Test Drives

2005 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe

Steve Kichen


General Motors' GMC division sells a lot more trucks than Chevrolet sells Corvettes. Otherwise, the new GMC slogan, "It's not more than you need. It's just more than you're used to," is a perfect sales pitch for the new, sixth generation (C6) Corvette. Then again, Chevrolet doesn't need a lot of fancy ad copy to sell the new Corvette. Two words--"186 mph"--say it all.

Few owners of the new C6 will ever run their cars at three times the legal speed limit any more than most Jeep owners will take their Grand Cherokees across the Rubicon Trail. Yet, there's a certain satisfaction in having those capabilities in reserve. In real-world driving, the new Corvette excels. Our tester was free of groans, creaks and rattles. The latest generation 'Vette weighs in 67 pounds lighter than its predecessor at 3,179 pounds, but it doesn't feel the least bit dainty.

The new Corvette is also 5 inches shorter and three-fifths of an inch narrower than the 2004 model. The new car has a 0.28 drag coefficient, making it the most aerodynamic 'Vette ever. General Motors (nyse: GM - news - people ) is hoping the slightly trimmer Chevy flagship will be better received in markets such as Europe.

Another big change is that the new C6 packs a lot more wallop under the hood than the old "entry level" C5. The 6-liter, small block V8--currently the only motor available with the C6--pumps out 400 horsepower and 400 pounds-feet of maximum torque. That's an increase of 50 horses over the 2004 model. Yes, in 2004 Corvette also offered the super-duper Z06 with 405 horsepower, but that car came at a $7,850 premium over the base offering.

The new 400-hp LS2 6.0L V8 engine features one of the largest aluminum block powerplants is Corvette history.

The starting price for the 2005 Corvette is $44,245, including an $800 destination charge. Standard features include traction control, a removable roof panel, xenon headlamps and leather seats. Real world stickers, after options, are likely to be $5,000 to $10,000 higher. Our tester weighed in at $52,840, as delivered.

Except for the $750 extra for the Millennium Yellow paint job--a taxicab hue that won't appeal to every driver--the tester was worth every penny. Key options on this Corvette included a $4,360 Preferred Equipment Group (additional air bags, heads-up display and six-way power passenger seat); $1,295 polished aluminum wheels and GM's OnStar emergency communications system for $695. The sticker can be pushed even higher with XM satellite radio, a navigation system or a transparent removable roof panel.

The big blisters on the front fenders and the sharply sloped rear window cut down on visibility. But, judging by the number of passersby and other motorists transfixed by this car during our short test, we think the Corvette's redo is a success. The Corvette will never be the most practical car to own, but its shortcomings are shared with other low-slung, high-performance automobiles.

Also available: the Corvette convertible, which starts $7,700 higher than the coupe. And for drivers for whom 400 horsepower just isn't enough, a C6 Corvette Z06 should be available about a year from now. Chevrolet wouldn't comment on its horsepower, but something in the range of 50 to 100 additional ponies over the standard C6 is a pretty safe bet.