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2005 Chevrolet Corvette: First Look

2005 Chevrolet C6 Corvette
2005 Chevrolet C6 Corvette

2005 Chevrolet C6 Corvette
The new look is sleek, aerodynamically sound
and more progressive than the C5 Corvette

2005 Chevrolet C6 Corvette
Quad exhuasts pipes, 18-inch
front and 19-inch rear wheels

2005 Chevrolet C6 Corvette
325mm disc brakes up front, 305mm discs rear

2005 Chevrolet C6 Corvette
Minimal ground clearance helps
explain 0.29 drag co-efficient

2005 Chevrolet C6 Corvette
6.0-litre Gen IV LS2 V8 makes 534Nm of torque

2005 Chevrolet C6 Corvette
The interior is typically American

It's not everyday that Chevrolet rolls out a new Corvette, which is one of America's most revered and respected home-grown sportscars.

And when such a venerated car contains the General's new Gen IV engine under the bonnet, which will eventually make it's way into SS Commodores and HSV Clubsports, V8 enthusiasts everywhere take notice.

The excitement was palpable when the GM subsidiary rolled out its 2005-model Corvette, the C6, at the recent Detroit Motor Show.

Not only has the car's appearance changed - yet still retaining trademark styling cues - but performance has been given a boost, as Dave Hill, chief engineer of the new Corvette, explained.

"Our goal is to create a Corvette that does more things well than any performance car. We've thoroughly improved performance and developed new features and capabilities in many areas, while at the same time systematically searching out and destroying every imperfection we could find."

The PR spin meisters will have you believe the new Corvette is now a challenger to Italian and German supercars, and while this may be an exaggerated claim, the new vehicle is certainly a step closer to Europe's best and brightest.

The sixth generation C6 Corvette is much sleeker than its C5 predecessor and is shorter overall by almost 13cm, giving the new model a tauter, more defined and assertive appearance.

As Chevrolet people are quick to point out, the 2005 Corvette's overall dimensions are now similar to those of the Porsche 911.

Together with this more focussed demeanour, an aggressive stance and contemporary styling cues, such as the multi-lens headlights, it lends one of GM's heavy hitters a more exotic flavour.

Sitting on 18-inch alloys up front, shod with 245/40ZR rubber, and bigger 19-inch rims aft, wearing 285/35ZR rubber, the new 'Vette should afford even more grip than before - and those simple five-spoke mags look brilliant.

Shorter front and rear overhangs give the 2005 Corvette a more striking profile, and combined with sleek new sheet metal, the American sportscar slices through the air with an impressive 0.28 co-efficient of drag.

Aerodynamically speaking, it's the most efficient Corvette ever built, and the new aero aids also improve negative lift and high speed stability.

With countless enhancements, ranging from major changes to minor adjustments, the sixth generation Corvette aims to be just at home on the racetrack as it is on the road.

"The Corvette is more competition-influenced – given our championship experience with Corvette Racing – than any previous Corvette," continued Dave Hill.

"Our goal was a performance car at home in virtually any environment. That means more than just raw performance. It calls for improved ride comfort, a precisely-built and technically-sophisticated interior, and a sleek new body that is fresh and contemporary, while still instantly recognised as the new Corvette."

Breathing life into the C6 will be GM's LS2-designated mill, essentially a 6.0-litre small-block V8 based on the new Gen IV family of engines.

The small-block debuted in 1955 with 265 cubic inches and 'just' 145kW (195bhp). Since then, this legendary family of engines has been an integral component of the Corvette's performance history.

"It’s almost impossible to talk about Corvette without the small-block," said Dave Muscaro, GM Powertrain's assistant chief engineer of small-blocks for cars.

"As Corvette has grown into a world-class sports car, the small-block has grown with it. The LS2 is a state-of-the-art engine that draws on a rich heritage of performance."

The vitals are impressive: 534Nm @ 4400rpm and 298kW @ 6000rpm. The rev limiter is set at 6500rpm, though sadly there's no talk of overhead camshafts. The 364 cubic inch powerplant still makes use of 2-valves per cylinder and pushrods.

