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V IS FOR VETTE

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Tue, Jan 29, 2008

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

AMERICAN LEGEND By Harvey Schwartz

By Harvey Schwartz I just love driving a Corvette. America's favorite sports car just keeps getting better and better. And the new 2008 version is the best ever. I tested the C6 with the Z51 package and removable hard top. This is my favorite model (aside from the Z06), and with a base price of only $45,170.00, you can't get anything better than that. There are many upgrades and refinements in this latest C6 Corvette, making it a true super car with a quicker 0-60 mph time of just 4.1 seconds, and a top speed of 190 mph. These numbers are due to the new LS3 6.2 liter, V8 engine that now pumps out 430 horsepower at 5,900 rpm and 424 pound-feet of torque at 4,600rpm. With the new, optional dual-mode exhaust system borrowed from the Z06, horsepower is increased to 436, and torque to 428 pound-feet - with no increase in rpm. This new C6 is near to perfect as you can get. You can drive it everyday to take care of your personal business, and ready to be easily modified for weekend club racing. This new iteration of the famous small-block family features a revised, larger-bore cylinder block, high-flow LS7 style cylinder heads, larger-diameter pistons, revised camshaft and camshaft timing, revised valvetrain with offset intake rocker arms, high-flow intake manifold, high-flow fuel injectors from the LS7, and a new engine beauty cover.

The LS3 features an aluminum cylinder block with cast iron cylinder liners. In addition to its larger bores, which help create the 376 cubic inch displacement, the block casting also features revisions and machining in the bulkheads that enhance its strength and improved bay to bay breathing. Better breathing for the new 6.2 liter engine is accomplished via new, high-flow cylinder heads. There're based on the large port/large valve design found on the LS7 engine with larger-capacity, straighter intake ports. The design optimizes intake flow to the combustion chamber and the exhaust ports are also designed for better flow. Complementing the larger-port design of the heads are larger sized intake and exhaust valves. To accommodate the engine's larger valves and enable more direct intake port flow, the intake-side rocker arms are offset 6mm between the valve tip and the push rod. Actuating the valves is a new camshaft, with intake-side lobes providing more than a five percent increase in lift. Exhaust-valve lift remains unchanged from the LS2. The camshaft timing was revised to optimize performance with the higher-lift intake cam profile. Ensuring that the cylinder heads receive all the air they can handle falls to a new, acoustically tuned intake manifold. The composite design is manufactured with a 'lost core' process that improves runner to runner variation and reduces airflow losses. An acoustical foam material is used to reduce radiated engine noise; it is sandwiched between the outer top of the manifold and an additional 'skull cap' acoustic shell. Also new beauty covers atop the engine shield the rocker covers and also feature a noise-reducing, acoustically tuned insert to provide a more refined engine sound. That Corvette exhaust sound is music to any performance enthusiast and this year the sound is even louder and sweeter thanks to the optional two-mode performance exhaust system. Similar in design and function to the system used on the Z06, the dual-mode exhaust uses vacuum-actuated outlet valves, which control engine noise during low-load operation, but open for maximum performance during high-load operation. It is not identical to the Z06 system since the exhaust pipes measure 2.5 inches versus the Z06's 3-inch exhaust pipes. With it in place, power output is increased by 6 horsepower, and 4 pound-feet of torque giving the C6 a more aggressive exhaust sound character that definitely appeals to all performance enthusiast. I kept the audio system off for most of my time behind the wheel because I had to listen to the sweet roaring sounds coming from the rear.

