"America's first and purest sportscar is at last pounding British roads"
The Corvette C6 achieves all of that and more. Ask any bunch of committed petrolheads to identify what was wrong with the Corvette C5 and you'd rapidly achieve consensus. For all its power, the car was just too big and unwieldy. The interior looked entirely too petrochemical to cut it in an aspirational market and you were forced to sit on the wrong side of the car. Whilst Chevrolet is doing nothing to remedy the last complaint, the other two have been addressed, more or less successfully, in the C6. Most cars pile on the weight with each successive generation. There are exceptions - Toyota's third generation MR2 springs to mind - but as a rule, the onset of middle age spread is hard to reverse. The Corvette is a far leaner product than its predecessor. It also possesses a far more purposeful stance with the wheels moved out to each corner, helping both interior packaging and handling balance. Combine the weight loss plan with an increase in swept volume to fully 6.2-litres and you've got a very potent car indeed. Not that the C5 was particularly tardy in a straight line. The C6 is in a different league, altogether and now trades punches with cars two or three times the Vette's asking price (£39,999 for the Coupe and £46,499 for the Convertible). With 437PS on tap, the Corvette can generate an awesome 575 Nm of torque at 4600 rpm. Yet it weighs about the same as a Mitsubishi Evo VIII, a car hardly renowned as a lardy bloater.
Performance from a standstill is suitably explosive. Manhandle the heavyweight six speed Tremec gearshift into first gear, dial in around 3,750 revs and sidestep the clutch pedal. Get it right and you should get the merest chirp of wheelspin as the bonnet rises ahead of you and catapults the car up the track and through 60mph in 4.4 seconds. Get it wrong and you'll be bathed in the acrid aroma of sizzled tyres or clutch plate. The Corvette keeps going until it runs out of steam 186mph. Buyers hungry for even more performance should probably submit themselves for immediate psychiatric assessment and then ask their local dealer about the Corvette Z06 - a model that, for £62,000, delivers 512bhp by means of a 7.0-litre V8. Along with the more athletic stance, most will notice the projector front headlamps that have replaced the pop-up items, must to the chagrin of Corvette enthusiasts. Pedestrian safety laws have spelt the end for this design feature. Plus the fact that the latest fixed units are lighter, brighter, cheaper to manufacture and give the Corvette's front end a little more personality. From the front it looks as if the personality it has chosen to adopt is that of a Ferrari 360 Modena but if you're going to ape anything, Maranello's finest isn't a bad start. The interior looks a good deal more European, even if passengers do get a hugely unsubtle 'Corvette' script emblazoned across the airbag cut out in front of them. The fascia features some brightwork to lift it and the materials quality has improved from dreadful to rather acceptable. On closer inspection, the fit and finish isn't really up to snuff, but it at least passes initial muster. What the cabin lacks in quality it makes up in quantity, both in terms of space and when it comes to standard fit features. Choose the targa version and there's plenty of room for flattish luggage, although it will get a little broiled by the glass hatch. Elbow, head and shoulder room is all very good, legroom not quite so stellar. What's refreshing is that the Corvette isn't trying to be self consciously smart. Sit in a BMW 6 series and you end up intimidated by the impenetrable i-Drive and the myriad obscure minor controls. Sit in a Corvette and you just punch a few chubby buttons and get on with it. Just because it's simple to plug and play doesn't mean the Corvette lacks sophistication. The anti-lock brakes, traction control and Active Handling stability control systems all work in concert with one another to provide a welcome and effective safety net. The fascia dials are laudably clear and the head-up display that projects data onto the base of the windscreen may no longer be such a novelty but it works so well it's puzzling why it hasn't been more widely adopted. Some things don't change. The Corvette is still one of the few sporting cars that you can get something from at legal speeds, ambling along surfing the V8's wall of torque. Get a bit keener and the car ups its game, the engine note changing from a mellifluous burble to a steely bellow. The brakes and steering are complicit, offering plenty of feel and grip levels are enormous. It feels properly sorted, the body control over typical British roads being far better than its predecessor. There's no crashing and shimmying, just a muted thud as it sucks up cats eyes and expansion joints. It's a deeply impressive showing. Many of you will still have difficulty reconciling sporting credibility with a Chevrolet Corvette but this is a car that has developed into something a whole lot sharper than the chestwig specials of the early nineties. Pour on the power and it feels like a slice of genuine exotica. When you pause to consider a bloodline that stretches back over fifty years, perhaps it's not a moment too soon.
Facts at a Glance
Facts At A Glance CAR: Chevrolet Corvette C6 PRICES: £39,999 (Coupe) / £46,499 (Convertible) INSURANCE GROUP: 20 CO2 EMISSIONS: 316g/km PERFORMANCE: Max Speed 186mph / 0-60mph 4.4s FUEL CONSUMPTION: (urban) 14.3mpg / (extra urban) 30.7mpg / (combined) 21.2mpg STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: Twin front airbags / ABS / Traction Control System./ Active Handling WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: Length/Width/Height 4459/1927/1246mm