Year after year, the Chevrolet Corvette is still one of the most sought-after vehicles in the automotive press fleets. And year after year, the car still continues to win praises and accolades.
If I had to search for something to criticize this American icon over it would be the constant chemical smell due to its fiberglass construction. At times it can almost be overwhelming when first climbing in a closed vehicle but as soon as the roof latch is released all that goes away.
New for the 2008 model year is what lies beneath. Power output is now up to 430 ponies courtesy the new LS3 6.2-liter pushrod V-8 engine.
C6 is the current platform designation for Corvette. What this brought was a vehicle new from the ground up and, for the first time since 1962, offers a power option for the convertible top. Designers also went back to an integrated headlight assembly which means no more popups. This is also a design last seen in ’62.
Aggressive aerodynamic styling front and rear as well as sharper side lines give the new Corvette more of that good old American roadster appeal.
This new Vette in base form sports more power than the previous (C5) high output Z06 performer while offering a choice of suspension packages. The C6 also includes the keyless access with remote start feature we first saw on the Cadillac XLR , which was the first GM vehicle to use this new performance two-seater platform. No more fumbling for the keys; just have the key fob in your pocket or purse.
A new exhaust system with larger mufflers at the rear allow the C6 Corvette to operate much quieter under mild driving conditions than previous generations but still emit a nice growl when it’s time to put the pedal to the metal.
New third-generation run-flat tires from Goodyear (18s up front and 19s in the rear) and large vented disc brakes keep C6 firmly grounded and standard Active Handling, traction control and ABS keep things under control.
A new automatic gearbox is now available to back up all that power created by the LS3 engine. Our tester featured the new transmission complete with fingertip paddle-type shift controls on the new three-spoke steering wheel.
Suspension choices include the base four-wheel independent short/long arm double wishbone design with monotube shock absorbers that is tuned for a balance of ride comfort and agility. Our test model Corvette convertible featured the available Magnetic Selective Ride Control system that uses a magneto-rheological damping fluid to react quickly to road conditions with choice of sport or tour modes. The third suspension option is the beefy Z51 performance package that utilizes more aggressive dampers and springs, larger stabilizer bars and enhanced brake components.
Inside we find the latest in electronic technology and components. DVD-based navigation, OnStar, XM-Satellite radios with CD units compatible with MP3 formats and electric door releases inside and out. We also enjoyed the heads-up display, which provides a quick read on necessary driver information including lateral G-force metering.
The 2008 C6 Corvette Convertible from Chevrolet is the total package. A street legal, factory fresh unit that can go from street to track and back again in nothing flat. Corvette still offers one of the best performance values around when comparing dollars per horsepower. And it has the capability of hitting some very good EPA numbers when being driven conservatively. In fact, Corvette is the only 400-plus horsepower sports car NOT currently saddled with a gas guzzler tax.
Pricing on our ragtop tester begins at $53,510 but quickly rises to more than 70 grand fully loaded. Fuel economy is rated at 15 mpg city/25 mpg highway.