From £62,996
Full of charisma but too lacking, dynamically and elsewhere, to justify its £70k-plus price

Our Verdict

Chevrolet Corvette C6
The sixth-generation Corvette is powered by GM’s LS3 6.2-litre V8

This smaller, lighter, faster Chevrolet Corvette continues to fly the flag for the old-fashioned, all-American sports car

  • First Drive

    Corvette Grand Sport Convertible

    Full of charisma but too lacking, dynamically and elsewhere, to justify its £70k-plus price
  • First Drive

    Corvette ZR1

    Fastest Corvette is dominated by its engine and phenomenal pace

What is it?

Four years ago, when the value of sterling was something to savour, imported sports cars like the Corvette made sense. In 2008, just before the financial crisis, you could buy a C6 for less than £50,000. And getting more than 400 ‘small block Chevy’ horses, with 5.0sec 0-60mph potential, for that kind of outlay made it possible to overlook handling and ride responses that you might charitably describe as “characterful”.

Today, however, a Corvette C6 coupé will cost you £63,000 and a convertible more than £70k. At that kind of cash, the Corvette’s value proposition is considerably weaker. Because that kind of cash ought to buy a sports car with a totally uncompromised driving experience – which it does in the case of the Jaguar XK and Porsche 911.

Update: Chevrolet reveals the new track-focused Corvette Grand Sport at the Geneva Motorshow

Enter the Corvette Grand Sport, a car that adds extra visual purpose, and some of the chassis tweaks from the more dynamically impressive Z06, into the regular C6’s mix, for a fairly modest premium.

What’s it like?

The Corvette Grand Sport’s flared wheel arches cover wider-than-standard suspension tracks (30mm more up front and 38mm at the rear). Like the standard C6, the suspension consists of double wishbones front and rear, with composite transverse springs rather than conventional coils. But there’s a lower ride height here, as well as larger, wider wheels, stiffer spring rates, stiffer anti-roll bars and uprated magnetorheological adaptive dampers. The enlarged air ducts on the car’s bodysides are functional, says Chevrolet, cooling larger discs front and rear.

There are very few cars that seem anything like a Corvette on the road. Sitting so far back within the wheelbase, with a pulsating V8 way out in front of you, creates an endearing, almost unique impression when you’re just punting around in everyday traffic. It’s a bit like driving to work in a cut-price Mercedes SLS.

But the Grand Sport’s driving position and interior fittings don’t do justice to that comparison. You sit too high in the cabin, and in front of you are bargain-basement, monotone plastics, a laughably outmoded sat-nav sytem and a trip computer that seems equally antique.

Despite the revised suspension, the Corvette’s engine provides its most vivid thrills. Torquey and responsive from low revs, it bares its teeth and beats its chest in dramatic style beyond 3500rpm, making the Corvette feel even quicker than it really is. The convertible contributes to the fun factor here, allowing your ears direct access to the V8 bellow bouncing off the hedgerows.

But in outright terms, this isn’t among the fastest £70k sports cars on the road; neither is it even close to being the most composed or controlled. Slow-steering, imprecise and inert around the straight-ahead, the Corvette isn’t a confidence-inspiring car. The suspension controls the car’s mass reasonably when you hit Sport mode on those selective dampers. Grip levels are adequate and chassis balance respectable.

But the Grand Sport’s secondary ride deteriorates from bad to worse in Sport mode. The noisy, wooden-feeling chassis sends tremors through the steel backbone chassis and into the cabin all too often. On a choppy road, your faith in this car is totally undermined and any sporting enjoyment that might have been taken is greatly reduced.

Should I buy one?

After the impressive ZR1, there may have been high hopes for this car. However, the Corvette Grand Sport just provides the critics with even more evidence for the fundamental dynamic inferiority of America’s enigmatic but flawed sporting icon.

