Chevrolet Corvette Review

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Ever since I can remember, the Chevrolet Corvette has been the fat Elvis of sports cars. Every few years, someone would try to convince me that “America’s sports car” had received the engineering upgrades it needed to restore faded glory. But no. The latest ‘Vette was always a dynamic disaster: a feeble chassis married to lackluster brakes and an incompetent suspension, with more than enough horsepower to make it swap ends with frightening ease. Oh, and the car’s interior remained the only place capable of making a Motel 6 bedroom seem luxurious.

When the latest generation Corvette convertible hoved into view, my expectations were lower than its pavement-scuffing front fascia. Within a week I went from outright hostility to perplexed suspicion, to grudging admiration, to total addiction. The new Corvette still provides plenty of grist for a critic’s mill, but it is, finally, a car an enthusiast can grab by the scruff of its neck, thrash to an inch of its redline, throw into a corner and live to tell the tale.

And oh, what tales! Of vicious corners conquered at heroic speeds, to the sound of ripping rubber and Odin’s induction hammer. Of careening down open highways, posting an ascending stream of triple digit numbers on an ethereal display, knowing there are two more gears left in the V8’s quiver. Of leaping trains of stupefied traffic in a single bound, downing that heady cocktail of schadenfreude and temporal freedom that comes from leaving fellow road users for dead.

Of course, there’s nothing particularly sophisticated about Chevy’s supercar soufflé: light weight, low center of gravity, loads of power, epic torque and sticky tires. By the same token, Lenox Lewis’ right hook isn’t the most elegant of punches, but it gets the job done. That said, the credit for the ‘Vette’s transformation from gold chain goliath to serious sports car goes to its controllable chassis and indefatigable brakes.

Whereas previous ‘Vettes felt as skittish as a new born foal, the new, smaller C6 is planted and predictable all the way to the limits of adhesion– and beyond! Whereas previous ‘Vettes had a Harley Davidson’s ability to make you think ‘OK, I’d really like to stop now’, the C6 ceases forward motion with all the finality of a period hammered into the end of a declarative sentence. [NB: The test car included the nominally optional Z51 Performance Package.]

The Corvette’s inability to maintain lateral stability over broken pavement is its Achilles heel. Blast the ‘Vette over a stretch of rippled concrete and the machine dry-quaplanes. For an infinite instant, the Corvette’s helm has no effect whatsoever on the car’s direction. Bottom line: a Porsche pilot can attack a road without undue concern about surface quality, while a sensible ‘Vette driver must constantly monitor the situation, back-off when necessary, or die. With that limitation in mind, caning a C6 Corvette is as much fun as you can have with your clothes on– unless you drive naked.

In every other way, the Corvette is the same old piece of kit. Aesthetically, it’s so not a classic it hurts. Faired-in projector headlights, descending front and rear strakes (that make the car look like it’s sagging in the middle), blobular side mirrors, circular taillights– the Devil’s in the details. The previous Corvette’s Rubenesque body displayed a purity of form and simplicity of line that a Ferraristi could [grudgingly] admire. The new shape is more Viper than voluptuous.

Once again, still, the ‘Vette’s interior is cheaper (and nastier) than malt liquor. The cabin is suffused with model airplane plastic– from the world’s flimsiest ashtray to the most unconvincing metal-effect binnacle ever created by hand of man. The wet-look plastic cowls behind the seats is existentially horrendous; why do bad things happen to good polymers? The ‘Vette’s seats lack sufficient lateral bolstering for maximum G’s, or thigh support for long distance love. And the steering wheel looks like a decapitated dwarf.

Chevy’s usual defense is to reprise the Bang for The Buck theme song and hope the audience hums the tune as it leaves the showroom, forgiving and forgetting the Corvette’s ergonomic and aesthetic failings. The truth is that the C6’s action sequences are compelling enough for endless repeats, while the V8’s soundtrack (above 4000rpm) haunts the enthusiast’s dreams. Sure, but is the new Corvette better than a 911 or, for that matter, a Boxster S? That depends on whether you prefer the perfectly polished energy of the young, RCA Elvis; or the raw power of Mr. ’68 Comeback Special. Either way, open-minded pistonheads can rejoice: fat Elvis has left the building.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X The push for EV's is part of the increase in our premiums. Any damage near the battery pack and the car is a total loss.
  • Geozinger Up until recently this was on my short list of cars to replace my old car. However, it didn't pass the "knee test" with my wife as her bad knee makes it difficult for her to get in and out of a sedan. I saw a number of videos about the car and it seems like the real deal as a sporting sedan. In addition I like the low price, too, but it was bad luck/timing that we didn't get to pull the trigger on this one.
  • ToolGuy I agree with everyone here. Of course there are exceptions to what I just said, don't take everything so literally. The important thing is that I weighed in with my opinion, which is helping to move things forward. I believe we can all agree that I make an important contribution (some will differ, that is their prerogative). A stitch in time saves nine. Life isn't fair, you know. I have more to say but will continue at our next meeting. You can count on that, for I am a man of my word. We will make it happen. There might be challenges. I mean, it is what it is. This too shall pass. All we can do is all we can do. These meetings are never really long enough for me to completely express all the greatness within me, are they? Let's meet to discuss. All in a day's work. After all, Rome wasn't built in a day. At the end of the day, I must say I agree with you. I think you will agree. When all is said and done, there is more said than done. But of course that is just one man's opinion. You are free to disagree. As I like to say...(I am working on my middle management skills -- how am I doing?)
  • Golden2husky Have to say he did an excellent job on the C7, especially considering the limited budget he was given. I am very happy with my purchase.
  • Marty The problem isn't range; it's lack of electricity in multi-unit building parking. All you need is level 1 - a standard 120v wall socket - and if you're plugged in 10 hours overnight you get 280 miles per week or more. That's enough for most folks but you can use public charging to supplement when needed. Installing conduit circuits and outlets is simple and cheap; no charge stations needed.
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