The Tremec six-speed manual features improved shifting characteristics thanks to numerous upgrades, including new synchronizers that reduce travel by 10 percent, and a redesigned shifter lever.
The Tremec is available with two sets of ratios. The more aggressive gear set is reserved for Corvette’s Z51 Performance Package and is tailored with numerically higher gears to improve acceleration. Also, a numerically lower fifth gear gives the Z51 better fuel efficiency and a higher top speed than base models. To increase durability in sustained high-speed situations, the Z51 and the base European manual-transmission models have a transmission cooler.
The Hydra-Matic 4L65-E automatic transmission is an upgraded version of the C5’s 4L60-E, strengthened and revised to accommodate the LS2’s torque. It includes GM’s advanced Performance Algorithm Shifting, which automatically selects the optimal gear for a given driving condition.
To beef up the internals, a five-pinion planetary gear set was added – replacing a four-pinion gear set. The extra gear reduces friction and loads carried by all the gears. For protection from the high temperatures that are generated by high speed, a four-plate oil cooler has been added.
The passion of the exterior’s design is reflected in an all-new interior. Even with the car’s more compact exterior dimensions, the new interior has just as much usable room – including class-leading cargo space that can swallow two golf bags. Greatly improved materials, craftsmanship and functionality help deliver premium quality meant to enhance performance driving.
The theme was inspired by Corvette’s dual-cockpit heritage, with a flowing, wraparound upper feature line. The result lends spaciousness to the passenger and a nestled cluster pod for the driver.
The instrument panel and doors are covered with cast-skin foam-in-place trim that looks like a leather-wrapped, padded panel. It is warm and inviting and has double the life of conventional trim materials. Aluminum trim adds richness.
An AM/FM radio with CD player and MP3 capability is standard. New technology enhances conventional radio reception. An improved optional Bose audio system with an in-dash six-disc changer and XM Satellite Radio (continental U.S. only) add to the choices available to the audiophile owner.
A full-function OnStar system is available, and for the first time, Corvette offers onboard navigation as an option. Using a 6.5-inch (165 mm) color touch-screen display, the DVD-based system contains all the map data for the United States and Canada on one disc.
Overall vehicle weight is significantly reduced, despite mass-increasing features such as larger wheels and tires, more robust brakes and increased body acoustics. It also delivers a quieter, more pleasing ride.
The car retains the hydroformed steel rail backbone structure, which features cored composite floors, an enclosed center tunnel, rear-mounted transmission and aluminum cockpit structure
Suspension cradles, control arms, knuckles, springs, dampers, bushings, stabilizer bars and steering gear have all been redesigned. New Goodyear Extended Mobility Tires (EMT) take advantage of the latest sidewall design and compound technology for run-flat capabilitie
Three suspension choices allow drivers to choose the setup that best suits their driving style. The standard suspension is tuned for a balance of ride comfort and precise handling. Corvette is now more poised at even higher handling levels, yet easier to driv
The optional F55 Magnetic Selective Ride Control suspension features magneto-rheological dampers able to detect road surfaces and adjust the damping rates to those surfaces almost instantly for optimal ride control. The system has been improved to deliver more differentiation between the system’s “Tour” and “Sport” settings.
The Z51 Performance Package brings Coupe performance very close to the widely admired C5 Z06. The Z51 offers more aggressive dampers and springs, larger stabilizer bars, and larger cross-drilled brake rotors (13.4 inches/340 mm in front and 13 inches/330 mm in rear) for optimum track performance while still providing a comfortable ride.
With each suspension, three standard dynamic chassis control systems – anti-lock braking, traction control, and Active Handling – operate in concert. In all, the new dynamic chassis control systems are smarter, less intrusive and more adept at making the total driving experience precisely what drivers have come to expect from their Corvette.
Its body work may be all new, but no one will have any trouble recognizing the C6 as the Chevrolet Corvette. At the same time, they will immediately know it’s the new one.
