Thread: 2008 Chevrolet Corvette coupe
05-24-2008, 10:16 AM #1
2008 Chevrolet Corvette coupe
2008 Chevrolet Corvette coupe
Refinements make for improvements on many fronts
By Ron Amadon, MarketWatch
Last update: 7:15 a.m. EDT May 24, 2008
DAMASCUS, Md. (MarketWatch) -- It's amazing: The basic Corvette style, around for years, still turns heads. Especially when it comes in what Chevy calls "atomic orange metallic" paint.
Here's a bulletin from the Corvette-minded brain: "Oh my, that was fun!" You'll hear that a lot when behind the wheel of even the base model.
The 'Vette, you see, just keeps getting better and better. See slide show.
Beneath the skin, the Corvette has undergone some changes.
A new 6.2-liter, LS3 small-block engine is in the base coupe and convertible models, picking up 30 horsepower over the 2007 model. Add the optional two-mode exhaust system, and that figure goes to 436 horsepower with 428 pound-feet of torque at 4,600 rpm.
Chevy says it will top out at 190 mph and go from zero to 60 in 4.5 seconds with the six-speed manual transmission and 4.3 seconds with the automatic/paddle shifted car. (Our test model had the six-speed and including a boatload of options, its price tag came to $60,436.)
The shifter has become more precise for '08, but perhaps for some it's just a tad on the heavy side.
Chevy's made a slew of changes in the LS3 engine to get some extra power. We won't bore you with bore and stroke, beyond saying the bore has been increased and the stroke comes when an unwitting passenger is on board when you floor it.
From almost any speed, the eight is ready to emit just the right sounds -- perhaps best expressed as pure American V8. It's better than any apple pie for putting a smile on the face of any fun-loving driver.
This V8's different from those in high-speed cars from Europe. It still rumbles a little more, and perhaps it's a little less refined, but it has awesome power and a roar that's pure Corvette.
It's a two-mode performance exhaust system, which is a bit like getting a huge high-definition TV when all you've ever watched is a 19-inch set in black and white.
It uses vacuum-actuated outlet valves, which control engine noise very well during low-speed operation. They open for maximum performance during high-speed maneuvers and emit a baritone-like sound that is sweet, sweet music of the mechanical variety.
With 18-inch wheels up front and 19's to the rear, the handling is out of sight. This would be a wonderful car to take to your favorite track or back road: The whole package just hangs in there in any cornering situation that's even somewhat sane.
Chevy says the coupe is the most aerodynamic Corvette ever, with a 0.286 coefficient of drag.
Inside, all instruments are easy to read, the controls for ventilation and audio came readily to hand, and the seats are infinitely adjustable.
The interior of our tester came with the optional custom leather-wrapped package, which carries the leather theme from the seats to the dash and elsewhere with a nice hand-stitched look. The leather-wrapped wheel had both tilt and telescopic adjustments, making it easy to get your comfort level up to a full-fledged 10.
Under the hatch is a rather large storage area with a fabric security cover over it. We amazed some folks by loading all of our groceries back there with room to spare. In fact, you can get a good amount of not-too-tall stuff back there, including a Saturday golf bag.
The optional Bose audio system was good, and there was a handy jack for an iPod or MP3 player.
We loved the clear top on our test car, even though it occasionally creaked over bumps. It really brightens up the interior.
Our tester also had the optional Z51 Performance Handling Package. It stiffens up the ride a bit, and while we liked it, we recommend you try it before signing on the bottom line. It might be too stiff for those with, how can we put this diplomatically, sensitive bottoms.
With the exception of the missing paddle shifts, our tester fit our definition of the perfect Corvette. It has all the power, performance, and handling one has ever dreamed about from the marquee.
Truth be told, we've always loved the Corvette, dating back to the old "Route 66" show, which we believe was broadcast in sparking black and white.
In addition, we strongly recommend that if the household finances permit, you should own one before going off to that big garage in the sky.
Vehicles tested in this column are on loan from the auto companies through local distributors.
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Ron Amadon is a morning news anchor on the MarketWatch Radio Network