2008 Chevy Corvette Coupe

Jean Jennings Sam Smith
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2008 Chevy Corvette Coupe

It's pretty amazing how far the Corvette has come in the past fifty years. The current, sixth-generation 'Vette now gives you 430 horsepower, endless torque, better steering feel, and a better chassis than any Corvette in history, and enough rock-solid durability to drive to Africa and back. It's a pretty far cry from the days of ladder frames and three-speed automatics.

Oddly, though, the performance isn't what has me geeked. The current crop of 'Vettes actually live up to their advertising hype - they can run with, and often embarrass, most world-class sports cars - but more important, they're satisfying and engaging to drive quickly. You could say that about a C5 Z06, perhaps, but certainly not the earlier cars. It's proof that GM realizes that a modern Corvette needs to do more than just perform - it needs to be involving, and it needs to be able to deliver the intangibles.

Things I dig: The dual-mode exhaust that switches into crazy primal scream mode above half throttle about halfway up the tach. The revised-for-2008 steering rack and gearbox; they both offer better feedback and a feel. (The Tremec six-speed is much better than it once was; shifts are no longer truckish and high-effort.) And while the chassis lacks the bombing-back-roads, knife-edged limit composure you find in the current Z06, the Z51 package still pairs a surprising amount of grip and balance with livable comfort.

p.s. Unplugging the vacuum lines from the little pot-shaped things on the exhaust tips sends the rear mufflers into Permanent Loud mode. It also unleashes a fiery hellstorm of bodaciously righteous noise and sets off every car alarm within a hundred miles.

Not that I did it or anything. Just sayin'.

Sam Smith, Associate Editor

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