Auto Review: A high-tech American classic

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Apr. 26, 2012
Contributed
- Contributed Photo

Time sure flies when you’re a sports car, especially if you’re one of the most identifiable sporting automobiles ever to carve up a serpentine stretch of blacktop or rout the competition on the racetrack.

GM’s Chevrolet Motor Division recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, and the rear-drive Corvette has been around nearly 60 of these years and is one of the most recognized (and loved) icons in the automotive world. The current iteration is the sixth generation of a car that has been with us since 1953, and while the name has stayed the same, the machine has steadily evolved with regular updates in performance technology to keep the car competitive with some of the most exotic machinery on the road. The result is a 2012 Corvette that balances a challenging mix of traditional attributes that make it recognizable (and pay tribute to a very proud heritage), while moving forward with the very latest in engineering advancements to make it safer, quicker and more responsive than ever before.

While the current Corvette can be had in several trim ranges that are largely delineated by their performance specifications, we tested what I think is the best blend of touring comfort and performance for the street: the Grand Sport edition. Available in both coupe (with a removable roof panel) and soft-top convertible versions, the GS is powered by a 6.2-liter LS3 430 horsepower V8 (436 horsepower with the optional performance exhaust we sampled) and either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission with a paddle-shift manual mode. We had the manual gearbox, which is an ideal choice in terms of the ratios suiting the broad range of power available from this excellent engine.

Three things really define a sports car’s backroad competence: balance, suspension compliance and braking performance. The balance of the car is excellent; the optional Magnetic Selective Ride Control gobbles up bumps and delivers great control and feedback, while the massive cross-drilled brake rotors enable very short stopping distances. Ultra-sophisticated (and adjustable) Active Handling Traction Control helps keep the car where it’s pointed, as does the steering, which is exemplary in both quickness and feedback.

There’s not enough room to list all the superlatives in driving dynamics for this latest Corvette, but I can point out that the sport seats help you both exploit and enjoy all this performance with substantial support and comfort. The two-seat cockpit of the Corvette lets you listen to the music of the V8 and/or the Premium Bose sound system found on our GS, and sets the table for an ultimate surround-sound high-performance driving experience. The Corvette always has been (and remains) a uniquely American expression of what an exotic sports machine is all about.

The 2012 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Coupe is EPA rated 16 MPG city/26 highway and has a base price of $55,925. With options, our sticker came to $71,980. www.chevy.com

 


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