eons, and in ’65 the ‘Vette got discs, which had also been around for a long time.

    The ‘Vette was sexy, and had lots of power, but was never “state of the art”.

    By 1975, power dropped to 165hp, resulting in 17sec quarter miles. The 911 never lost power during the seventies; Porsche used fuel injection and “advanced technology” to keep performance up while the Corvette became a poseur only until well into the mid eighties.

  • avatar
    essen

    idontknow1

    It was the Cayman S, 295 HP

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    hp/L is possibly the most irrelevant statistic ever. If you want to compare things that actually matter, you can talk about hp/Engine Weight (the LS3 is a relatively light motor, name one 430hp+ convertible that weighs 3200lbs with a 50/50 weight distribution?), hp/MPG (the Vette gets excellent highway mpg although its city mpg leaves much to be desired), hp/lb-ft etc. but hp/L says absolutely nothing.

  • avatar
    RGS920

    danms6 :
    January 7th, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    RGS920:

    While I agree that new technologies should be implemented on the Corvette, the LS-7 is far from laziness. HP/liter is a decent way to judge performance, but it isn’t a true benchmark for an engine’s technology.

    If you want to use the Taurus for a comparison again (for whatever reason), how come the 7.0L V8 Z06 is rated at 15/24 MPG while the FWD Taurus does 17/24 MPG? Granted the Z06 has a tall cruise gear and when driven properly should get much lower mileage, but the engine isn’t designed to achieve the maximum HP/liter. It’s the combination of lightweight, powerful, efficient (relatively) and affordable that makes the LS-7 successful.

    You have the mpg rating for the FWD Taurus mixed up with the AWD Taurus. Also remember that the Taurus uses 87 octane gasoline while the corvette Z06 requires 93 octane. Regardless, I wasn’t comparing fuel economy. My point was that the efficiency of this engine was no where near what it could potentially be. For example, the Direct Injection technology used in the CTS raises the performance of the 3.6L from 263HP to 303HP with no effect on MPG. Why isn’t that technology showcased in the vette? DI technology has been around for quiet sometime as well. Or VVT, what about dual VVT that effects both intake and exhuast? It is not enough that you build a good engine. The Z06 should be a world beater of an engine. And displacement should never be a justification for lazyness. GM put an engine with the same efficiency in terms of power as the Ford Taurus… to me that is lazyness on the part of GM.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    I thought I’d never see the day when people yawn at an engine making 430 hp without the use of nitrous or forced induction.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    If Mattel decided to make a “adult” toys I get the impression that they would look just like the Corvette. Or better yet the Corvette really does look like a full scale Hot Wheels car in person.

    OK, lets get the stats out of the way first. This way I think we all can be a little bit more objective about this car. The Corvette is amazing on paper and on the track (with just a little work). In todays sportcar market the Corvette is the MEAN (performance wise) that all others are measured.
    Needless to say if I were in the market a dedicated track racecar (and had the cash) the Corvette would top the list. I can not think of a better platform to start with.

    Now that I have given the Vette it much deserved praise please allow me to point out what I think is wrong. The Vette has a very limited appeal as an object of desire for too many potential costumers with the necesary $$$. After 50 years in existance as one of GM consistant top products the Corvette still has a undenible cheapness factor that does NOT fit its $45,000 to $100,000+ image. No matter what color you paint a Vette it still look like it is made out of ummm, plastic! Parked next to a plain-jane Boxster the Vette has that toy look to it while the Porsche looks like a serious piece of automotive engineering (almost).
    There is no neutrality to the Corvette in terms of style. It is a polarizing design that too many people feel they will look rather rediculous driving around in. “Hey look at me and my CORVETTE”! Like it or not the driver is screaming this whether they want the attention or not. On the other hand all but the most outrageous porsches allow the owner to simply chill out and enjoy the car without much unnecessary fanfare.

    Really who wants to look like an cockold old man or a pimply faced punk (the two main sterotypes for this car)?

