C4 vs C5 - long read
C4 vs C5
Just put 1700 miles on my new to me C5 in the last 30 days. Traded my 95 A4 coupe for a 99 6 speed coupe. I bought the 95 with about 13,000 miles on it back in January of 01, 29,030 when I traded it in. The 99 had 20,000 miles when I bought it on 7-31-04.
Over all the C5 is a better car, but I still miss my C4.
Ride quality Ė The C5 wins hands down. After driving the C4 on any less than perfect road surface my teeth would feel the bumps. I really enjoy driving with the roof panel off, and on the C4 it makes a very noticeable difference in ride dynamics. The C5 ride does not seem to change with the roof panel on or off.
Even though the C5 rides much softer than the C4 it still gets around a corner just as fast. The C5 feels more nimble than the C4 did. After a long trip in the C5 I donít feel as fatigued as I did in the C4. Taking the roof panel off in 15 seconds is real cool compared to using a tool to unbolt the roof of the C4.
Power / performance Ė My C4 ran a best of 13.4 and a consistent 13.5. It topped out at about 162. It may have gone a few MPH faster but I didnít try it again. With the automatic it was a breeze to drive. The C5 feels faster but I need more practice with the 6 speed. If I switch off the ASR and roll out first gear and floor it, than shift to second quickly the rear will break loose and I will have to back off. The mid range and top end feels much stronger in the C5, 4th gear is good to 140, 5th to about 160. When I hit 162 in my C4 I really felt like I got away with something, my adrenaline was pumping. In the C5, my wife doesnít even get ****ed until about 130, itís almost anticlimactic to go really fast.
The brakes are better in the C5, less pedal effort for quicker stops. (I may have used up the brakes in the C4).
6 Speed vs. Auto Ė For me this will be the last stick shift car I buy. Unlike my old GTOs that were strictly weekend warriors, I go on some pretty long trips with the C5 and the 6 speed is just a pain in the balls. It has its moments, and it fun sometimes, but the gap in performance has been narrowed way down between the automatic and manual these days. I have mentioned in previous posts that I beat a few Z-06s while driving my 95 A4. By no means was my car faster, but my auto never missed a shift or hit the wrong gear.
Also, I find 6th gear almost useless. During my drive to Carlisle last weekend, I found the unless I am going between 75 and 80 on reasonable flat road the motor lugs as the revs are around 1500 in 6th. Wheel hop is a major issue with the C5 if you try to pop the clutch; maybe itís just my car though. An aggressive shift into 2nd on less than a flat surface may also cause wheel hop.
The C5 is more complex, just looking over the service manuals (3) to find the fan relay wiring so I can run a fan switch was a chore. Itís a good thing I am a computer literate person with access to a scan tool. When my car tells me it needs to "Establish serial communication with right hand door control module" I know its time to consider that Mid-Years I have been wanting.
The finish on the C5 is more prone to scratches, as if the clear coat is thinner. The fiberglass on the hood, fenders, doors and quarter panels seems thinner on the C5. The clam shell hood on the C4 was thick and tough enough to press down on one side if it didnít latch. Looking at the bodywork on the C5 in the door openings it just looks much thinner.
The stereo sucks in my C5, the rear speakers only produce muddled bass, the C4 stereo was fantastic.
More cargo room in the C5, though not having a spare tire takes getting used to. The tires that came on the C5 were very loud, I replaced them with Firestone Firehawk Sz-50, way better.
I got between 25 and 27 MPG with the C4, the best I got with the C5 was 25. That may be due to my driving. Also I did gain 1 to 2 MPG on the C4 by switching to a 160 thermostat and installing the manual fan switch and keeping the coolant temp under 190.
SO Ė overall is it worth it to go from a late model C4 to a C5? Ė My answer is Ė maybe. My C4 was mechanically as close to perfect as a 9 year old car could have been. It ran strong for its configuration (basically stock LT1, auto trans, 3:07 rear) and I still think the C4 is a better looking car (It looks good from every angle, unlike the C5 with its fat ass.)
Lastly, my wife loves the ride and the seats in the C5, so complaining is almost non existent.
It sounds like your wife is embracing the Zen-time with the C5 even more than you!
Seriously, I can't disagree with the points that you raise- my '91 coupe felt every tar patched crack in the road, too. While I liked the interior feel of the C4 better, I have absolutely no complaints about my Z06.
Warren, great post... THANK YOU. I have been considering a similar change (from my 95 A4 to an 02 Z06) but am just not too enthused about going back to a stick owing to the mostly stop and go driving that I currently do.
