Marking the sixth generation of its legacy, the 2005 Chevrolet Corvette delivers more power, passion and precision to reach a new standard of performance car excellence. The 2005 Corvette is more competition-influenced than any previous Corvette. The goal was a performance car that would be at home in virtually any environment. That means raw performance, improved ride comfort, a precisely built and technically sophisticated interior and contemporary new body.
The car features dramatic new styling, the new 6.0L V-8 engine that produces 400 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque (298 kw and 542 Nm), a revised suspension and more powerful brakes. It delivers extreme performance capabilities and offers value, style, quality and comfort.
The 2005 Coupe production begins in the summer of 2004, with the Convertible following in the fall of 2004. European sales begin in October, and other regions by early 2005. All models will be built in Bowling Green, Ky.
The Corvette combines classic cues with an expressive new design. While the styling team used the latest advanced computer-aided design techniques, they relied heavily on traditional hand sculpting. Sculptors pored over every millimeter of the car’s surface. The aerodynamic development combined digital simulations, Corvette Racing experience and more than 400 hours of wind tunnel testing.
The driving force behind the exterior was to keep it fresh, yet distill the passion exemplified by the classic mid-year Corvettes of 1963-1967.
The new Corvette is 5 inches (127 mm) shorter and about 1 inch (25 mm) narrower than its predecessor. Larger wheels (18-inch in front, 19-inch in rear) are topped by dramatic fender forms. Exposed headlamps (not seen on Corvettes since 1962) combine with the grille to create a stronger “face” on the car. The fixed Xenon High-Intensity Discharge lamps provide superior lighting performance.
The Coupe’s removable-roof panel is 15 percent larger, yet offers the same structural stiffness as C5’s while weighing just 1 pound (0.45 kg) more. The tapered rear deck and fascia improve high-speed performance. The lean rear design sports round taillamps and center-exit exhaust.
The ability to keep lines and surfaces smooth was supported by technology. For example, the Keyless Access system replaces traditional mechanical door and hatch handles with solenoids and electronic actuators.
At 0.28 coefficient of drag, the C6 is the most aerodynamic Corvette ever, and has improved anti-lift characteristics that improve high-speed stability.
The Corvette Convertible
The 2005 Corvette features an optional power-operated soft top. An easy-to-operate manual top remains standard. Both configurations use a five-layer fabric that conceals the underlying structure for a good top-up appearance, plus it helps preserve the car’s excellent aerodynamics and reduces road noise.
Every option available on the Coupe can be had on the Convertible, including features new to the Corvette such as OnStar, XM Satellite Radio (continental U.S. only) and DVD navigation system.
OnStar is the leading provider of in-vehicle safety, security and information services in the United States and Canada. Using the GPS satellite network and wireless technology, OnStar features core safety services and OnStar Personal Calling that allows drivers to make and receive hands-free, voice-activated phone calls using a powerful three-watt analog system and external antenna for greater reception.
The 2005 Corvette features the new 6.0L V-8 LS2 engine based on GM’s Gen IV small-block family. The LS2 is the most powerful standard small-block engine ever offered in Corvette, and features:
- All-new 319-T5 aluminum deep-skirt block casting with cast-in-place iron cylinder bore liners and cross-bolted main caps
- Cylinder head design derived from the C5 Z06
- Camshaft lift increased to take advantage of increased head flow
- Revised exhaust manifolds are 34 percent lighter
- Compression raised to 10.9:1
- More powerful engine controller incorporates all electronic throttle control (ETC) functions
With base curb weight starting at 3,179 pounds/1,442 kg (Coupe) and 3,199 pounds/1,451 kg (Convertible) the new Corvette is significantly lighter than its predecessor.
The car is capable of 186 mph (300 km/h), faster than any production Corvette in history. It reaches zero to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.2 seconds, and in 4.1 seconds with the optional Z51 Performance Package, and covers the quarter-mile in 12.6 seconds at 114 mph (183 km/h).
Major revisions to the manual and automatic transmissions provide Corvette with significant improvements geared towards performance driving. The Tremec six-speed manual gearbox is available with two sets of ratios, one with more aggressive acceleration characteristics reserved for Corvette’s Z51 Performance Package that emulates the performance of the C5’s landmark Z06 model. Improved shifting characteristics are another major improvement, with new synchronizers that reduce travel by 10 percent, and a shifter knob that is an inch shorter and redesigned for greatly improved driver operation.
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.
Test drive impressions - Best Corvette Ever?
When the second-generation Chevy Corvette debuted in 1963, there was no mistaking it for its predecessor. One look at the Corvette Sting Ray and you knew it was leaving the past behind in a cloud of smoke. Ditto for the ’68 "Mako" and the fourth-generation model that debuted in ’84. The fifth-generation model (1997-2004) wasn’t a dramatic styling departure, but its substantial leap forward in refinement was enough to define it as a distinct generation.
It however retains trademark Corvette styling cues. With that kind of historical framework in mind, the introduction of the all-new sixth-generation 2005 Chevrolet Corvette (or C6 as it’s otherwise known) was cause for great anticipation.