It's such a pleasure feeling the instant response to your inputs as you rocket out and feel your pulse suddenly quicken. A large part of that pleasure and fun is when you're shifting up and down the gears. The shifting efforts for both the six-speed manual and paddle-shift six-speed automatic transmissions have been improved this year, and I really enjoyed shifting last year's C6. The manual's shifting improvements include a more positive and direct feel during gear changes, with better gate-to-gate location. The beautiful stick shifter is perfectly placed for easy use; the refined shifter feels like your cutting through butter with a hot knife. It is amazing. You feel the pull and entrance into the gear like it is waiting for you, with no real effort. It's so precise with an automatic type of feel. You have to try it yourself. The six-speed paddle-shift automatic is improved with new hardware and a new controller calibration that delivers quicker shifts. This change bolsters the feeling of performance and driver control when using the shifter paddles. I'll take the manual for even faster shift changes and faster acceleration. Also new this year is the availability of the 2.73 performance axle ratio with limited-slip that comes standard with the Z51 package. The world-class chassis structure and newly refined double-wishbone suspension combine to make the new C6 Corvette one of the world's best handling and one of the most comfortable two-seat sports cars to drive. All Corvettes have a hydro-formed steel rail structure which features cored composite floors, an enclosed center tunnel, rear-mounted transmission and aluminum cockpit structure. The front and rear double-wishbone suspension, suspension cradles, control arms, knuckles, springs, dampers, bushings, stabilizer bar and steering gear have all been redesigned to increase the ease of high-performance driving and enhancing the comfort when traveling over poorly paved roads. New Goodyear Extended Mobility Tires take advantage of the latest sidewall design and compound technology for run-flat capabilities.

Three suspension choices allow consumers to choose the setup that best suits their driving style. The standard suspension is tuned for a balance of ride comfort and precise handling. Corvette is now more poised at even higher levels, yet easier to drive and enjoy the experience. The optional Magnetic Selective Ride Control suspension features magneto-rheological dampers able to detect road surfaces and adjust the damping rates to those surfaces almost instantly for optimal ride control. The Z51 Performance Package brings Corvette performance very close to the widely admired previous generation Z06. The Z51 offers more aggressive damper and spring rates, larger stabilizer bars, Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar EMT tires, 245/430ZR18in. front/285/35ZR19 rear, wrapping 18X8.5in. front/19X19 rear forged aluminum wheels. You also get enhanced cooling and larger cross-drilled brake rotors, 13.4-inch vented rotors up front, and 13-inch vented rotors in the rear. With each suspension, three standard dynamic chassis control systems-ABS, Traction Control and Active Handling-operate in concert. In all, the dynamic chassis control systems are smarter, less intrusive and more adept at making the total driving experience precisely what drivers have come to expect from their Corvette. Have it your way! Guiding you on your chosen path is Corvette's precise rack & pinion steering system that is revised this year to provide improved feel at all speeds. The revisions are due to a new, premium machining process of the system's internal components, a new, stiffer intermediate shaft and controller calibration changes. Just a slight turn of the wheel moves the front left or right enabling you to cut through the most challenging curving roads at high speeds. The car drives like it is planted on rails, and the feel of the road surface is now better than ever. On the skid pan the C6 with the Z51 package is rated at 0.98 g's.

Corvette's long, sleek and sexy looks start with the low front end, then offer dramatic fender forms, steeply raked windshield pillars, and exposed headlamps that combine with the grille to create a strong visual identity for the Corvette, while the tapered rear deck and fascia improve high-speed performance. The lean rear design sports four round tail-lamps and four round polished stainless steel exhaust tips exiting out the center. Aerodynamic side mirrors and shaved door handles help give the new C6 a very low 0.286 coefficient of drag, the most aerodynamic Corvette ever. All body panels are made from lightweight, yet very strong composite materials. If you order the removable hardtop, you are getting the ability of four-season driving pleasure. Just three clamps firmly hold the top down and this lightweight panel can be removed by yourself, and stored in the large rear cargo area by placing it on two stops with the third at the rear to click it down so nothing moves when driving. To replace, simply snap out to the lightweight top and easily replace it back on top. It takes about 30 seconds to do. Matching the world-class styling, power and performance is one of the most comfortable, ergonomic, and safe cabin's of any other super sports car. Both doors open wide for easy entry and exit, the high-back sport bucket seats are deeply cut to keep you in place during spirited driving times, and visibility is outstanding all around you. New this year is a dark carbon-fiber styled bias trim on the center stack and center console, with bright surrounds for the shifter and cupholder. There are new metal-finish door sill plates as well as a new lighted control knob for the optional Magnetic Selective Ride Control. The Corvette signature instrument cluster is one of the easiest to see and understand and features the optional 'head's-up' display that is still exclusive of all world-class sports cars. I love the ability to monitor my speed, rpm, fuel, oil pressure, engine coolant temperature and the g's it is pulling in the curves, without having to take my eyes off the road. Of course, if you don't want to use it you can easily dim the display by touching a toggle button. The stick shifter is perfectly placed and very easy to use. All buttons, dials and levers are within easy reach and fully illuminated for safe nighttime driving. New and optional this year is a custom leather-wrapped interior package that offers stylish, two-tone leather-appointed cabin with details that enhance the feeling of Corvette's craftsmanship. It includes two-tone leather-wrapped upper and lower instrument panel, door pads and seats, a choice of new, exclusive colors-Linen or Sienna, with unique color breakup, padded door panel armrests, Corvette embroidered on passenger-side dash pad, embroidered cross flags logo on headrest and unique center trim plate with carbon-fiber bias pattern.

