By Jon Rosner, Tue, 25 Jan 2005 08:00:00 PDT
The first thing that we noticed about the new Corvette was the "Big Bird Yellow" paint, the car really stood out. We checked the gaps on the plastic panels, very good and consistent fit. And a closer look at the paint showed that it too was very high quality.
Stepping into the car was easier than expected, the seats immediately felt very supportive in the lower back and the bolsters would definitely keep you in place while not making entrance and exit difficult. After using the electric buttons to move the seat and steering column into place all the controls fell to hand perfectly.
The dashboard gauges were simple round clusters, very easy to read, one of the best found on any car. The radio, heat and air conditioning controls are utterly simple and a little plain, but function perfectly.
The interior, like the exterior is a new benchmark for the Corvette, interior materials and panel fit equal or better the Japanese in all areas but one. There is a slight gap at the end of each door where the bright paint is visible, a gap that a piece of rubber could easily hide. Given that this is an early car I hope that this gets covered as it is the only mar on a truly superbly done interior.
The view through the windshield, side windows and side mirrors were superb and the blind spots were quite minimal, high praise for any sports car. The one less than satisfactory part is that there is mild distortion looking through the long rear glass.
At 400 horsepower and Baldwin Locomotive levels of torque available it did not take a heavy foot to produce light wheelspin in accelerating out of a parking lot, turning to get onto the main road.
But we have not even reached the good part. The engine, automatic transmission and geartrain worked in unison, very smooth and pretty uncommon in a vehicle with this much sheer power. You could feel the wide tires with their tenacious grip on the road. The car, smaller, lighter, shorter, with a longer wheelbase and more power has a tighter road feel that the 2004 model which was also an excellent car.
The acceleration was incredible, mainly because it was on command and completely controllable. There was only one stretch of very empty highway where we had a brief chance to open it up, And at half throttle it sang to triple digits in the blink of an eye, fortunately the four wheel disk brakes well match the engine's power. The grip from the fat tires, light rims and ultra stiff chassis meant that you could turn in as quickly as desired on far from perfect pot-holed corners with zero chassis shudder.
The more experience we gained with the car the better, and less intimidating it felt. On a back country road the car came into it's own, handling the undulating tarmac, potholes, off-camber curves with the grace of a very well-developed car.
We didn't even try to put in a safety seat. The 2005 Corvette was a very satisfying car to drive. Over a week of light use we didn't use more than tank of gas, the fuel consumption was about 19 miles per gallon, incredibly good.
For the first time the fit and finish of the Corvette match the asking price. And true supercar performance is available without the rough edges all too common on very high priced cars coming from Europe. No the Corvette does not have the latest overhead cam engine design, instead it has a much more compact, lighter and far more efficient overhead valve design. The C6 is a brilliant bit of engineering and for the first time can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best on the market. Nice job Chevrolet, you did it right.