What is it?
You don’t need that question answering, do you? Because alongside Land Rover, the Mini and the 2CV the Corvette is that rare thing, a car brand that most people have heard of. It’s just that most people outside of the US don’t buy them, despite the fact that they are very cheap and very fast. But they’re not perfect, so this 2008 model year car sets out to sort some of the issues.
The interior gets better plastics, optional hand stitched hand wrapped leather and smarter detailing. The engine’s bigger – up by 196cc – with a more efficient intake system for an extra 30bhp, and the steering’s been tightened up with better anchor points where it joins body and better rubber bits for a more positive feel. And they’ve had a go at making the gearshift less baulky.
Suspension, brakes, the all-fibreglass body and the advanced alloy frame all stay the same. As does the unique transverse spring suspension which, as the car’s engineers were very keen to point out with the air of someone who’s a little frustrated at everyone getting it wrong all of the time, is not a leaf spring. It’s a composite spring, and it’s there because it cuts weight and takes up less space. And they’ve cut the price by £2000.
What it’s like?
The C6 has always punched above its weight when it comes to providing a super car experience for not much cash, and this one makes that even more true. The changes to the steering have added some welcome weight and it feeds back more than it did which makes it easier to place when you’re moving quickly. It’s still not as direct as you might hope for from a car with the Corvette’s performance potential, but it’s much improved.
And that extra power means a cut in the 0-60mph time – down to 4.1sec from 4.X for the manual, which is fast. Not that it ever feels frenetic or rushed – the naturally-aspirated V8 (which is ostensibly the longest-running production engine in the world) relies on displacement for its shove, making the way it delivers its power seem more relaxed than, say, the supercharged V8 of a Jaguar XKR. It makes a great noise, too, although there would be something very wrong if a 6.2-litre V8 didn’t.,/p>
A shame, then, that the gearshift can make using that engine a bit harder than it needs to be. The shorter throw is still a bit long, and quick changes from third to second are not. The cabin is still not up to the standards of a VW Passat let alone any of the cars that rival the Corvette’s performance, but then again they don’t cost £45,000. The build quality is actually very good, and the quality of the optional leather and the way it’s stitched is admirable, but the entry level model’s improved plastics are still a weak point and the switch gear is from another era.
Should I buy one?
There’s nothing to touch the Vette for the money, especially with the price cut. Nothing’s as fast and offers the equivalent power and torque in a comfortable, easy to live with package – it even rides well and the boot’s just about big enough for a small suitcase. If you’re unbothered by the way the cabin looks, don’t mind the occasional blunt moment from the gearshift and can accept fact that this car is never going to be quite as deft as a 911, there’s no real reason why you wouldn’t want one.