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click above image to view our first drive of the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette

Torque is good! More torque is better. For anyone who likes to drive, an engine with a stratospheric red-line is fun for a while, but a fat torque curve means acceleration is just a squeeze of the right pedal away. Compared to a Ferrari engine, GM's classic small block V-8 may seem crude and unsophisticated, but the latest variation is anything but. The basic architecture of the 2008 Corvette power-plant dates back to 1955, but aside from some of the basic dimensions, this is a whole new beast.

In the engine bay of the C6 Corvette, the new 6.2L LS3 V-8 now cranks out 430 HP @ 5,900 rpm and 424 lb-ft of twisting force @ 4,600 rpm. That's 25 hp more than the pricey and complex Lotus-designed LT5 in the old ZR-1, and the base price of this car starts at about $45K. At its 2008 model intro, GM offered up a base 'Vette with the six-speed manual gearbox to toss around. Find out what the latest version of America's oldest sports car is like after the jump, including a VIDEO.

click on any image to enlarge

It's actually been over a decade since I sampled a Corvette, having skipped over the C5 generation. The last 'Vette I drove was a late C4 model and the transformation over that time period is simply amazing. While C4 'Vettes had tremendous performance relative to competing models of the time, refinement was not part of the equation. From a functional standpoint, the biggest flaw of the C4 was a severe lack of structural integrity. The chassis flexed so much that it did most of the work allowing the wheels to follow the contours of the road, not the suspension.

The intervening years have been good to GM's sports car. The latest C6 is substantially stiffer than any prior iteration, which allows the suspension to be more compliant so that the wheels can do their job with no assist from the chassis. The long and bumpy right hand sweeper on the GM Ride and Handling Loop that had the C4 skittering off toward the grass was no problem for this model. Besides the chassis stiffness, the Magne-Ride variable damping system also plays a part in the phenomenal handling of the Corvette.

The shift quality of the six speed transaxle wouldn't qualify as silky, but the lever could be moved rapidly through the gates allowing us to make use of the surprisingly quick revving LS3. When the time came to stop, the 'Vette decelerated as though an anchor had been driven into the ground beneath it.

The interior has also been greatly improved relative to older models with clear legible gauges and controls that fall readily to hand. The upgrade of materials found inside the cabin for 2008 was definitely noticeable, as well. Check out the leather covered dash complete with stitching where there once was a sea of plastics.

The 2008 Chevrolet Corvette now has better performance than any previous iteration in a form that is actually usable without punishing the driver. This is the base model, people! Hopefully we'll soon get a chance to see what it's like to live with on day to day basis.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      I owned a Gt328 Ferrari in 95 and the 2008 Corvette is hands down.....better in all aspects....I loved the engine behind my head but you could never hear the radio....2008 Vette'.......the one to buy.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Hmmmm didn't know until now that even the base gets the removable top!!
        • 7 Years Ago
        It has for some time, but only the body color one. Glass is extra. Also the car shown is an 3LT because it has HUD.
      james enis
      • 7 Years Ago
      The Vette will spank the 335i in every respect. Two totally different cars. Speed, quickness, and handling are all superior in the Vette. The 335i rides a little better, it should. And now with the upgraded interior? The Vette is the complete package.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I realize you weren't there to abuse the cars, but.....

      short shifting at what sounded like 4k..."killing some michelins"...

      Maybe I'm just different, but I didn't get a lot out of that "sports car review". Don't get me wrong, I read this blog religously...I just wanted MORE :)
      • 7 Years Ago
      What about the ride and general build quality? Areas that were heavily criticized when a few RHD cars were made available in Australia. No it was not the RHD conversion. The companies actually try and improve the OEM's interiors and plastics if they can.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I just bought a 2005 Lemans Blue, Z51, loaded M6 coupe on Friday. It has a Callaway Honker intake, Kooks headers and Corsa sport exhaust. The car screams! I love it!

      It is heads and shoulders above my Trans Am WS6 convertible.

      Wow!!! I freakin' love this car and I can't stay out of the throttle. On my 900 mile drive home I averaged over 26 mpg on the hwy doing 80+ mph. Gotta love 6th gear.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I purcheded the Jet Stream Blue C-6 2 months ago and it was the best thing I have ever done. It lives up to all the hype and more. When I havent driven it for a week I have my wife call me and just start it up so I can at least hear it and get the rush of it all.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I've had the 2008 convertible for 2 months now and the car is a star. Drag Times website dyno'd auto and stick (just about 300 miles on each) and it came out at an astonishing 450+ hp at the fly wheel. I put on a K&N intake, which is the same one for the Z06 and a B&B exhaust. The numbers jump by about at least another 25+. This car will snap your neck. What a way to go!
      • 7 Years Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      For those who just dont get the fact that this is a great car, get over it.

      And my daily driver is a 2006 M5 so I probably have a more valuable (at least to Chevrolet) opinion then most of the guys on this site panning the car.
      • 7 Years Ago
      No matter how you spin it, this vehicle is still uninspired and lackluster. I was just in Lansing (I was outsourced some aftermarket work on the car), and needless to say, this does not compete with any vehicles in its market except for price. Quite frankly, when you're buying a sports car, you shouldn't be pinching pennies.
        • 7 Years Ago
        So only rich people should drive sports cars?
        If given the choice between a better interior or better racing prowess, I'm going to chose the later in my sports car, and the former in my daily driver. When a European car can give me performance EQUAL to the Vette, and Mercedes quality interior for $50k, call me.
        • 7 Years Ago

        What "market" does it not compete well in "except for price"?

        Price is a pretty big factor in a given market, but even giving a lot of room on price, what else out there beats it? From Porsche, the only cars that are really in the same direct market are the Boxster and the Caymen. Not even close. If you give a bunch of room on price and step up to the 911, you still lose. You have to get to the GT3 or Turbo to "compete" with the Vette.

        Or, by compete, did you mean that the Vette's dashboard isn't as nice to fondle as the Boxster's?

        Viper = 2x Corvette pricing. Not really in the same "market," unless you are talking Z06.

        BMW? Mercedes-Benz? Nothing to bring to the table.

        Audi has the R8, which might have a nice Audi interior (hey, what do you expect for $100k+), but it still loses to the Vette.

        Toyota? Honda? Mazda? Nissan? (OK, with the GTR, they will finally have something to bring to the table...)

        Honestly, with whom does the Vette not compete? Are you talking the F430 / Lambo Gallardo area of the market? If so, that is absurd. Buying a $50k Vette vs. a $150k Ferrari is not "penny pinching." There are LOTS of people who can swing the cash or payments on the Vette who are unable to responsibly try to buy a Ferrari...

        It amazes me how people refuse to accept that the Vette is a world class sports car, a terrific performer at any price, and an incredible value.

        • 7 Years Ago
        Andrew you are extremely ignorant. Read any comparos from any magazine in performance area and then come back and blog. You, quite frankly, are an idiot. The 07 and 08 vettes do better in the courses versus porsches, vipers, whatever. The cost half to a quarter of the other "competitors".
      • 7 Years Ago
      The 2008 is way better than the 2006. I own(ed) both. The new LS3 engine, the steering feel that has been discussed and the new transmission and clutch are all better. Great car!
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