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Thread: 2008 Chevy Corvette

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    2008 Chevy Corvette

    How much difference does 20 years make? In the case of the Chevy Corvette, about 200 horsepower. That is - roughly - the difference in the rated horsepower of the current car's standard V-8 (430 horsepower) vs. the output of a mid-late '80s Corvette (around 230-250 hp).

    Stunning, isn't it?

    A mid-late '80s Corvette was a quick car; mid-13 second quarter miles, 150 mph top speeds. But by today's standards, that is (almost ) Camry Country. Anything less than 300 horsepower is no big deal.

    Which is why today's Corvette is such an over-achiever. Because, in a word, it has to be.

    ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

    The base engine in the 2008 Corvette is a 6.2 liter V-8 that makes 430 horsepower. Incredible. That is a 30 hp uptick over last year - and a staggering 50 horsepower more than the "king of the hill" ZR-1 Corvette of the 1990s. Remember? The one with the four-valve, DOHC V-8 developed jointly with Lotus? And here we have a two-valve, pushrod V-8 whose basic layout is not far-removed from the very first small block Chevy V-8 of 1955. And it easily outguns the fancy DOHC "ultimate" Corvette. And while we're at it, any of the big-block Corvettes of the 1960s and early '70s, too.

    None of them could nail 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. The '08 Corvette can with ease. Only a handful of the barely streetable big blocks of the late '60s could match the current car's high 12 second quarter mile time slips. (And only by sacrificing air conditioning, wearing drag slicks and shaking so hard from the lumpy cam profile that you worried the engine might tear itself apart at any moment.)

    Easy access to 140 mph is just a stab of the gas pedal away; you'll find it at the top of fourth gear - with two more gears left to go.

    Better yet, Corvette delivers all this performance at the yard sale price of just $46,100 for the base coupe. That is about what you'd pay for a well-equipped mid-size SUV or loaded crossover.

    Only the 'Vette's a lot more enjoyable.

    And if you need even more in the way of automotive brass knuckles, there's a new for '08 "427" version of the already legendary Z06 - today's "ultimate" ultimate Corvette. It (and the regular Z06) are powered by a larger, 7 liter V-8 that makes 505 horsepower - 75 more than the standard Corvette. The Z06 is a fiberglass cage fighter that can break into the elevens in the quarter mile - with 200 mph top end capability.

    Though much more expensive than a regular Corvette, the Z06 ($71,275) and limited edition 427 Z06 ($83,345) are still tens of thousands less than the six-figure exotics they can smack around the room like Sonny did to his sister's weasel of a husband in "The Godfather."

    And the standard Corvette's stats are arguably even more amazing - because it can run with those six figure exotics yet is still within the financial grasp of Joe Sixpack.

    If that doesn't make you grin like a demented hillbilly, probably nothing is going to do the trick.

    RIDE & HANDLING

    As with straight-line performance, the Corvette is an incredible piece of equipment whose capabilities are both stratospheric yet accessible. You can corner in a 'Vette at speeds that would have meant serious peril for all but the most-skilled drivers in the not too-far distant past - with one hand on the wheel and the other changing radio stations. Not that you would, of course - but you absolutely could.

    To really work the 'Vette - and test your own limits - almost requires a race track. This is a blessing and a curse, of course. A blessing, because the Corvette can be driven very fast very easily yet still well within the envelope of total controllability. It is virtually impossible to get in over your head - unless you are being purposely stupid.

    The curse part is that it's difficult to really experience - and fully enjoy - the totality of what this car can do outside of a test track or road race course. Taking decreasing radius corners at doube the posted max speed is child's play; just sit back and let the car do its thing.

    This is true of just about any modern ultra-performance car, of course. The simple fact is that we have ascended an Everest of engineering, in terms of what the cars themselves are able to do - but we're still down at 10,000 ft. or so, in camp with the sherpas and gazing up at the forbidding peaks. Maybe we'll get there; maybe we won't.

    But if we do, the view is going to be something!

