2011 Corvette New Car Test Drive
The Chevrolet Corvette is the best bang for the buck when it comes to serious performance. For the price of a midsize luxury sedan, the Corvette delivers supercar performance. It's easy to drive on a daily basis and maintenance costs are not exotic.
We love the Coupe, with either the manual or Paddle Shift automatic. It's blazingly fast yet it quickly infuses the driver with confidence. Its brakes are fantastic. The 6-speed automatic transmission works great and lives up to the advanced technology in the rest of the car; it can be shifted manually with levers on the steering column.
The Convertible on the other hand is plain wonderful. Drop the top on a nice day, pop in your favorite CD, and you might have what psychologists call a peak experience, a moment where you revel in being alive. It's a fantastic feeling, and at those moments the Corvette more than justifies its price. The aural sounds of the burbling V8, the body-colored trim that surrounds the cabin, the feel of power beneath, it is automotive heaven.
The Corvette can be a reasonably comfortable daily driver in most locales, for at least three of the four seasons. The latest-generation Corvette is a sophisticated car, and its performance does not exact a painful toll on driver or passenger. And, with all that performance, it still gets better fuel economy than most SUVs. The standard Corvette with 6-speed manual gets an EPA-rated 16/26 mpg City/Highway, 15/25 mpg with the 6-speed automatic.
The Z06 version is a true supercar for a price that's merely expensive, as opposed to insanely expensive. The Z06 is powered by the 7.0-liter 505-horsepower LS7 V8, has a lightweight chassis and is fitted with upgraded brakes. If any $75,000 car can be called a bargain, this is the one, at least in terms of raw performance. The Corvette Z06 accelerates faster, grips better and stops shorter than European sports cars that cost twice as much. And we find it easier to drive than a Viper. Indeed, it takes an expensive machine, well driven, to compete with a Z06. Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 15/24 mpg with the manual, 14/20 mpg with the automatic.
Moving even further upward is the ZR1, a limited-production extremely high performance iteration that boasts a 6.2-liter V8 that's supercharged and cranks out 638 horsepower and 604 pound-feet of torque. It is the most powerful, quickest, fastest, most capable and highest-performing production car ever built by General Motors, which also makes it the highest-performing Corvette ever built, and carries a hefty price tag.
For 2011, Chevrolet has improved the Corvette with some modest changes. Most significantly, the Z06 has been upgraded with standard Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar Gen 2 tires and revised exhaust tuning. A new Z07 option adds Brembo ceramic brakes, Magnetic Selective Ride Control, larger Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires, and Competition Gray 20-spoke wheels (19-inches in front and 20 on the rear). A new Carbon Fiber package (code CFZ) adds a black carbon fiber splitter, rockers, and roof panel; plus a body-color, ZR1-style full-width rear spoiler. Larger, cross-drilled brake rotors are now offered on base models (and come standard with the Magnetic Selective Ride Control suspension). A handsome new five-slim-spoke wheel design distinguishes the 2011 Corvette from last year's. Contrasting-color headlamp housings (in Cyber Gray, Black or Blade Silver) and color-stitched interiors are available across the board, and all navigation-equipped Corvettes now come with a USB port.
The 2011 Chevrolet Corvette is available in two body styles, Coupe or Convertible, with either a manual or automatic transmission. The Z06 and ZR1 models are available only as fixed-roof Coupes.
The Corvette Coupe ($48,950) and Convertible ($53,600) are powered by a 6.2-liter V8 with 430 horsepower. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard; a 6-speed Paddle Shift automatic ($1,250) is optional. An optional dual-mode exhaust system ($1,195) raises horsepower to 436 hp. There are four trim levels; 1LT, 2LT, 3LT and 4LT, with increasing levels of features.
The Coupe features a one-piece removable roof panel in body color or transparent plastic ($750); the dual-roof option ($1,400) includes both. The Convertible comes standard with a manually operated soft top; a power soft top, with a heated glass rear window, is standard on 2LT trim levels and above.