Corvette's unique interior is inspired by the car's dual-cockpit heritage. High-quality materials, craftsmanship and functionality help deliver premium quality meant to enhance performance driving. The instrument panel and doors are covered with cast-skin foam-in-place trim that looks like a leather-wrapped, padded panel. An AM-FM-XM radio with CD player and audio input jack is standard. An optional Bose audio system with an in-dash six-disc changer adds to the choices available to the audiophile owner. Steering-wheel mounted audio controls are standard with the Bose premium system. A full-function ONSTAR system is standard and an onboard navigation system with voice recognition is optional. Standard equipment not mentioned above includes keyless entry with push button start/stop, Driver Information Center and Driver Personalization, tire pressure and oil life monitoring system, theft deterrent system, power heated outside mirrors with driver-side self-dimming, fog lamps, daytime running lamps, auto dual-zone electronic climate control, thick-cut pile carpeting with floor mats, auto dimming rearview mirror with compass, cruise-control, intermittent wipers/washer, leather bucket seats with 6-way driver-side and 4-way passenger-side with lumbar adjustments, leather-wrapped/tilt steering wheel, power windows/door-locks, electric rear window defroster, remote fuel filler door/rear hatch with power hatch pull down. Options not mentioned above include luggage shade and cargo net, memory package, removable roof panel, heated seats, and power telescoping steering column. Standard safety features include front and rear crush zones, steel beams in each door, front and side airbags, and 3-point seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters. With ONSTAR standard and aboard, in the event of an accident, the Corvette automatically notifies ONSTAR to summon aid. When you own a Corvette you are getting the best of both worlds. World class power and performance, a very reasonable price starting at just $$45,170.00, extra-large cargo area, and a fantastic fuel mileage rating similar to a DOHC V6 engine-16mpg/city and 26mpg highway. The 2008 Chevy C6 Corvette remains one of the best super-high-performing sports cars on the market. You have to test drive one to believe the bargain and enjoy the ease and fun to drive characteristics.

© Words and pictures by Harvey Schwartz SUMMARY JUDGMENT The best just keeps getting better. For more information about Chevrolet products, go to chevrolet.com. More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at www.autofotos.com SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2008 Chevy C6 Corvette Z51 Coupe Price: $45,170.00 base, $56,185.00 as tested Engine type: 6.2 liter LS3 overhead valve, 2-valves per cylinder, cast aluminum block/heads Horsepower: 436hp at 5,900 rpm with dual-mode exhaust/430 hp with standard exhaust Torque: 428 lb-ft at 4,600 rpm with dual-mode exhaust/424 with standard exhaust EPA Mileage specs: 16mpg/city, 26mpg/highway Drive configuration: Front engine/rear-wheel-drive Transmission type: 6-speed manual with limited slip differential Front suspension: Short/long arm double wishbone, cast aluminum upper & lower control arms, transverse-mounted composite leaf springs, monotube shock absorbers' all performance-tuned for Z51 package including larger, cross-drilled vented brake discs. Rear suspension: Short/long arm double wishbone, cast aluminum upper & lower control arms, transverse composite leaf springs, monotube shock absorbers. Wheels/tires: 18X8.5 front/19X10 alloy wheels, Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 245/40ZR18 front, 185/35ZR19 rear tires Brakes: Front: 13.4-in. power-assisted, cross-drilled, vented Rear: 13.1-in. cross-drilled rear vented brakes Overall length: 174.6 in. Overall width: 72.6 in. Overall height: 49 in. Curb weight: 3,217 lbs

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