Review: 2008 Chevrolet Corvette
This 2008 review is representative of model years 2005 to 2013.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The 2008 Chevrolet Corvette's larger base 430-horsepower V8 isn't what the car realistically needs because the 2007 model had more than enough sizzle with 400 horsepower than typical Corvette buyers needed.
The Vette's new V8 has been enlarged from 6 liters to 6.2 liters and also produces more torque than the car's 2007 V8. It can be ordered with a $1,195 "dual-mode" exhaust system that lets horsepower climb to 436. The added power is from an exhaust that bypasses the quieter of two passage through the mufflers.
Unlike the overhead-camshaft engines in most rivals, the Corvette V8 has a pushrod design, although it's an advanced one and is less complicated than an overhead-cam engine.
The Z06 is less comfortable than a regular 'Vette, feeling much like a race-ready street car with a higher-performance suspension that provides a stiffer ride, uprated brakes and unusually large, wide tires for a street machine.
Two Regular Trim Levels
The Z06 originally started out as a lower-cost Corvette that would be within reach of working class folks, which was the case with 1960s and 1970s 'Vettes. But Chevy was selling so many high-profit regular Corvettes when considering a low-cost, entry level version several years ago, it figured it would shoot the works and opt for an even more expensive, higher-horsepower version. Hence, the first Z06.
No lower-cost, entry level 'Vette looks like it's on the horizon. Instead, a more powerful Corvette than the Z06 is reportedly in the works to battle lower-production rivals such as the $83,895 Dodge Viper, which has an 8.4-liter V10 engine with 600-horsepower.
Corvette rivals keep adding power, so Chevy must figure it has to do the same.
The Corvette got a major redesign for 2005, so the only exterior difference between the 2007 and new Corvettes are new wheels. But there are major mechanical differences, which help make the car feel more refined.
Improved Steering And Shifting
The interior has been upgraded and can be given a real uptown look with the (gulp!) $8,005 (hatchback) and $8,600 (convertible) 4LT Preferred Equipment Group. This upscale interior—also offered for the Z06 in the $6,545 3LZ Preferred Equipment Group— has finely stitched 2-tone leather on the dashboard, door panels and seats, along with unique interior trim.
Options Escalate Price
You might figure that a power tilt/telescopic wheel would be standard in a $45,000-plus car. And side air bags (standard on the convertible) shouldn't be in a costly option package. (You can get them for the coupe in a $1,496 option package that also has perforated leather upholstery and a 6-way power passenger seat.)
My test car also had a $1,695 "Z51" Performance Package, with larger cross-drilled brake rotors and a performance-tuned (spell "firmer") suspension, which didn't affect the comfortable ride much.
Then there were the $1,295 polished aluminum wheels, $750 removable transparent roof panel and that power-enhancing dual-mode exhaust. How many Corvette owners really need the special exhaust for that 6 extra horsepower?
Extras Not Really Needed
The standard suspension is fine for fast, safe driving. So are the regular brakes.
The new Corvette provides decent highway fuel economy for such a high-performance car despite its added power—and lower EPA fuel economy ratings for 2008 cars. It's an estimated 16 mpg in the city and 26 on highways with the manual transmission and 15 and 25 with the automatic. The Z06 comes only with a 6-speed manual and delivers 15 mpg in the city and 24 on highways.
Difficult In And Out
Gauges can be read quickly, and the nicely placed controls are easy to use. But the seats can be improved, and small interior push-button door openers are more gimmicky than practical.
High Trunk Liftover
It's too bad we never saw the proposed lower-cost entry Corvette, but the 2008 model is even more of an outstanding performance bargain.