More Power - More Performance
by Keith Burton - GCN
When Chevrolet set out to redesign America's premiere sports car, the Corvette, they faced a daunting challenge, how to make an excellent car better.
The 2005 Corvette, which will go on sale later this year, is the sixth generation of this favorite high performance car. And right off the bat, Chevrolet has addressed one of the previous car's shortcomings, size. For despite the Corvette's performance, it always felt large for a sports car. The 05 Corvette has a tighter, more taut profile. Five inches shorter and 1-inch narrower without any loss in interior space, the new car is more agile, more aerodynamic, and has better acceleration and braking.
The LS2 raises the bar for standard performance in the Corvette, delivering estimated peak output levels of 400 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque. It is the largest, most powerful standard small-block engine ever offered in Corvette.
Major revisions to the manual and automatic transmissions provide Corvette with significant improvements geared towards performance driving. The Tremec six-speed manual gearbox is available with two sets of ratios, one with more aggressive acceleration characteristics reserved for Corvette’s Z51 Performance Package that emulates the performance of the C5’s landmark Z06 model. Improved shifting characteristics are another major improvement, with new synchronizers that reduce travel by 10 percent, and a shifter knob that is an inch shorter and redesigned for greatly improved driver operation.
The Hydra-Matic 4L65-E automatic transmission is an upgraded version of the C5’s 4L60-E, strengthened and revised to accommodate the LS2’s 400 lb.-ft. of torque. It includes GM’s advanced Performance Algorithm Shifting, which automatically selects the optimal gear for a given driving condition, making it a willing accomplice for performance driving and hard cornering. The transmission now shifts at higher revs to take advantage of the higher engine output.
Not only does the LS2 engine deliver impressive horsepower, but in a true measure of real-world efficiency, it also boasts the best combination of horsepower and fuel economy among the world’s best performance cars at 22.6 mpg combined city/highway mileage estimates.
Corvette contains many new electronic technologies including Keyless Access with push-button start, and optional features such as a reconfigurable head-up display, DVD-navigation system with voice activation, XM Satellite Radio and OnStar.
The key features of the chassis is low weight, high strength with cored composite floors, enclosed center tunnel, rear axle-mounted transmission and aluminum cockpit structure. Overall vehicle weight is about the same as the previous model, despite mass-increasing features such as larger wheels and tires, more robust brakes and increased body acoustics and interior features.
Suspension. None of the suspension bits has been carried over from C5. The short-long arm and transverse leaf spring independent suspension configuration remains, but the cradles, control arms, knuckles, springs, dampers, bushings, stabilizer bars, and steering gear are all redesigned. The Extended Mobility Tires (EMT) also are new, taking advantage of the latest sidewall design and compound technology for run-flat capabilities, and play a critical role in the tuning of the suspension for excellent handling and comfortable ride.
Three suspension choices allow drivers to choose the setup that best suits their driving style – Standard, Magnetic Selective Ride Control, and Z51 Performance Package. The Standard suspension is tuned for a balance of ride comfort and precise handling.
The optional F55 Magnetic Selective Ride Control suspension features magneto-rheological dampers able to detect road surfaces and adjust the damping rates to those surfaces almost instantly for optimal ride and body control. Magnetic Ride Control debuted on the 2003 50th Anniversary Edition Corvette, and is the world’s fastest reacting suspension, replacing mechanical valves with nearly instantaneous reactions of magneto-rheological fluid. The system has been improved for the Corvette, allowing drivers more differentiation in character between the system’s two settings, “Tour” and “Sport.”
The Z51 Performance Package brings Corvette Coupe performance very close to the same level as the widely admired Z06. The Z51 offers more aggressive dampers and springs, larger stabilizer bars, and larger, cross-drilled brake rotors for optimum track performance capability while still providing a well-controlled and comfortable ride.
The removable-roof panel is 15 percent larger, yet offers the same structural stiffness as C5’s while weighing just one pound more. The roof panel comes standard painted body color, or is available with optional tinted clear or with a dual-roof package. With new indexing side-window glass and redesigned seals, Corvette should be much more free from wind noise.
We were initially concerned that some how, Chevy would mess up the Corvette from some of the early photos we saw. But our concerns were unwarranted. The new Corvette is no doubt Chevy's best effort yet. We are looking forward to a full road test.