  • avatar

    Very nice review.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    whatdoiknow1 :

    While I have to agree with some of what you say, but saying it looks like a toy in comparison with a Boxster of all cars, is pretty out of line. The Boxster is a great car (in fact, the Boxster S/Cayman S were the only other cars I felt were worthy of consideration when I bought my 2006 Coupe) I can think of few more toylike cars than the entry level Porsche

    I also have to disagree a little with the stereotypes. The old man stereotype is definitely there, but I haven’t seen too many pimply faced punks that have the cash to buy a new Vette. And while some people look down on it for being a “Just a Chevy,” the car has enormous appeal amongst people of all ages. I can’t count how many random people have stopped me in the streets, at gas stations, on the sidewalk, etc. to comment on my car. I turned 24 a few months ago and I have yet to meet a person my age that didn’t have at least some respect for the car.

    That’s not to say the Vette is perfect. The city gas milage is terrible (I’m averaging 11mpg, and that’s with a manual transmission), it sucks having to try to talk a Chevy dealer into giving you a loaner, the steering feel isn’t great, and the exhaust sounds pathetic (at least they have a dual mode exhaust on the new 08s), but for the price the only car that can even come close to offering as much as the Vette are the Boxster/Cayman S twins, and the Vette is more on par performance-wise with 911s.

  • avatar
    timd38

    I have a 2006 and the bang for the buck is great! I really like the car.

  • avatar
    Wakeup

    The Corvette is a relative bargain. Why did he test an auto model?? I would have waited until a manual was offered and taken it to VIR (Virginia International Raceway). Look forward to a review of the new ZR1!!!!! 4 out of 5 stars yes agree!

  • avatar

    there are a number of people with corvettes in local autocross circles. they’re friendly, some of them are women, and they turn in some very fast times. no spring chickens though. they’ve made me respect the car, though I still don’t want one.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    One of the nicest aspects of the vettes is their long range capabilities.

    You can literally just keep on going, and going, and going in a late model Vette without feeling any significant fatigue. The engine will comfortably cruise at a steady 80+ mph without straining a bit regardless of the incline. Although the interior is (cough! cough!) nothing special, I’ve always found the seats to be very comfortable and far less punishing than some of the more taut seats found in many German models.

    The engines on most of the Vettes, from the LT1′s on up, tend to last a very long time as well. I believe Porsche and GM can lay claim to the durability crown in the sports car segment as far as engines are concerned.

    If I bought one though, I would have to perform some major modifications on the interior. The dashboard and steering wheel in particular are far below what would be gently called ‘decent’. My first choice wold be a Porsche hands down. But if I had to choose between the two as a daily driver, the Vette would likely represent a better real world choice.

    That still wouldn’t stop me from choosing the Porsche.

  • avatar

    @thetopdog
    What I like about all the Porsches is the refinement. I collect Porsche valves because they are so beautiful. (Neither BMW or Corvette valves hold are nearly as nice.) In fact, I made a menorah out of Porsche valves, which you can see on my website, motorlegends.com. Toy? I don’t think so.

    I haven’t yet driven the Vette, but from everything I’ve read about the car, I’m inclined to respect it. But beyond a certain point, sheer power doesn’t satisfy me nearly as much as handling and refinement. But for those who thrill to acceleration, I can see the Vette’s appeal.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    When I referred to the Boxster as ‘toylike’ I was strictly talking about the looks. It looks a lot like a toy to me, part of it probably has something to do with the fact that the front and back ends are shaped almost exactly the same. It’s still a good looking car though, and the Cayman is even better

    I have a lot of respect for the Boxster/Cayman, i wouldn’t say they’re better than the Vette, but I wouldn’t say they’re any worse either. This time around I wanted power, next time I’m looking for a car I might go for a Cayman if I want something more tossable

  • avatar
    IronEagle

    jkross22

    I got about $10k off of the red/red 96 LT4 I used to drive back when the C5 was coming out. There is a local dealer here that offers about $6-8k off new coupes and around $10-12k off the ‘verts towards the end of every model year. Check out Corvette Fourm if anyone here is interested.

    After the Vette and 98 Trans Am and 00 Camaro SS 6 speeds the GM RWD muscle just didn’t do it for me any more. The 2nd gen Talon TSi I used for a beater for a few years before starting to modify it was and still is the more interesting car to me even when I had the Super Sport with SLP exhaust and t-tops. Especially with the AWD I added and the extra 240bhp from the stock 2.0 liter. :) So mabye the argument that the Corvette needs to go more high tech and perhaps mid-engine or hybrid/AWD/curb feelers etc is a good one to pursue for the next generation of high end sports car buyers. I have read there has been and still is a big debate within GM on taking Corvette mid engine someday.

