2008 ’Vette gets improved steering and a new gearbox – and a bit more power, of course
Everything is relative. This year’s refreshment of the Chevrolet Corvette sees the ‘small-block’ V8 grow to a very un-small 6.2 litres, resulting in 430bhp and 424lb ft (up from the old 6-litre car’s 404bhp and 403lb ft). There’s also a new Tremec TR60 gearbox, revisions to the steering rack to reduce friction, and a greatly improved interior with tid ier detailing and the option of full leather cladding of dashboard and doors.
Thus are the main Corvette minuses neutralised, or so GM hopes. The response time of the optional auto gearbox’s manual mode is improved, too, and it’s this version, with its up/down steering-wheel buttons, that I try first.
It’s OK as far as it goes, if nowhere near as rev-matchingly smooth as a Jaguar or Aston auto, but you sense the automatic is stifling the Corvette’s personality. Into a manual, then, and everything changes.
The new gearbox has shorter, lighter movements, and the steering now has ideal weighting and a linear, mechanical feel. It inspires great confidence, the better to exploit the LS3 V8’s tremendous bite and rousing sound effects. Given the 4.1sec 0-60mph time and the 190mph maximum, at £45,995 this must still be one of the best pace-per-pound deals on offer.
And so to the Paul Ricard circuit, where with the traction and stability control one notch away from off, the Corvette is a driftable joy, massively quick, entirely faithful and not remotely intimidating. It’s a very fast car that works naturally and interactively, and despite some grating Americanisms in its instrumentation (‘headlights suggested’ is one such) I love it.
|Max power||430bhp @ 5900rpm|
|Max torque||424lb ft @ 4600rpm|
|Top speed||190mph (claimed)|