Corvette C6 (2008) review

Published: 27 February 2008

Corvette C6 (2008) review
  • At a glance
  • 3 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
GM sees the Corvette as a genuine Porsche 911 rival, so much so that it claims to have benchmarked this lightly revised version of the sixth-generation car directly against it. The 911. Yes, you read that right.

It also claims that the Corvette is the word's best-selling sports car. Yes, you read that right too. But, then, it's a home player in the American market. The fact that Britain accounts for annual sales in double figures makes a tiny impact on that claim, but it is something that GM is keen to redress.

Is Britain big enough for the Corvette?

Yep, it's a big car, and surprisingly small inside too. But the biggest bit is under the hood, sorry, bonnet. The already gigantic 'smallblock' V8 has been stretched from 5967cc to 6162cc, with a corresponding hike in power from 404bhp to 424bhp.

If you like the idea of a big noise and a big shove in the back when you floor the throttle, the Corvette is your kind of car. Open the taps and you're immediately assailed by V8 thunder, while the horizon suddenly gets noticeably closer. This is a quick car, though it's also colossally high-geared, so the sense of unstoppable momentum really builds as you climb up those tall ratios. And you really need a long stretch of empty road to enjoy it to the full.

Okay, but does the 'Vette handle?

A nifty, squirty 911 it most patently is not. You can hustle the 'Vette, and those with an honours degree in bravery will find it hugely throttle-steerable too, but you need room. Lots of it. During the test we had the Paul Ricard circuit at our disposal in Southern France. With its huge run-off areas and reputation for safety, it's the perfect place to get to know a 'Vette, to learn when to keep your hand in and your foot down – and when not to. You soon learn too, because at these speeds the hefty steering communicates better and makes sense, and the long straights mean you can let yourself loose on that long-travel accelerator. You emerge smiling and exhilarated.

Then you try it out on tight, twisty French country lanes and find the 'Vette's sheer size a touch daunting. It's best on long sweepers, in on a trailing throttle, then powering through and out – and tail-slides are strictly optional.

What about the rest of it?

This couldn't be anything other than an American car. Whatever GM's claims, its interior remains cheesy, the level of fit and finish more Korean than European. A couple of strips of stuck-on leather cannot make a Porsche out of a sow's ear.

It's also notably uncomfortable, thanks to a rock-hard, thumping, grumbling ride that never feels settled at any speed, and seats that fail to cosset no matter what you do with their enormous range of adjustment. Some of the ergonomic efforts are laughable, especially the steering column adjuster that employs an electric switch to power it in and out, plus a lever to swing it up and down. The head-up display works well though, and includes a g-meter for the truly intrepid.

Manual transmission is the best option for anybody who enjoys driving rather than posing, but it's heavy and truck-like, despite recent improvements. The optional auto is clunky, unresponsive and easily confused.

Verdict

There's a lot that's less than perfect about the Corvette, and yet there's also a lot to like about it – and that big, loud V8 goes a long way to overcoming some of its faults.

If it was as cheap in the UK as it is in the States, it would be far more credible. Trying to sell it as a less expensive 911 alternative just doesn't work – this car is for a completely different kind of driver.

Drive one and you'll be glad you've tried it. But if you 'only' have the necessary 46 grand to buy one, carry on saving for that 911, otherwise you'll have satisfied your hunger for a filet mignon by gorging on a Big Mac.

Specs

Price when new: £45,995
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 6162cc 16v V8, 424bhp @ 5900rpm, 424lb ft @ 4600rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 4.1sec 0-60mph, 190mph, 21.2mpg, 316g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1461kg/steel and glassfibre
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4435/1844/1246

Rivals

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Photo Gallery

  • Corvette C6 side
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  • Corvette C6 front three-quarter
  • Corvette C6 interior
  • Corvette C6 rear three-quarter
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  • Corvette C6 side
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  • Corvette C6 front three-quarter
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