The Corvette has been an American icon since 1955. That makes it one of the longest running nameplates in the business and perhaps best known American car world wide. It's also got a well-deserved reputation for being brutally fast and a not-so-well-deserved reputation for being unsophisticated.
|2010 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport|
Base Price: $58,580
At-Tested Price: $75,740
Built in Bowling Green, Kentucky
4LT Premium Equipment Group
Grand Sport Heritage Package
Six-Speed Automatic Transmission
Velocity Yellow Tintcoat Paint
Engine: 6.2-Liter V8
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
Drive Wheels: Rear-Wheel Drive
It competes against a handful of vehicles, most costing tens of thousands of dollars more. Cars like the Dodge Viper, Nissan GT R, and Porsche 911 are direct-market competitors, but the Corvette also tilts a lance at super cars like the Audi A8, Ferrari 599 GTB and California, Lamborghini Murciélago and Gallardo and Mercedes-Benz SLR.
In fact, with the demise of the Dodge Viper at the end of 2010, the Corvette will be the last true American super car. It offers gobs of horsepower, side-splitting cornering, and a world-class pedigree earned by years of championships at races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
As it has been since its introduction, the 2010 Corvette is rear-wheel drive two-seat sports car. Four models are available, Base, new-for-2010 Grand Sport, Z06, and limited-production ZR-1. The Base and Grand Sport come in coupe or convertible form. Z06 and ZR-1 are offered only as coupes. Base and Grand Sport get a 430-horsepower 6.2-liter V8. Z06 gets a 505-horsepower 7.0-liter V8, while the ZR-1 gets a supercharged 638-horsepower (yes, that right) 6.2-liter V8. All models get a limited slip differential and traction control. Base and Grand Sport buyers choose between a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. Z06 and ZR-1 buyers get the six-speed manual. All manual-transmission models get Launch Control, which modulates engine speed in order to maximize grip during full-throttle launches.
Coupes have a body-colored removable roof panel while convertible models get a manually folding convertible top with a glass rear window. A power-operated top and tonnau cover are optional.
Standard safety features include antilock four-wheel disc brakes, stability control, tire-pressure monitor and dual-front and front-side air bags. Side-curtain airbags, rear-view monitor, and park assist are not offered.
The Base model lists for $48,930 in coupe form and $53,580 as a convertible. It includes air conditioning with dual-zone automatic climate controls and interior air filter, OnStar assistance system with one year service, tilt leather-wrapped steering wheel with radio controls, cruise control, leather upholstery, six-way power driver seat, center console, heated power mirrors, power windows, power door locks, keyless access and starting, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player with digital-media player connection, satellite radio, outside-temperature indicator, intermittent wipers, automatic day/night rearview mirror, compass, illuminated visor mirrors, rear defogger, automatic headlights, floormats, theft-deterrent system, HID headlights, fog lights, 245/40ZR18 front and 285/35ZR19 rear run-flat tires and alloy wheels.
The new Grand Sport coupe lists for $54,770 and the GS convertible starts at $58,580. It adds to the Base a performance axle ratio, heavy-duty engine cooling, uprated brakes, sport suspension and 275/35ZR18 front and 325/30ZR19 rear run-flat tires.
The Z06 has a base price of $74,285 and adds to the Grand Sport the 7.0-liter V8, head-up instrument display, and a fixed roof panel. The ZR-1 lists for $106,880 and adds the supercharged V8, performance suspension with Magnetic Selective Ride Control, carbon fiber hood, roof panel, roof bow, front-fascia splitter, and rocker moldings and 285/30ZR19 front and 335/25ZR20 rear run-flat tires. The ZR1 also adds a Performance Traction Management system, which automatically adjusts the traction control and suspension to suit high-performance driving.
Options include power telescope steering wheel, six-way power passenger seat, memory system, extended leather upholstery, unique interior trim, navigation system with voice recognition, Bose sound system, Bluetooth cell-phone link, universal garage door opener, and cargo net and cover. Chevrolet also offers a Museum Delivery plan that costs $480 and includes a VIP guided tour of the Corvette Assembly Plant, personalized delivery presentation, unique gold decal in the inside of the driver's door jamb, a one-year membership to the National Corvette Museum, and a commemorative plaque.
The Corvette is assembled in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and has a destination charge of $950.
Get Up and Go The Corvette has long been one of the fastest cars in the world and the 2010 edition is no exception. Most tests peg the 0-60 mph time of the Base and Grand Sport to be between 4.2 and 4.5 seconds. Midrange passing power is unsurpassed and the engine has a high-end punch that pushes the Corvette into triple-digit speeds in less than 9 seconds. That's fast.
Faster still is the Z06 which will run from 0-60 in about 3.7 seconds. Want more power? Opt for the king of the hill ZR-1. It runs from 0-60 mph in less than 3.5 seconds.
Blistering acceleration wouldn't mean a thing if the Corvette couldn't put the power to the pavement. Thanks to meaty rear tires and some very sophisticated electronic controls, the 'Vette is as controllable in hard acceleration as a bread van (unless, of course, you turn off the traction control). Though, driving a Corvette in a Chicago winter is oxymoronic.