Great post,I enjoyed reading your thoughts because of the fact that I am thinking about making the same move.
Great reading & I must agree with you on all points, so far I have put just over 5K miles on my C5 in the first month.
Now will I ever get rid of my C4's never...The C5 does make a great daily driver
Yea, that is a good post Warren. I've been considering a c5 myself but am afraid to lose that raw feeling of a c4. I know the performance and ride-ability will be great, but are they too sophisticated and refined?? That is the question.
Thank you for your review...I'd wonder if the C5 is Too refined? Then what will Corvette enthusiasts think about the C6 Corvette?
BTW...if you don't like the six speed than you should and very easily could have your pick of A4 1999 C5's to trade with ....
I remember I owned a 1999 C5 Automatic that was in mint condition and had I found someone to swap with me back then...I'd have paid at least 3 grand out of pocket plus for any options that were on the other car vs. mine..
There really are quite a few guys who would trade so keep that in mind if you don't like stick shifts and you just bought the car.
Make some posts over various parts of the internet..
Goodluck...and thanks again...
I found your thread very interesting.
Great report Warren - I enjoyed the read.
Interesting that each new generation is "too refined".
I certainly remember that being the buzz when C4's were introduced!
I have not seen anything style wise that excites me like the C4 yet.
Cockpit look and feel especially. Newer ones are too bland inside for my taste.
And C4 rear end is right on.
I wouldn't turn down any vette though.
Interesting. I considered purchasing a C4 around 1987 and passed for the reasons of ride quality, shifting quality of the manual transmission, and the digital dashboard. Jump forward 16 years and the C5 is a dramatically improved car. My personal opinion is that the C6 is not as significant an improvement over the C5 as the C5 was over the C4. Who knows; maybe in 5 years, that may have changed. Right now, I am glad I got the C5.
I think the differance between cars has to be bigger to make the change more worth while.
Going from a stock 1986 to 1990 or so C4, to a C5 would be a really big deal. The power and ride would be much differnt. But going from a later model C4 to a C5 is more of a emotional thing, like "I just want it". The later model C4s really had no performance problems and are great cars. Yes, the ride in a C5 is better, but not to the point of trashing the C4.
Sometimes you just think you want somthing new and improved.
Nice Write up Warren.
I considered going C5, but ultimately decided to mod my 1993 LT1 instead. I am pretty happy with the power, comfort, and feel of the C4.
I don't know why you're getting wheel hop. But I did have trouble with the 1-2 shift on the C5 6spd I tried--kept slipping out of 2 into N.
To me, the best part of my 1993 is the ZF 6spd--love shifting it. No wheel hop, you can always down shift no problem.
Excellent post Warren, just the kind of stuff I'm looking for.
I'm considering moving from a C4 (85 with 4+3) to a C5.
Big difference in cars, for sure, but I do like my 85!!
You have to drive the early C4's, you're not just sitting in it!
What to do ... what to do!!
Keep the C4 and get a C5!
I got a little tickled from your post. Man, I thought you were going to trash the hell out of your '94 C4 but you totally surprized me. I have been churning and churning over the idea of selling BigNanr and getting a C5 but I really feel attached to my first C4. It makes me grin to drive it and I seem to get just as many oohs and ahhs at car shows when I'm parked between two of my vette club bud's beautiful C5's. I've often wondered if the competition yellow helps get the extra stare. It is one well-preserved C4 though.
I've given up on a C5 for awhile. I'm kind of a practical dude, maybe too practical for my own good sometimes, but I just can't see how I would get that much more of a "tickle factor" from a C5 given the cash I would have to offload with my C4 to get into the C5 I would want (maybe an extra 8-10 grand?). Regarding seat-of-the-pants feel, I don't know if it is just me, but my 3.07 rearend and the Lt1 seems to give me more of a kick in the butt at launch than my bud's '99 C5 auto. Maybe the C5 refined suspension "yields" a bit more than the C4, causing the torque to be shoved directly at me rather than being directed through those cushier C5 seats, springs, gromets and such.
Anyway, nice read.
OK, I'm gonna risk some negative vibes here.................I feel ya man.Not wanting to give up my C4, I purchased an "off-brand". A Porsche 928S4...having wanted a ZR-1 a while, it is close.My LT-4 will always be the light in my eyes, but it has some driving faults....rough ride, tiring seats(sport leather notwithstanding),road noise,etc.BUT, it is still as much fun to drive as the day I got it.So now I get to keep the mileage down, yet still get it out when I feel "the need for speed".Don't think I'd ever lose the "clam", or the rear deck gas filler.
"Wrap yer ass in fiberglass"
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