May 22, 2013
Written by Steven Macoy
Thursday, 08 April 2010 10:51
Chevrolet’s iconic Corvette lately has found itself under pressure from the resurgent muscle-car sector, especially Chevrolet’s own Camaro. During 2009, Chevrolet sold 61,648 Camaros while Corvette sales plummeted 48.3 percent, according to autoguide.com. And shopper surveys indicated a significant number chose the Camaro over the Corvette.In the real world, the Camaro, Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger (to say nothing of the many fast, nimble coupes and sedans offered by European and Asian automakers) serve as attractive compromises for sports-car enthusiasts. They seat four rather than two, and are easier to access and egress than the low-slung Corvette. And they are available with powerful V-8 engines, manual transmissions and sport suspensions to satisfy the need for speed.
Our 2010 Corvette, a Jetstream Blue GS coupe with removable top, was the most powerful car we’ve ever driven. Its 436-horsepower engine places it around the middle of the current Corvette line, however, with optional engines including 505- and 638-horsepower V-8s. Our Corvette’s engine was harnessed to a 6-speed manual transmission.
The speedometer reaches 210 mph, and we’re told this car can come within 20 mph of the peg. We took a 200-mile trip to upstate New York via the New York Thruway and managed not to break 85. Fuel economy was in the low to mid-20s.
The ride is firm but tolerable on the highway, and the noise level is likewise within acceptable limits. And what a delicious noise! From the first burble and throughout the load range, this engine sends up a thoroughly satisfying rumble, never so intense as to be annoying, but always reassuringly present.
As a touring car, the Corvette had a few limitations. With the top in place, climbing in and out is awkward for big or tall adults, and the interior is lacking in trays for small items. The top has three release points and snaps down in the trunk, taking up most of the space. There’s not much room around it, and stacking luggage or coolers on top of it would be a very bad idea. One person can remove, stow and replace the top, but it’s best managed as a two-man job.
Among the Corvette’s few competitors, only the German and Italian exotics, such as Porsche’s higher-end 911 models, the Mercedes-Benz SL AMG and Aston Martin Vantage, match or beat it for raw power and racing capability. And their price of admission is in the six figures. The base price of our GS was $54,770; options, including various interior and audio upgrades, chrome aluminum wheels and performance exhaust system, brought the price to $70,705. The base coupe still starts under $49,000.
The Corvette isn’t for everyone, and the new breed of muscle car is making its presence known in the ’Vette’s market segment, but the Consumer Reports magazine owner surveys are telling. The Corvette’s reliability is worse than average; owner cost, much higher than average; and owner satisfaction, much better than average.
Engine: 6.2-liter V-8, 436 horsepower, 428 lb.-ft. torque (with optional exhaust)
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Weight: 3,311 lb.
Suspension: four-wheel independent, double wishbone front and rear
Wheels: 18x9.5 inch front, 19x12 inch rear, chrome aluminum (optional)
Tires: P275/35R18 Z front, P325/30R19 Z rear, run-flat
Seating capacity: 2
Luggage capacity: 22.4 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 18 gallons
Fuel economy: 16 mpg city, 26 mpg highway
Fuel type: regular or premium
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