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It's been 14 years since the last all-new Corvette came along, and with that much time you'd expect the new one to be an improvement on its predecessor. But even so, we think you'll be surprised at the magnitude of those improvements.
The previous Corvette was fast and agile. The new one is faster, and it has the reflexes and poise of a world-class athlete. And that's just the sports car side of the equation. Chevy's work on the comfort side of the ledger is even more impressive. The new car is far easier to get in and out of, with more room inside. Improvements in structural integrity and assembly have eliminated the stress squeaks that have plagued Corvettes ever since 1953, and ride quality has improved by a factor of four. Driving a Corvette is no longer a mixture of pleasure and pain.
Although this new Vette arrives four years behind schedule, it's clear that the development team put the extra time to excellent use. For the first time, the Corvette can claim a place among the elite of the world's best sports cars.
You expect eyeball-flattening performance from a Corvette and that's what you get. It takes less than 12 seconds to reach 100 mph, and top speed is just north of 170 mph, almost as fast as the old ZR1.
The handling that goes with all this speed is pure joy--decisive, balanced, cat-quick and laser-precise. The prime purpose of a sports car is to make the vehicle an unerring extension of the driver's will, and that's what the new Corvette delivers, with amazing brakes thrown in for good measure.
In short, wow.
As good as the dynamics are, though--and they are very, very good indeed--we think the new Corvette's strongest suits are comfort, all-around driveability and quality. We think that largely because these elements were marginal in previous Corvettes. Harsh ride quality has been replaced by an up-to-the-minute blend of firm control and supple response to small bumps and ripples in the pavement. Thanks to much higher construction quality, squeaks and rattles have been banished, and the sweeping improvements in the details make the new Corvette far more useful as an everyday car, as well as an adrenaline generator.
With a base price of $38,000-plus, the Corvette is clearly not just a toy. On the other hand, Its performance capabilities are substantially higher than other cars in the same price range--the BMW Z3 2.8, Porsche Boxster, Mercedes SLK and Toyota Supra Turbo, to name just a few. And they're on a par with sports cars costing far more, such as the Porsche 911.
Add comfort, plenty of standard features and vastly improved quality and you have a true world-class sports car, something we couldn't really say about previous Corvettes.