    So anyway yes this car in the article is still a great value for the money. Sure the 08 is $60k but heck 11 years ago my LT4 Coupe stickered for around $42k and the convertibles were over $52,000 IIRC. That means GM has been holding the price on the vehicle over the years if you take inflation into account. Good for them.

  • avatar
    f8

    David Holzman:

    Corvettes handle very well, actually. The power gets brought up a lot because Corvettes overpower Porsches in that price range by a good margin. That doesn’t mean that Corvettes aren’t refined – they perform extremely well on the track and have a long history in professional racing.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    I `d buy one in a blink of an eye, with inferno red exterior, red leahter interior with 08` model year leather door upholstery and leather dashboard and Z06 7liter gurgler, and magna ride, and two tone exhaust ( like 3000gt)…, if you made that dashboard fit better with center console plastics. And if you submersed that half -sophistcated picture -on-the-wall looking navigation screen. And if you replaced that leaf spring suspension with a fully independent. and replaced A/C controls with a bigger more serious looking one`s from new chevy suburban, or Tahoe. I `d buy in an instant! Swooooosh!

  • avatar

    Discovery Channel just pitted a Z06 against at Ferrari 360 Modena. The Z06 won 3 out of 5 performance tests. Road & Track picked the base Corvette’s V8 engine as the best in a four car V-8 comparo (Aston Martin Vantage V8, Corvette, Ferrari F430, Audi R8).

    I think the Corvette is doin’ just fine.

  • avatar
    danms6

    Perkins:

    No kidding. While a best engine comparo is pretty subjective, you’ve got to wonder what some people are thinking. Don’t complain to Chevrolet about their ‘ancient’ pushrods or a couple leaf springs in the independent suspension. Instead, how about you ask the Ferraris of the world why their ultra-high-tech godmobiles cost 4 times as much yet get spanked in almost every performance test. Pay that premium for eye candy if you want to but the Corvette remains the best bang for the buck.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    danms6- ferraris cost so much because you can sell them for such a price to hypocrites who had never had to sweat a single dollar of their paycheks, that`s why they easily overpay. ferrari is good in categories, that most people with common sense wouldn`t bother to care of. Who the hell needs carbon brakes for 12k to save mm in braking distance because of brake fatigue? they sell Attitude and image rather than techology or quality. ZO6 sells none of the four, but is stil the best.

  • avatar

    Ferrari will always sell every car they build for ridiculously high prices precisely because their buyers know they won’t see themselves coming and going on the road. Exclusivity has its price and their buyers can and will continue to pay it. I assure you most don’t care one iota that the Z06 outperforms them. So does a Subaru STi for a few hundred dollars in mod’s and I guarantee you they aren’t cross-shopping that car.

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    Well I’m not (and never have been) a sports car guy but I can’t help but think that Corvette is drinking from the same well as Harley Davidson, i.e. aging boomers trying to recapture their youth. I’m not saying that’s bad (after all, if it works, it works) but I wonder if it’s a viable long-term strategy. After all, the boomers are getting older and over the next 15-20 years will be trading their Harleys and ‘Vettes in for wheelchairs.

    Most of the young 20-somethings who were raised on modified Hondas, Skylines, STIs and Evos are probably immune to the “mystique” of the ‘Vette. And even if some of those aren’t, hasn’t it been said before that gaining a growing share of a shrinking market is a recipe for disaster? Nostalgia is nice but it has its limits.

  • avatar
    robbinconner

    It sounded as though you thought the convertible was detectably worse in handling the coupe–adding dynamic complexity. Any feed back on the handling differences between the two would be much appreciated.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    Nobody in north America was raised on a Skyline. I can count on one hand the amount of Skylines I have seen in person over the course of my lifetime. The new GT-R is by all indications going to be an incredible car though

    From personal experience, STi’s and Evos are not considered the same class as Vettes by people my age (20 something). They’re more like the this generation’s Camaros and Mustangs.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    Martin Albright :
    January 8th, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Well I’m not (and never have been) a sports car guy but I can’t help but think that Corvette is drinking from the same well as Harley Davidson, i.e. aging boomers trying to recapture their youth. I’m not saying that’s bad (after all, if it works, it works) but I wonder if it’s a viable long-term strategy. After all, the boomers are getting older and over the next 15-20 years will be trading their Harleys and ‘Vettes in for wheelchairs.