Corvette Grand Sport Convertible

Price: £75,678; Top speed: 186mph; 0-62mph: 4.7sec; Economy: 22.4mpg (combined); CO2: 293g/km; Kerb weight: 1519kg; Engine: V8, 6162cc, petrol; Power: 431bhp at 5900rpm; Torque: 428lb ft at 4600rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd automatic

Join the debate

Comments
10

3 January 2012

What happened to the Corvette I used to know? The one that gave you bags of power for £40k.

3 January 2012

[quote Autocar]Because that kind of cash ought to buy a sports car with a totally uncompromised driving experience – which it does in the case of the Jaguar XK.... [/quote]
That's the Jag XK that barely fits down most country lanes, comes with only an auto box and has a traction control system so poorly implemented that it is practically impossible to switch off..??

And is the Corvette really as bad as the review makes out? My understanding was that it has developed into quite a decent performer.

3 January 2012

Magic! Not bothered by the price; all irrelevant because if it were one-tenth the list price I still couldn't afford it.

  • If you want to know about a car, read a forum dedicated to it; that's a real 'long term test' . No manufacturer's warranty, no fleet managers servicing deals, no journalist's name to oil the wheels...

4 January 2012

It's a shame the "narrow body" C6 is no longer available in Europe. The Grand Sport is more expensive, heavier, wider, slower, and inevitably worse dynamically due to the unnecessarily wide wheels and tyres. It'd be interesting to do a side-by-side comparison, and I'd gladly offer my 2008 (narrow!) C6 convertible...which is now on Pirelli run-flats rather than the grim standard Goodyears, which further improves the ride and refinement.

Hopefully the upcoming C7 Corvette will bring a return to form...

5 January 2012

$70k seems rather expensive for a Corvette, especially when you compare the European offering you can have for 70K thats almost BMW M5 money! for a Corvette! The interior looks much improved though, i do like Corvettes as they are different and pretty much shout "look at me" as they drive down the street, but i dont think the price is justifiable, but im sure its more a less exchange rates and the financial crisis that has caused the price hike

5 January 2012

I thought the review was a little on the harsh side, to be honest, and I had to laugh when the Corvette was described as 'not among the fastest £70k cars'. Surely, 186 mph is fast enough, isn't it?

I'd agree that the interior probably isn't up to much - it seldom is in American cars - but the thundering V8 would more than make up for it and the car is refreshing to read about after the usual weekly diet of Porsche 911s and BMW 320Ds we get in Autocar.

While we're at it with American cars, could we have a little look at the Dodge Challenger SRT-8 392, please?

5 January 2012

[quote March1][quote Autocar]Because that kind of cash ought to buy a sports car with a totally uncompromised driving experience – which it does in the case of the Jaguar XK.... [/quote]
That's the Jag XK that barely fits down most country lanes, comes with only an auto box and has a traction control system so poorly implemented that it is practically impossible to switch off..??

And is the Corvette really as bad as the review makes out? My understanding was that it has developed into quite a decent performer.[/quote]

It's a continuation of Autocar's love affair with all things JLR, no surprise there.

I read the full magazine article and while this version of the Corvette does have its flaws (unlike the "perfect" XK) giving it only 2 stars did seem a tad harsh!

7 January 2012

Instead of a GTR not as long as you have got a hole in your ars.

11 January 2012

[quote Overdrive]

And is the Corvette really as bad as the review makes out? My understanding was that it has developed into quite a decent performer.

It's a continuation of Autocar's love affair with all things JLR, no surprise there.

[/quote]

Agreed Overdrive. It's always interesting how the reviews on Corvettes vary in AutoCar. From high praise to a harsh ripping like this. The Germans sure do seem to love them, as all models get good reviews in Auto Motor und Sport.

Don D

11 January 2012

[quote shomann]The Germans sure do seem to love them, as all models get good reviews in Auto Motor und Sport.[/quote]

Yes, the Germans loved the ZR1 a lot, a five star car. And the Nordschleife maniac magazine Sport Auto praised its incredible "Fahrspaß" and got an outstanding 67 / 70in objective tests.

I never drove the ZR1 but I drove the Z06 and it was impressing. To be fair though the convertible I rented for a week this summer in California has been a partial delusion.

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