Standard features for the Corvette include leather seating surfaces, dual-zone automatic climate control with a pollen filter, power everything including seats, cruise control, tilt leather-wrapped steering wheel with redundant audio controls, remote keyless entry and starting, AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary input jack, XM Satellite Radio, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, automatic headlights, alarm, fog lights, xenon headlights, OnStar telematics, and P245/40ZR18 front and P285/35ZR19 rear run-flat tires on alloy wheels. The 2LT and above models add sport seats with adjustable lumbar support and side bolsters, plus Bluetooth connectivity.
For a suspension option, the Magnetic Selective Ride Control ($1,995) automatically switches from extra-firm to more comfortable touring settings with electronically controlled variable damping. The package now includes cross-drilled brake rotors that are also available as a stand-alone option ($500). These rotors are larger than standard (13.4 vs. 12.8 inches up front, and 13.0 vs. 12.0 inches in the rear), but not quite as large as the 14.0/13.4 front/rear rotors on the Z06.
Options include DVD navigation ($1,795), which now comes with a USB port as well as the Bose audio and voice recognition. There are a variety of wheel options in a wide range of styles and finishes. The 3LT package for the coupe ($4,205) and convertible ($6,200) includes a head-up display, heated seats with position memory, a premium Bose stereo, a power telescoping steering column, and a universal garage door opener. The 4LT package includes the 3LT and adds custom leather upholstery on the top of the instrument panel, upper door panels, and console cover, as well as extra armrest padding, crossed flags seat embroidery and a special console trim plate.
The Grand Sport Coupe ($54,790) and Convertible ($58,600) are equipped the same as the base models but with wider-body styling to cover their wider track, racing-tuned suspension, and Z06-sized tires and brakes.
Corvette Z06 ($74,305) comes with a 7.0-liter V8 producing 505 horsepower, with dry-sump lubrication and coolers for the power steering pump, gearbox and rear differential. Beyond the engine, the Z06 package includes a host of high-performance components. The Z06 hardtop is fixed in place. Its brakes are upgraded, its tires are huge (Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar P275/35ZR18 fronts and P325/30ZR19 rears), and it's offered only with the 6-speed manual transmission. Options include the Z07 Ultimate Performance package ($9,495) with ceramic brakes with dark gray calipers, Competition Gray aluminum spider wheels, Michelin PS2 tires (P285/30ZR19 front, P335/25ZR20 rear), Magnetic Selective Ride Control and enhanced cooling. The CFZ Carbon Fiber package ($3,995) features a black-painted carbon fiber roof, rocker panels, and splitter, plus a body-color ZR1-style spoiler. The 2LZ package ($2,665) includes a power telescoping steering column, heated seats, memory for the seats, mirrors and steering wheel, Bose audio, universal garage door opener, cargo net, and cargo cover. The 3LZ package ($7,170) has the 2LZ equipment plus power sport seats and a premium leather package similar to the 4LT. There is a variety of wheel choices, including painted aluminum and chrome finishes.
Corvette ZR1 ($109,800) has a supercharged 6.2-liter version of the Z06 V8, utilizing an Eaton four-lobe supercharger. To deal with the additional stresses and loads, every appropriate piece of the engine has been upgraded. The ZR1 is available only as a coupe, and only with a heavy-duty 6-speed manual transmission. The ZR1 gets huge Brembo brakes, 15.5 inches in front and 15.0 inches in the rear, and made of special heat-resistant carbon-ceramic material. The tires are Michelin Pilot Sport 2 ZP run-flats, sized 285/30ZR19 in front and 335/25ZR20 in the rear; the rims are 10 inches wide in front and 12 inches in the rear. The ZR1 also has the lighter-weight aluminum chassis components of the Z06, and carbon fiber for the roof, hood and front fenders. In addition, the ZR1 hood has a transparent panel.
Safety features that come standard on all models include dual-stage front airbags, side airbags, ABS, tire-pressure monitor, traction control and electronic stability control.