    The other thing about the Corvette is that it's easy as well as pleasant to drive at much less than all-out. Visibility/lines of sight are excellent; the car does not feel as big as it in fact is - despite the traditional long hood and hunkered down posture. I recommend the optional ($1,195) Magnetic Ride Suspension, or MRC. This is a have your cake and eat it, too kind of deal. The MRC uses special dampers (shock absorbers, in plain english) filled with a viscous fluid that holds tiny magnetic particles in suspension. When these particles are hit with current, the damping force is increased (or decreased), allowing ride firmness to be altered almost instantaneously and continuously, to follow both road conditions as well as how aggressively you happen to be driving. Basically, the more you get into it, the firmer the ride becomes; ease back - and the suspension mellows out.

    MRC is much more flexible than most adjustable suspensions that typically have two or sometimes three settings - forcing you to choose or toggle back and forth from "normal" to "sport" to "comfort" - and so on.

    STYLING & UTILITY

    The current Corvette is an attractive car but not as visually provocative as the Corvettes of the 1960s and early '70s. But it is a classy-looking thing with definite exotic car presence and just enough traditional Corvette DNA to be instantly recognizable as a Corvette but sans much of the penis mobile stigma of some previous 'Vettes. Getting to the engine is also much easier without the previous generation's interesting but heavy and awkward clamshell hood. I don't miss the pop-up headlights much.

    For a two-seater, it has a roomy cabin with several clever storage cubbies integrated into the layout and a total cargo capacity of 22-plus cubic feet - which is huge compared to almost any other similar car out there. (The Corvette can handle more stuff than my mid-'70s Pontiac Trans-Am muscle car, which has back seats but a pathetically small trunk that can barely take a spare tire.)

    QUALITY/SAFETY

    No faulting the exterior of the car - which is as beautifully executed (materials and workmanship) as the basic lines are pleasing to the eye. The only area where the Corvette's reasonable price manifests itself in (ahem!) "reasonable" materials and workmanship is the interior. It's perfectly nice - just not as meticulously finished and high-end looking as what you'd find in a Porsche or Ferrari or BMW M series.

    A small thing in the grand scheme of things.

    Far more important, I think, is that, Corvette has proved itself a durable exotic that is much less fussy and expensive to keep on the road than the cars it runs with. The brilliant LS-Series V-8 (both the standard 6.2 liter and the Z06's 7 liter version) are remarkable not just for their very high output but also for the essential simplicity of their design. Just one camshaft operating two valves per cylinder. Literally half or less the moving parts of a DOHC V-8 and thus, fewer things to break or replace if anything does break. It is hard to kill a Corvette.

    As with wrecking one, it's hard to do - and almost requires deliberate stupidity.

    Every Corvette comes standard with a high-tech "active" handling system that comprises both traction control and stability control into a single system. It has enough flexibility built in to accommodate high-skill drivers and novices - allowing increasing or decreasing amounts of wheelslip/intervention. It can also be turned fully off for total driver control. (The only thing I didn't like about it is that when you turn the system off, you lose some of the driver info readouts - which get trumped by a digital warning that the trac/stability control is off. Probably lawyers are responsible for this.)

    DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

    Nothing equals the raging bull experience of a big V-8 with gobs of torque available throughout the range - made sweeter by the 7,000 RPM redline and seemingly bottomless horsepower reserves that well up the deeper you plant your right foot. Hit it and the 'Vette bellows forward, each gear change bringing another surge of forward thrust like a Saturn V rocket igniting its next stage. The Corvette is both muscle car and sports car - brutal in a straight line; balanced and precise in a turn. Great brakes, too. A magnificent machine. "For the money" or otherwise. No qualifier is needed. The thing flat out rocks.

    There is only thing I did not like about driving the Corvette - and that is the attention one gets from cops. It makes you paranoid - and makes you drive like a little old lady. This, of course, is an issue with any high-performance two-seater. It goes with the territory, just as hip-huggers on a college co-ed are going to make heads turn. Only the extra attention you get in the 'Vette may not be the kind you want. The situation can be ameliorated by choosing a color that lets the car blend in a bit better. My test car, of course, was neutron electric blue and seemed to radiate like a small fusion reactor - causing every cop I came near to look up from his bag of Krispy Kremes and give me the nonplussed once-over.