    Most of the young 20-somethings who were raised on modified Hondas, Skylines, STIs and Evos are probably immune to the “mystique” of the ‘Vette. And even if some of those aren’t, hasn’t it been said before that gaining a growing share of a shrinking market is a recipe for disaster? Nostalgia is nice but it has its limits.

    How is that whenever GM decides to cater to is core costumers they manage to turn-off just about everyone else! Why is it that some of the biggest icons of Americana like Harleys do not appeal to the majority of folks? Now I will admit I am a “coaster” and maybe we do not “get it” but around my neck of the woods both Corvettes and Harleys have a negative image attached to them.

    I seems most people that like Harleys like them simply because they are Harleys.

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    Nobody in north America was raised on a Skyline.

    Maybe “raised on a skyline” was hyperbole but certainly they know what a Skyline is: In the same sense that damn few 20 year olds back in the 60′s owned ‘vettes but they certainly knew what they were: An embodiment of their automotive desires.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    jurisb:

    The Corvette’s suspension is fully independent; well, as independent as any modern vehicle with sway bars, anyway…..and the leaf springs are transversely mounted.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    In the 60s few young kids owned Vettes but they at least had the chance to see them in the flesh if they were so inclined. I think the new GT-R is the first Skyline (I know it’s not called “Skyline” this time around) that is even being made with the steering wheel on the left. Up until this point “Skyline” in North America has meant nothing more than a cool car in Gran Turismo and something to be talked about on internet forums. I’m not sure how many young guys that don’t play racing video games and don’t talk about cars online even know what a Skyline is.

    Of course, the same points about inaccessibility can be used to argue that the ‘grass is always greener on the other side’ phenomenon has given the Skyline a mystique that few cars sold in the US can match

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    RSG920 wrote:

    Let’s get real, even the Z06 7.0L V8 which puts out 505HP has A WORST HP/Liter ratio than the current Ford Taurus.
    Corvette Z06 505/7= 72.1 Horse power per liter.
    Ford Taurus 263/3.5 = 75.1 Horse power per liter.

    Thanks for your input on the Corvette, RSG920. I haven’t had a good chuckle today until now!

    You really should do a bit more research before pointing out the Vette’s “shortcomings.” As for the comparison to a Taurus….well, there must be a more flawed analogy comparing the fuel economy of a 3100 lb 2 seat supercar to a 4000 lb 4 door…but I haven’t seen it yet.

    1) No Vette discussion seems possible on the internet without someone bringing up the flawed logic that HP/Liter equates to efficiency. NOT TRUE.

    Who cares if the motor makes under 75 hp/L if it beats all those 8000 rpm multivalve VVT rivals in fuel efficiency, torque bandwidth, reliability/durability, and mechanical compactness/simplicity?

    HP/Liter is only relevant in Japan, where taxes are calculated based on engine displacement, or in F1, where sanctioning bodies make the rules.

    Now Direct Injection will be in future Vettes, and you make a good point about that. I was expecting to see it debuting in the ZR1, but no such luck. Too bad.

    2) I love Midyear Vettes, but suggesting that your Dad’s ’67 even remotely compares to the C6 based on weight is ludicrous. Please go read about the technology in all Vettes from 1997-present…rigid hydroformed chassis, lightweight materials, magnetic ride suspension…the modern Corvette is a daily drivable, state of the art, affordable supercar that needs to make no excuses, period.

    On another note, as Frank mentioned, the pre 2005 C5 Corvettes with their smaller (can’t believe I’m using that term for a 5.7L engine) engines and tall 6th gear easily get 30+ mpg on the highway. My ’04 gets 32 mpg at 70 mph, even with a centrifugal supercharger. The 7 liter Z06 still manages 25-27 on the highway. No need for V6 blasphemy….a 4.8 or 5.3L LSx V8 with displacement on demand in the lightweight, aerodynamic, tall geared Vette could easily get 30+ mpg even with the more stringent 2008 EPA standards…and still manage 13 sec quarter mile times. That’s what the “base” Vette needs…the 430 horse LS3 is just way too much motor for an entry level Corvette in the CAFE strangled future.

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    I’m young enough to have nearly been raised on hondas and skylines, but I’m old enough to trust my gut and not fads (or other people for that matter.) I also am fortunate enough to have heard GTO stories as a kid.