"More than dynamometer numbers, the LS2 engine's range of power and torque is broad and very usable in everyday driving," explained Muscaro.

"This engine is smoother, and more refined, but at the same time retains tire-thrashing output."

When compared to the outgoing Gen III-based LS1 mill, the LS2 is some seven kilograms lighter and has increased camshaft lift in order to take advantage of an increase in cylinder head flow.

Of interest to many Gen III owners, the LS2 gets a redesigned 'wingless' oil pan (with cast baffling) that provides superior oil control under high-performance and high-G driving manoeuvres.

All told, the LS2 engine has been designed to afford improved performance, reliability, refinement and serviceability over the LS1.

"We sweated the details to ensure the engine maintains a balance between performance and efficiency," Muscaro said. In addition to the engine upgrades, advances in catalyst substrates made possible catalytic converters that are at the same time more effective and less restrictive for the LS2's exhaust system.

The new converters are mounted closer to the exhaust manifold for quicker lightoff and reduced cold-start emissions. As a result, the more restrictive quad catalyst design of the LS1 – with its small, auxiliary “pup” converters – was not necessary to meet emissions requirements.

Subtle adjustments were made to the C6 Corvette's exhaust system itself to improve performance.

Sharp angles in the tubing have been replaced with more gradual bends and a larger muffler volume and tri-flow technology eliminated certain periods prone to unwanted noise, particularly between 1500 and 2400rpm.

Transferring 534Nm of torque to the rear wheels is the tried and tested Tremec T56 six-speed manual gearbox, offered in two styles - standard, and a sports version with more aggressive ratios, reserved for Corvette's Z51 Performance Package, fundamentally the C5's Z06 successor.

Also, the transmission is now located at the rear of the driveline for improved weight distribution. As for clutchless options, the old 4-speed 4L60-E auto slusher has been upgraded to the 4L65-E, which gets reinforced internals in order to cope with the increased torque loads.

No performance times were supplied for quarter mile and 0-100km/h times, but with a kerb weight of 1470kg and the increased levels of torque, and that impressive drag co-efficient

The 2005 C6 Corvette is expected to outpace its precursor in lap times not only thanks to increased torque generation, but also due to lessons learned from its racecar's (C5-R) successes on the track.

Completely new suspension components combine with a more rigid chassis - whose low weight and high strength comes about via a hydroformed steel frame with aluminium and magnesium components - for improved ride and handling, especially at the limit. Run-flat tyres also make the cut.

Chevrolet hasn't skimped on deceleration performance either, and the C6 is endowed with a quartet of very large anchors.

The two-seater Corvette is factory fitted with 325mm discs up front and 305mm items at the rear, while the Z51 package adds 15mm and 25mm to the front and rear discs respectively.

On a techno-cool level, the new Corvette contains some intriguing features, such as keyless access, where the car detects the key in a certain range and unlocks the doors. There's also a push-button start like in the Ford Performance Vehicles GT, and optional features include a reconfigurable heads-up display, a la BMW's 5-Series, plus a DVD-navigation system with voice activation and Satellite Radio.

Chevrolet has tinkered and tooled around with the new Corvette and after seven years of the C5, which arrived in 1997, the C6 has come to take the reins. Visually, it's hit the nail right on the head. Most in the Web Wombat office agree that it's one of the most alluring cars to emerge from the US in quite some time.

And on top of it's more desirable look, there's the 6.0-litre Gen IV engine, an advanced chassis composition and who could forget those massive 19-inch rear hoops? It's not going to scare Ferrari, but the sixth generation C6 'Vette is without a doubt a more focussed sportscar than the C5.

The new C6 Corvette is due to go into production during the 3rd quarter of 2004, and sales are expected to commence in the US in early 2005. A convertible C6 will also enter production in late 2004.

When stripped, the C6's smaller proportions become more apparent
The new headlight design veers away from the 'flip-up' design that characterised many Corvettes

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