The manual transmission has a meaty feel and the clutch an appropriate weight. The Automatic transmission upshifts very smoothly but downshifts require a healthy stab at the throttle. The standard steering wheel-mounted paddles work as advertised and almost make up for the slow-to-downshift tendencies of the automatic.
EPA fuel economy numbers for the automatic-equipped Grand Sport are 15 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. As they say, your numbers may vary--greatly.
Driven with a gentile right foot and an eye on maximizing efficiency, you can average 20 mpg in light-duty commuting. Straight highway driving is likely to yield about 22 mpg and rush-hour slogging and performance driving will net no better than 15 mpg. Chevrolet recommends premium-grade fuel for the Base and Grand Sport engine and require premium-grade fuel for the Z06 and ZR-1.
On the Road No Corvette is going to ride with the serenity of a family sedan, however, the base suspension might just might impress a few skeptics who think that sports car can't ride with enough smoothness for Chicago's tough pock-marked roads. Big pumps still pound through, but there's enough sophistication to absorb expansion joints and the like.
Things grow firmer quickly with the optional suspension on the Grand Sport, then the Z06 and finally the kidney-pounding ZR-1. The suspension settings on those vehicles will satisfy the enthusiast but turn off more casual drivers who are looking for a weekend touring car.
Regardless of model, the Corvette is one of the best handling cars in the world. The ultra-wide tires provide tenacious grip in corners and the suspension recovers quickly when you encounter bumps in high-speed corners. The steering is ultra quick and has a nice heavy feel and the huge brakes stop the car quickly with no hint of fade.
The wide tires do wander a bit on crowned roads and that gets somewhat tiring on longer trips. That's a common flaw of sports cars and one that there's no solution to.
If driven moderately, the Corvette is actually quite tranquil--the engine burbles along in the background and wind and road noise are modest. Tip into the throttle a bit and things change dramatically as the engine grunts along with a baritone flare. Base and Grand Sport owners can opt for a dual mode exhaust setup that adds a few horsepower and a lovely staccato blast above 4000 rpm--kind of like the afterburners kicking in on a fighter jet. Very cool.
Top down, the convertible has modest wind buffeting at highway speed that only moderately affects normal conversation.
Behind the Wheel If the Corvette has an Achilles Heal it's the interior. Not because of the design or even the room, which is great for the class, but because the materials fall short of most competitors. Over the past few years Chevrolet has upped the ante with a stitched leather-covered dash top and some additional padded surfaces, but the overall effect isn't one of luxury or sport. Add to that the generic center stack and you end up with an interior that's a step below most competitors from an ambiance standpoint.
Functionally there's hardly anything to complain about. The gauges are large and easy to read and the optional head-up display is top notch. Climate controls are simple and clear but the optional navigation system seems woefully 2005 tech.
The front seats are very firm and formfitting. They are surprisingly comfortable on long trips. Leg room is great and head room good in convertibles and better in coupes. The cabin is also a good bit wider than most sports cars and that's a bonus that is unexpected.
Driver's sit low but there's still a decent view of the road ahead. Tilt wheel is standard and there's a power telescoping option. Coupes have thick rear pillars that block the view astern, however, extra-wide outside mirrors help. You step down quite a bit into the Corvette and the wide door sills and long doors further complicate matters for taller drivers.
Coupe or convertible, the Corvette has roomy trunk. That's surprising in this class and a big plus. Even convertible models can fit two golf bags. Coupes have more space. Both body styles have a high liftover, so beware when loading heavy items. Note that the convertible has small storage cubbies located behind the rear seats. Standard cockpit storage is minimal limited to two cup holders, slim map pockets, and a very shallow center console.
Bottom Line The Chevrolet Corvette is the Rodney Dangerfield of super cars--and I mean that in the best possible way. When compared to Ferraris or Lamborghinis, the Corvette gets no respect but soundly trounces them on the race track and as a street car.
The 'Vette certainly has a brash American attitude, but it tempers that with a "reasonable" base price and a level of roadability that most super cars can not match. Mash down the go pedal and the Corvette turns mundane sedans and coupes into stationary orange road cones.
Sure the Corvette has its critics and it could use an interior freshening, however, the is no other car like it and driving one makes you feel twenty years younger!
|Specifications, 2010 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport|
|Dimensions||2-door convertible ||Engine||OHV V8|
|Wheelbase, in.||105.7||Size, liters/cu. in.||6.2 / 376|
|Length, in.||174.6||Horsepower @ rpm||436 @ 5900|
|Width, in.||72.6||Torque (lb.-ft.) @ rpm||428 @ 4600|
|Height, in.||49.0||Transmission||6-Speed Automatic|
|Weight, lbs.||3221||EPA Estimates, mpg||15 city / 25 highway|
|Cargo Capacity, cu. ft.||11.0|| || |
|Fuel Capacity, gals.||18.0||Manufacturer's Warranty|
|Seating Capacity||2||Bumper-to-Bumper||3 years / 36,000 miles|
|Front Head Room, in.||43.0||Powertrain||5 years / 100,000 miles|
|Front Leg Room, in.||38.0||Corrosion||6 years / 100,000 miles|
|Second-Row Head Room, in.||--||Free Roadside Assistance||3 years / 36,000 miles|
|Second-Row Leg Room, in.||--||Free Scheduled Maintenance||None|