    With all that said, I am completely immune to the mystique of the Corvette, but I still want one very much. I first learned about the value of a broad torque curve when I bought my first turbocharged car. I have since learned that V8s do the same thing, only better. I also learned that handling, braking, and visibility trump horsepower almost every time. Horsepower is just gravy, but it’s awesome gravy.

    The Corvette gives a big, big torque curve, grip and handling to spare, brakes that are more than enough for street use, *and* 430hp for those few straight line moments when you can just let it rip. And I get a heads up display, and magna ride suspension, and a six speed manual? AND all the community college coeds I can handle? Sign me the F up.

    Who cares if the dashboard isn’t as silky as a Porsche’s? I don’t go around stroking my plastic anyway.

  • avatar
    Mark Morrison

    NICKNICK:

    “Who cares if the dashboard isn’t as silky as a Porsche’s? I don’t go around stroking my plastic anyway.”

    I don’t want to sound like a haptic hypochondriac but the quality of the interior for me matters because it helps make the car a special place to be if it is done well. The ‘Vette quickly became ordinary

  • avatar
    Mark Morrison

    Wakeup :

    “Why did he test an auto model?? I would have waited until a manual was offered and taken it to VIR (Virginia International Raceway).”

    Beggars can’t be choosers but yes I would have preferred a manual

  • avatar
    Mark Morrison

    robbinconner:

    “It sounded as though you thought the convertible was detectably worse in handling the coupe–adding dynamic complexity. Any feed back on the handling differences between the two would be much appreciated.”

    I haven’t driven the coupe so I can’t provide any specific feedback on the difference between the two. I could detect a little scuttle shake and the ride of the convertible was surprisingly compliant but still handled well. My guess would be if you have the opportunity to push the car often (and realistically, who really does these days?) the coupe would be the preferred choice.

  • avatar
    akitadog

    The Vette will receive all kinds of technological goodies, if only to fall in line with the upcoming fuel economy regs.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see direct injection AND cylinder deactivation on upcoming Vettes. 35 highway MPG anyone? VVT may be a little trickier on a pushrod engine.

    I actually thought that the C6 was going to have cylinder deactivation and was a little disappointed that it didn’t.

    If GM is smart, they would tune the engine more for economy when DI comes into play. As in, 25 extra horses and 3 extra MPG, rather than 50 extra horses and no MPG improvement.

    Oh, and I covet a Vette like nobody’s business, specifically for all it does right: great power, great looks, great fuel economy, great ride and handling, and knowing that I could beat the car next to me easily…not that I like to engage in war, but the threat of war is enough for me :).

  • avatar
    jurisb

    doctor8- how can you have a fully independent suspension with transversely mounted leaf spring? A fully independent suspension has an idependent working dumpening/spring system for each wheel, which does not transmit direct forces to the other wheel`s dumpers/springs, because they are no physically connected.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    jurisb,

    By your logic, any car equipped with swaybars doesn’t have a fully independent suspension. The transverse leaf spring has some anti roll effect, given. But it’s still an independent suspension.

    I guess by that definition, only cars like my Mercedes CL have a FULLY independent suspension, since it has an active suspension in lieu of swaybars.

    If the transverse leafs really bother you, there are several manufacturers of bolt in coilover shock setups….but they are really only useful for true track junkies who need more adjustability. The stock suspension is more capable than 95% of today’s road cars, and, 99.% of drivers.

  • avatar
    s mike

    When you drive this car all the quibbles about the interior and orange peel paint just melt away with the torque slamming you against the seat. It puts a smile on your face that no Porsche under $120k can do.

    I love how these Porsche people come out when the topic of sports car bang for the buck comes up. If there ever was a polarizing design it would be the Boxter. One one end is man, the other woman. We all know which side Boxter lands on. Now that is a Barbie car by definition!

  • avatar
    casper00

    Why are people keep comparing cars that are in different class. The GTR has always been a V6 and the Vette has always been a V8. The vette’s engine size is like twice the size of the GTR. In my opinion I’d like to see GM produce a V6 that is worth comparing to cars such as the GTR or something along that line. All GM, Ford or Chyrsler rely on is their V8′s. In other words they can’t produce a decent performance V6 vehicle to compete within its class.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    “All GM, Ford or Chyrsler rely on is their V8’s.”

    casper00 I really don’t think that’s true.