    That aside, this Corvette is by far the most enjoyable on a day-in, day-out basis I have ever driven. The Corvettes of the '60s and '70s were huge image cars that people drooled over and lusted after. But they were harsh companions if you actually did end up buying one - with constricted and uncomfortable interiors, harsh rides and often barbaric drivetrains that delivered plenty of performance but made you suffer for every horsepower. They were cool cars, but absolutely not in the same league as Porsches or Ferraris. This Corvette is.

    THE BOTTOM LINE

    Aside from having to constantly worry about cops, the Corvette is very nearly perfect. It's more everyday liveable car than a Ferrari or Porsche - as well as a helluva lot more affordable. But despite its civility and middle class price tag, when provoked, there are few cars out there with the Stuff to match the Corvette's moves - whether on a road course or dragging down a quarter mile.

    Other cars may be more "exotic" - but these days, it's mostly only in terms of their MSRP.

    END

  2. #2
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    Re: 2008 Chevy Corvette

    Good article, I am curious could you tell the difference in performance of the new LS3 Corvette vs. the now defunct LS2 Corvette?

    As a side note I think the LS3 Corvette is a little underrated, notice how it's pulling the same performance figures as a 500 horsepower 2008 Shelby GT500 Mustang. Granted the GT500 has got at least 400 more lbs on the Corvette, but still with the LS3 Corvette having 70 horsepower less the LS3 Corvette their both dead even in performance tests. It's a little bit fishy to me.

  3. #3

    Re: 2008 Chevy Corvette

    I'd personally mention that the MRC isnt all that great, I have it on my Corvette.
    Yes, the options are nice to have, but its "soft" setting isnt as soft as the base suspension, and its "hard" setting isnt as hard as the z51 suspension. Not only that, but the shocks are outrageously expensive to replace should you ever wear them out (think $400+ EACH).

    In my experience, even the z51 suspension is completely livable for daily driving (not saying this just as a young person, my father-in-law has a z51 corvette himself), so you'd be better off getting that.
    '06 Lotus Elise, '07 Saturn Sky Redline

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    Re: 2008 Chevy Corvette

    Which Z51 suspension are you comparing your suspension to? The early C4 Z51 was really rough, it would almost knock your teeth out when you hit a pothole. The newer Z51 Corvette suspensions are much more civilized.

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 2008 Chevy Corvette

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete
    Good article, I am curious could you tell the difference in performance of the new LS3 Corvette vs. the now defunct LS2 Corvette?

    As a side note I think the LS3 Corvette is a little underrated, notice how it's pulling the same performance figures as a 500 horsepower 2008 Shelby GT500 Mustang. Granted the GT500 has got at least 400 more lbs on the Corvette, but still with the LS3 Corvette having 70 horsepower less the LS3 Corvette their both dead even in performance tests. It's a little bit fishy to me.
    Thanks!

    I tend to agree; the base car feels really strong. I was not kidding about 140 in 4th. And it is still pulling hard at 140, too. The damn thing can move ....

  6. #6
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 2008 Chevy Corvette

    Quote Originally Posted by damen
    I'd personally mention that the MRC isnt all that great, I have it on my Corvette.
    Yes, the options are nice to have, but its "soft" setting isnt as soft as the base suspension, and its "hard" setting isnt as hard as the z51 suspension. Not only that, but the shocks are outrageously expensive to replace should you ever wear them out (think $400+ EACH).

    In my experience, even the z51 suspension is completely livable for daily driving (not saying this just as a young person, my father-in-law has a z51 corvette himself), so you'd be better off getting that.
    This is a very subjective/personal call. What "Bob" will find harsh/over firm, "Ted" will think is ok - or even too soft. I always encourage prospective buyers to test drive each variant of the car they are looking at to see which they like the best.

  7. #7
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    Re: 2008 Chevy Corvette

    Just posted this article on the main site with pictures:




    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/...0&Itemid=10848

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