2004 Corvette New Car Test Drive
The 2004 model year is the swan song for the fifth-generation Chevrolet Corvette, and will mark the best year for the C5s. A new Corvette, or C6, is expected for model year 2005. (We're expecting an evolutionary model that builds on the C5, with advances in aerodynamics and interior refinement.) In the meantime, we have the C5.
About 3,000 Corvettes will be sold for model year 2004, some of which will be special editions designed to commemorate C5-R victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and other endurance races. Le Mans Blue paint and polished wheels distinguish the 2004 Corvette Commemorative Edition models. Their interiors are Shale-colored, with a matching top on the convertible.
The high-performance Z06 benefits from suspension tuning for 2004 based on extensive testing at Germany's fabled Nurburgring racetrack and General Motors Milford Proving Grounds. The goal was improved ride quality, but the revised Z06 suspension also feels 'more tied down, more glued to the road,' according to Chevrolet. Sporting a C5-R Le Mans stripe, the Z06 Commemorative Edition gets a lightweight carbon fiber hood.
For the past 50 years, the Corvette has been America's sports car, a U.S.-production two-seater capable of real racetrack performance. The Corvette endures because it has always represented a performance value. The C5 does this in a big way, boasting performance and handling matched only by the Dodge Viper, Porsche 911 and various exotics, all of which are far more expensive.
But some of that misses the point. There's really nothing quite like the Corvette. Driving each of the C5 models, whether it's a coupe, convertible, or the Z06, is always a visceral experience. Most powerful is the Z06 hardtop, with 405 horsepower on tap. The coupe is the most practical, offering nearly twice as much trunk space as the convertible or hardtop models. The convertible is sometimes the most enjoyable, however. Motoring along on a warm summer night in a Corvette with the top down can be a peak experience.
The 2004 Corvette lineup consists of coupe ($43,735), convertible ($50,735), and Z06 hardtop ($51,585).
The 350-horsepower 5.7-liter LS1 V8 powers the coupe and convertible. An automatic transmission is standard; a six-speed manual ($915) is optional.
The LS6 V8 in the Z06 hardtop displaces the same 5.7 liters, but produces an amazing 405 horsepower and 400 foot-pounds of torque. Z06 comes only with the six-speed manual.
The coupe comes with a body-colored removable roof panel as standard equipment; a blue-tinted transparent removable panel ($750) is an option. The coupe's rear window opens like a hatchback. The hardtop and convertible have trunks. The Z06 is also a coupe, but is called the hardtop because its top is fixed, for maximum rigidity, and presents a notched profile.
Standard equipment includes dual-zone climate controls, fog lamps, sport seats, four-wheel-disc brakes with ABS, a driver information center, remote keyless entry, stainless steel exhaust with chromed quad outlets, retractable headlights, Bose speakers, 6-way power seats with leather upholstery, extended-mobility (run flat) Z-rated tires, traction control with Active Handling, and cast alloy wheels. The coupe comes with a parcel net and luggage shade. Child Restraint Attachment System (CRAS) hooks are provided in the passenger and the passenger-side air bag can be manually shut off while carrying children. The Z06 hardtop adds a head-up instrument display, titanium exhaust, a tire inflator kit for its Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, and forged alloy wheels. The six-speed manual is the only transmission offered.
Commemorative editions add $3,700 to the retail prices of the coupe and convertible, $4,335 to the MSRP of the Z06 with its carbon fiber hood.