    Approximately two-thirds of the Mustangs sold in North America have the V6 engine. GM puts V6′s all over it’s lineup. Most notably on the $40,000+ Cadillac CTS that offers a 304 horsepower V6 with variable valve timing. That one is mated to a 6-speed automatic that BMW actually buys for many of their own vehicles.

    Chrysler has put out pretty powerful V6′s for nearly 15 years now. The 3.5L that was in the LH sedans was definitely a world class engine for it’s time with 210 horsepower. Ironically enough, they used the 3.2L V6 in the Acura Legend as the primary benchmark for the development that engine. Chrysler had the most horsepower in the midsize segment for quite a while and until Daimler took over, they were usually undisputed leaders in the horsepower wars.

    Nissan’s a real interesting case since they more or less started pushing the horsepower envelope during the 1990′s while keeping prices down. In fact, I would say that the GTR is symbolic of Nissan’s desire to be seen as the ‘sporty Japanese car’ in today’s market. Even today with Honda and Toyota offering big horsepower in even their most conventional cars, most folks will at least test drive the Nissan product and generally perceive it as the sportiest offering of the three.

    As for the Corvette, the rumor mill has been circulating about a potential V6 in the works. This would be mated to a vette that will evoke the lines of the classic sting ray models. If it were to happen, they would probably use the Kappa platform that’s now used to build the Solstice and Sky models.

    I would rather see them continue to build on the Solstice and Sky. They’re very striking vehicles and with a better attention towards driving ergonomics, they could be a legitimate answer to a modern day S2000.

    As for the GTR??? I don’t know. Never drove one. But I’m sure that it’s worthy of all the positive press. As is the Vette.

  • avatar

    A V6 for the Corvette would be useful, a glovebox quadruple bypass robotic surgeon even more so.

  • avatar
    garllo

    “The most important lesson that the ‘Vette can teach GM: whatever the Corvette product development and management team is doing is EXACTLY what ALL their product teams should be doing. Inside GM, common sense is not so common.”

    As a Corvette owner and enthusiast I can tell you that one thing that they do is listen to Corvette owners! When the C6 hit the showroom it was offered with satellite radio. Everyone including me hated the ugly little antenna sitting on top of the car.
    Look at the newer models and there is no more antenna visible.This is only one example. Not many “Mistakes” usually make it into the next model year. I think if other car companies practiced the same thing we would see better products all around!

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    Ten years ago, I bought a Corvette specifically to make a 500-miles-each-way trip a few times per month. The route combined extended highway driving with some canyon passes and the option to take the long way through some engaging twisties. A sports car with long-distance attributes and some cargo space got the nod. Ah…freed from the tyranny of airports, their schedules and the flying bus experience of Southwest Air! The car proved to be powerful, supremely competent in any handling requirement, sensationally efficient relative to its performance, never fatiguing on long drives, and turned in bulletproof reliability for as long as I owned it, beyond 100,000 miles. Unlike most competing sports cars, Corvette accommodated my 6’3″ self which never seems to fold into a 911 without my head jammed against the roof. A Boxster or Cayman, even if I wanted either, are laughably inefficient at packaging me. The German makers are ham-handed at space utilization, though I will credit them: The 911 Targa is an elegantly trick little car.

    A relatively lightweight, very high performance car that turns in nearly 30mpg at lawbreaking highway speeds is going to cost something beyond a regular sedan. Just shut up about the interior. It’s fine. I’d rather see the price retain the car’s relative accessiblity and pay for the advanced mechanicals. If it bothers you, GM gives you the option of paying something like $4Large for leather on every interior surface. If you want machined metal knobs and buttons, carbon fiber or engine turned aluminum panels, the aftermarket has your number. Geeze Louise.

    The hoary old displacement power efficiency argument gets tired. Complexity isn’t always the more advanced way to go. Small displacement, rev-happy overhead cam engines have their charms, but are not so impressive when compared for power efficiency on total engine volume. The Chevy small block has been and remains very compact for its output, able to fit low and tight in some surprising spaces. Note that the aftermarket has stuffed these engines into a Solstice. GM has been working on cam-in-block VVT and I’m sure we’ll see it if it proves advantageous. Cylinder shut-down? OK, interesting for ekeing out a sliver of fuel economy gain, but that tall sixth gear goes a long way. In terms of materials and quality of manufacture, the Corvette engines from the base motor up are outstanding executions of a simple design that proves its mettle in professional and consumer hands every day. Want a DOHC mill on Corvette bones? Buy an XLR or XLR-V.