It is clear that Chevrolet has done an admirable job of endowing the new car with “more power, more passion and more precision,” in the words of Dave Hill, chief engineer. The 400-horsepower V-8 has a huge chunk of its power available just past idle, and consequently it responds like a thoroughbred that jumps from the slightest touch of the whip.
The new styling, with exposed headlamps and a slimmed-down rear end, is the first thing people notice. But what makes the C6 great is its improved handling, performance, refinement and comfort. It’s substantially shorter and lighter than the previous model, the wheelbase is slightly longer, and it gets a new engine, new transmissions, new suspension, new brakes, a new interior and extensive refinements throughout. Chevrolet set out to eliminate every imperfection and complaint in the C5 and says 85 percent of the content in the C6 is new.
Like their racing counterparts, the Corvette road car has become one of the best sports cars in the world, on par in performance with European sports cars from Italy, Germany and England that cost a great deal more. Providing the primary motivation for the C6 is a 6-liter pushrod V8 that pumps out 400hp and 400lb-ft of torque at 4,400rpm. This is mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox, with the option of a 6-speed automatic, though we can’t imagine too many serious drivers checking off that option. Our test car had the optional Z51 performance package, with brakes that measure 13.4 inches in the front and 13 in the rear, compared to the standard car’s 12.8 front and 12 rear discs. The Z51 package also adds larger stabilizer bars, stiffer springs and shocks, and more aggressive gear ratios, and both models have independent double-wishbone suspension front and rear.
The C6 Corvettes numbers on paper translate into impressive performance on road and track, with 0-60mph coming in 4.1 seconds and the quarter mile going by in 12.5 seconds on its way to a top speed of 186mph, making it the fastest production Corvette ever. On the Nürburgring Nordschleife in Germany, the C6 joins the short list of cars that can run the ’Ring in under 8-seconds with a lap of 7:59, putting it ahead of such cars as the Ferrari 550, Lamborghini Diablo SV and the Dodge Viper GTS. This all sounds great, but I was anxious to spend a week in the car to see how good it is in the real world, as well as how it compares to the European sports cars that I am more used to driving.
Dynamically, the 2005 Corvette offers more power in a slightly smaller size. It was hard to judge road behavior on wet roads, but it was easy to discern that the ride is more supple and less harsh. The new chassis is similar to the one used for the Cadillac XLR. which is built in the same plant in Bowling Green, Ky. It has a perimeter frame with an enclosed center tunnel, cored composite floors and an aluminum upper cockpit structure.
From a design standpoint, the new C6 Corvette looks great, with a design that is instantly recognizable as a Corvette, even with its exposed headlamps. It’s a wide car, but looks taut and muscular, and I really like the familiar quad exhausts, as well as the air vents aft of the front fenders. Inside, the C6 has a good driving position and decent ergonomics, but is not without its faults. For one thing, some of the plastics used feel a bit on the cheap side compared to the European competition, and the fit and finish also needs some work. For example, on our test car, the door panel on the driver’s side didn’t line up well with the dash when it was closed (though it did on the passenger side), and some of the switchgear didn’t have the quality feel that it should for a car that costs over $40,000. Being tall, I also found the gear lever was too close to my right leg and tended to bump into it when shifting from first to second. On the plus side, the C6 has a full range of gauges, which are becoming scarce in newer cars. I also like the targa roof, which is light enough to easily remove without help, and stows neatly into its holder in the trunk. It gives you the open-air feel of a convertible without giving up the stiffness of a coupe, which is the best of both worlds.
The C6 Corvette is surprisingly comfortable on the highway, even with the Z51 package, and soaks up bumps pretty well. It’s also an easy car to drive around town, and could easily be driven daily if necessary without too much of a problem. One problem however, especially in hilly areas, is that the front end scrapes quite a bit on crowned driveways or roads, which probably sounds far worse than it really is. Anyway, you tend to forget about the electric doors and any niggling design issues when you get the C6 moving on the road. The 6-liter V8 provides an absolutely thrilling rush of acceleration that puts you firmly back in the seat when you get on the throttle, accompanied by a sound that is pure American muscle car, with an exhaust note that is not unlike the C6 race car when you get above 5,000 rpm. The manual gearbox has very short throws and is accurate for the most part, though it does tend to sometimes go into fourth gear when trying for second, as the gates are a little too close together and not as precise as maybe they should be.
Seat comfort is an issue as well, as the Corvette’s buckets proved mediocre at best during our week with the car. "After two hours behind the wheel I had to get out and walk around to ease my back," one editor wrote. "Take a short trip to slice up a local canyon and the seats feel fine, but any longer than that and their comfort starts to fade quickly," wrote another. Cheap materials are one thing, but average seats are unacceptable when you’re paying this kind of money. Additional complaints were lodged against the Chevy Corvette for its lack of auto up-down windows and manual reclining seat backs.
Ridiculing a sports car for seemingly trivial issues might seem like we’re missing the point, but in this case it is the point. If there was one area in which the Corvette C6 could have made a name for itself, it was in the details. With unassailable performance credentials and an evolutionary shape, there wasn’t much room to work with, but there was room nonetheless. After eight years of waiting, we expected something dramatic, but the 2005 Chevrolet Corvette remains a first-class performer hitched to a second-class cabin. Oh well, there’s always the C7 to look forward to — in 2012.