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Chevrolet Corvette Gen-6

Chevrolet Corvette Gen-6

By Jack Nerad

Chevrolet Corvette Gen-6 According to Chevrolet, three words characterize the all-new, sixth-generation Chevrolet Corvette - power, passion and precision. Certainly previous editions of the legendary Corvette offered all three, but in this newest version of Chevrolet's 50-year-old icon, its designers and engineers have aimed to give the model serious enhancement in each of these major categories. Thus the new car is gifted with a heavily revised small-block V-8 engine offering a potent combination of 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, more elegantly expressive styling and a closer attention to fit-and-finish details that are designed in.

As Corvette Chief Engineer Dave Hill said, "The C6 represents a comprehensive upgrade to the Corvette. Our goal is to create a Corvette that does more things well than any performance car." And, he could have added, at a price that will allow the model not just to represent a performance figurehead, but also to sell in serious numbers in a very crowded marketplace. Further, Hill mentioned specifically that one of the goals of his Corvette team was "systematically searching out and destroying every imperfection we could find." With this in mind, the C6 Corvette is destined to achieve higher levels of body panel quality, color matching, and fit-and-finish inside and out than previous Corvettes.

Of course, Corvette engineers strived to please Corvette loyalists with the new C6, but, at the same time, they also seek to add new buyers to the fold, buyers who seek excellent performance but at the same time are not willing to endure bone-jarring ride, poorly executed interiors and indifferent quality. These buyers want it all -- near racetrack level performance combined with a high level of refinement. On top of this, they demand a car that looks great and makes a positive statement about their judgment.

The good news is that Corvette engineers and designers have appeared to achieve all these objectives. The new C6 design is unmistakably a Corvette yet also unmistakably different that the C5 and the generations that came before it. While retaining such classic Corvette design cues as four round taillights and side coves, the C6 design presents a fresh face festooned with exposed "projector" headlights faired behind a polycarbonate enclosure. The lights top a low-mounted egg-crate grille, another bow to past Corvettes.

From the very beginning engineers envisioned that new C6 Corvette would take a logical step up in performance, and that meant much more than simply injecting it with more horsepower. Corvette engineers wanted to create a car that is more agile, more "placeable" and "tossable" on the racetrack, while also making it more comfortable in daily driving. That is a tall order, but they accomplished the task, in part, by shrinking some of the car's key dimensions while expanding others.

In the quest for more agility, they designed the new car with an overall length of 174.6 inches and an overall width of 72.6 inches. That is 5.1 inches shorter and 1.1 inches narrower than the C5, but, at the same time they fitted that package on a wheelbase that is 1.1 inches longer for even better straight-line tracking, improved ride quality and to allow the C6 to maintain C5 levels of interior room and class-leading cargo space.

The quest for more agility and better overall handling extended to chassis design. The C6 retains key features of the previous-generation car -- backbone structure, hydroformed steel frame rails, cored composite floors, enclosed center tunnel, rear-mounted transmission and aluminum cockpit structure -- but with suspension components that have been substantially changed. In fact, none of the suspension bits have been carried over from C5. The short-long arm double-wishbone front and rear suspension configuration remains, as does the transverse leaf spring independent design, but the control arms, springs, dampers, bushings, stabilizer bars, and steering gear are completely redesigned. The goal: superior handling with improved ride quality. To that end, the Extended Mobility Tires (EMT) are also new, taking advantage of the latest compound technology for run-flat capabilities, and they play a critical role in the tuning of the suspension for maximum handling and a comfortable ride.

With these enhancements in place, Chevrolet engineers claim improvements in ride and handling that include greater lateral acceleration, more body control, more relaxing ride, less noise transmitted from the road, and better traction and stability in corners. Lest you think the Corvette has "gone soft," however, Corvette engineers say the C6 offers improved ride quality while at the same time achieving race-tuned C5-like numbers on the track.

At the heart of the car is its powerplant, and the new LS2 small-block V-8 promises to be the heart of a lion. Built off General Motors' Gen IV small-block family of engines, the LS2 delivers impressive peak output numbers -- 400 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 400 lb.-ft. of torque at 4400 rpm. That represents an increase of 50 horsepower and 40 lb.-ft. of torque over the previous Corvette's LS1 engine. But there's more to this engine than just a potent power peak. It also delivers its power and torque over a very broad rev range, making it very usable in everyday driving and retaining Corvette's reputation as the supercar that is easiest to drive well.

How have Corvette engineers achieved all this? The laundry list of changes is long, but among the key changes are an all-new aluminum block casting with increased cylinder bore diameter that boosts displacement to 6.0 liters, a compression increase to 10.9:1 accompanied by more sophisticated knock-sensing and higher lift cams that take advantage of better cylinder head flow. Whether mated to a revised, easier-shifted six-speed manual transmission or an up-rated four-speed automatic transmission, the C6 offers thrilling performance throughout the rev band with a level of quiet, sophistication and fuel economy that set new levels for performance cars.

Finally, when it comes to precision, Corvette engineers and designers have gone to new lengths to deliver craftsmanship and functionality that high-line sports car buyers demand. To achieve this they have utilized "cast skin" throughout the interior, using its soft, low-gloss characteristics to give the car a premium appearance. The cast skin has been accented by subtle touches of anodized aluminum in items like the shift knob and the door release buttons.

On the exterior the Xenon high-intensity discharge lamps are accompanied by keyless access that eliminates the need for conventional door handles. In its quest to jettison potential customer "dis-satisfiers" Corvette engineers paid particular attention to important areas like the hood, doors and rear hatch, designing mechanisms that both look and work better in everyday use.

The result of the emphasis on the three "P's" -- power, passion and precision -- is a C6 that will take its place in the Corvette pantheon as the best ever, pleasing both the Corvette faithful and a new legion of buyers who will be drawn by the model's arresting good looks and stellar performance.
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