The exposed headlights usually draw the first comments. For many years Corvettes have used hideaway headlamps to complement their sleek, aerodynamic designs, but advances in optics and lighting technology enable designers to achieve those goals with exposed headlights. From an engineering standpoint, the new headlamps are better than the old hideaways: They are lighter, which means less weight hanging out over the front wheels, a critical area in terms of overhang, polar moments of inertia, and all that stuff; reducing weight in front is always difficult in a front-engine car, so this is an important reduction. They also eliminate a lot of mechanical complexity and allow a higher-quality lighting setup. And they offer better performance; Chevrolet says lighting is improved 85 percent.
More important than the headlamps, however, is the Corvette’s smaller proportions. The C6 is fully 5 inches shorter than the C5 (3 inches shorter in front, 2 inches shorter in the rear), and it’s 1 inch narrower. Its smaller size and lighter weight improve agility. The new Corvette also cuts a tighter, more taut profile. And it does all that without eliminating usable interior space. The more diminutive dimensions give it a more international character, says Chevrolet, allowing it to feel more at home in other parts of the world. Though 5 inches shorter in overall length, the wheelbase has been stretched by more than 1 inch, resulting in shorter overhangs; shorter overhangs improve agility, while the longer wheelbase improves stability. In other words, the wheels have been pushed out toward the corners of the car.
The body work is smoother aerodynamically and generates less lift in front. Translation: better grip, increased stability at high speeds. The sculpted fenders, the sharp creases that sweep dramatically up to the planed rear deck and other aspects of the design call to mind exotic cars, race cars and jet fighters. The narrower rear end is the biggest improvement from a styling standpoint, offering more pleasing proportions.
Viewed from the rear, the four jeweled taillights make the new Corvette look like an F18 taking off in full afterburner mode. The quad tail pipes, black lower diffuser and tiny rear spoiler accented in black, give it the look of an Italian exotic. That tiny spoiler is functional, reducing rear lift at high speeds. Ducts on the trailing edge of the front fenders draw hot air out of the engine compartment. Chevrolet says it spent more than 400 hours in the wind tunnel refining the new design, resulting in numerous subtle and meticulous changes to improve high-speed performance and to route fresh air to the 400-horsepower engine. The windshield wipers are designed to not lift off the windshield until you’re going 150 in the rain. The optics of the reverse lights magnifies the light they throw out, helpful when backing up in this beast.
The interior is all-new for 2005 and much improved over past Corvettes. It no longer looks like an upgraded Camaro inside. There’s a two-tone leather treatment available that doesn’t make me feel like I should be wearing a black leather jacket. Chevrolet indicated that some dramatic changes were needed to meet the expectations of buyers in the new millennium, so the C6 got premium soft surfaces, beautiful grain in the materials, more elegant tailoring. The dashboard is finished in a soft material that feels nice to the touch. The seats are nicely finished. Glare is managed. Real metal accents are used, but they don’t generate glare. The electronics serve the driver without getting in the way.
The seats are comfortable and easier to adjust than in past Corvettes, though there’s still that feeling of sitting deep down in a massive machine. There’s more headroom, though, and the windshield doesn’t seem as close to the driver’s face. The steering wheel looks more like a Suburban wheel than a Ferrari wheel, but it felt good in my hands and afforded a good view of the instruments.
The instruments are big analog gauges that are easy to read at a glance. The Corvette is, thankfully, devoid of a lot of digital readouts. One exception is the head-up display, which projects speed, rpm and even g-forces onto the windshield, a handy and entertaining feature.
There’s no need to take the key out of your pocket to unlock the doors or start the car. Simply walk up to the car and open the door. Sensors detect your key and unlock the door. Climb in and press the starter button.
The Convertible features an optional power-operated soft top, a feature that last appeared on a Corvette in 1962. The power top features a single-button control and completes its cycle in 18 seconds. An easy-to-operate manual top is standard. The five-layer fabric top is available in three colors. It looks good with the top up, but looks terrific with it down, with body-color trim that gives it the racy look of an open-cockpit Le Mans prototype. Naturally, the convertible gives up cargo capacity, offering 10.5 cubic feet of storage with the top up, which isn’t bad for a roadster, and just 5.1 with the top down. The coupe offers 22.4 cubic feet of trunk space.
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