    The composite body is iconic to the car. Porsche 911 and Corvette each required a good 40 years to fully overcome the primary liability of their original design. In Porsche’s case, it took that long to overcome the flaw of hanging the big weight out over the rear axle. In Corvette’s case, the long war was in figuring out how to give the car structural rigidity while continuing with the resin-fiberglass, and later SMC, body. For Porsche, tires and some convoluted engineering came to rescue. For Corvette, hydroforming delivered what skeletal architecture alone could not.

    The transverse composite leaf springs in the Corvette are materially advanced and well behaved. The center is effectively clamped. “Crosstalk” from one side of the spring to the other is an esoteric concept in real-world driving. The design has the added advantage of reducing unsprung weight and keeping the car a little lighter in the corners. The magnetic ride control option further refines the car’s performance and is a world-class advance on its own.

    I live where a Ferrari driver *will* see himself coming and going about every other day, and American cars are swimming in a sea of imported sheet metal. Yet Corvettes are not only respected, they are thick here in Southern California where sports cars of every stripe are routine. I routinely see full smattering of twenty-somethings through boomers and older in current issue ‘Vettes. If California anticipates a trend, then the Corvette is gaining, not losing, relevance among younger drivers who want a serious performance car. Own one. It’s convincing.

    Phil

  • avatar
    crf450

    Awsome post phil! I completely agree about the hp/L arguments, its a ricer argument for those tuner boys that dont know much about engine physics and such.

    The reason that smaller v6′s and 4cyl make good power for their size is

    1:Good flowing cylinder heads using DOHC design.
    2:High revving rpms with smaller displacement.

    GM could also use the DOHC design and get much higher output from their v8′s. Problem is, the engine will be much bigger and heavier than a smaller, lighter, and more compact pushrod v8.

  • avatar
    broberts13

    As for “Beggars can’t be choosers but yes I would have preferred a manual”,

    I simply looked on line to find a manual with the trim level I wanted at a dealer in the next state and he held it until Sunday for me. I wasn’t keen on the color, but beggars can’t be choosers. Oh, there was even a $1k incentive that weekend.

  • avatar
    Belinda

    I am a 31-year old female and I owned a 1984 Corvette. The car had it’s shortcomings because it was more than 20 years old and not as dependable as I would have liked. But when I started it up and heard that roar that would set off people’s car alarms when I drove down the street…it was heaven!

    I had to sell the car because I needed a more dependable car to commute in, and I actually got misty-eyed when I sold it. I have never gotten teary over a car and I think that attests to the power of this car.

    Once, I had the opportunity to drive a 2007 convertible Corvette. Before I knew it, I was smiling from ear to ear. I actually got all patriotic and was feeling really proud of America to design and manufacture this great car! I agree that if you drive a Corvette you will forget about the interior and fall in love. I have an Acura now and the interior is very nice but I miss having decent acceleration(my mom’s V6 Mustang has less horsepower and goes faster). As soon as I can afford it, I am buying another Corvette.

    I think Porsches are and have always been butt ugly and I think that German cars in particular are pretentious. Japanese cars are dependable and not quite as pretentious but can be a little boring. I hate to say it, but something about Japanese and German cars just seems less masculine to me and it makes me wonder if the guy can perform, if you catch my drift. Italian cars are nice-looking but too expensive for most.

    We all know that people buy any sports or luxury car because they want their peers to admire them. So the question is, who is your audience? I’m attracted to guys who drive muscle cars and I was raised with a respect for muscle cars so that’s what I prefer.

    And by the way, back in the 80′s Mattel did make a Corvette Barbie car (which was in my toybox!)that was the same body type as my Corvette, so I used to call my Corvette “my Barbie car”. There was also a Barbie Porsche Boxster a few years back. And there was a Barbie Ferrari. So there is nothing insulting about being a Barbie car (or a Matchbox car, for that matter)and in fact it is really smart marketing when you think about it (groom those little bast-, I mean kids, to be future car buyers and inspire brand loyalty).


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India