With the addition of the Grand Sport model this year, there are several Corvettes to choose from. The Corvette coupe and convertible have a 6.2-liter, 430-hp V8 engine, known as the LS3, and a standard 6-speed manual transmission, though a 6-speed paddle-shift automatic is an option. The paddle shifter has been revised to include a "push and hold" function to make it easier to transition back to automatic after you've had your fun through the chicanes.
The sport-tuned Z06 has the larger LS7 engine, a 7-liter powerplant that makes 505 hp and is connected to a 6-speed manual only. This combination is capable of 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds -- in first gear. The body is lightened by using an aluminum structure with bonded carbon fiber composites. It features a firmer suspension; red, 6-piston brake calipers; and 18-inch front and 19-inch rear aluminum wheels.
The ZR1 turns up the heat with the LS9 6.2-liter engine and Tremec 6-speed manual transmission, plus a new Performance Traction Management system for improved on-track performance. With 638 hp and 604 lb-ft of torque, the ZR1's top speed has been tested at over 200 mph, making it the fastest production Corvette ever. It's built on the same chassis as the Z06, but with a specially tuned suspension and Michelin performance tires exclusive to the ZR1.
The new Grand Sport coupe and convertible share the LS3 engine with the base model coupe and convertible, and it can be had with a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission. As a replacement for the previous Z51 performance package, the Grand Sport comes standard with wider wheels and tires, a revised suspension, extra cooling, larger brakes and specific manual gear ratios.
All Corvettes come with standard air conditioning, keyless entry, a stereo system with MP3 playback, cruise control, power everything, dual-zone climate control, leather seating and steering-wheel mounted audio controls. Chevrolet provides its flagship sports car with plenty of standard safety features, too, like ABS, driver and passenger air bags, TPMS, traction control, and a limited-slip differential.
The Corvette is a purpose-built driving vehicle, and as such, Chevrolet doesn't offer a wide array of optional equipment. Packages include heated seats, a Bose sound system, a navigation system and Bluetooth. A custom leather-wrapped interior package adds 2-tone leather with crossed flags embroidered in the headrests and leather on the console, instrument panel, and door panels. And you can prove you live in the twenty-first century with the available dot-matrix head-up display that shows speed, rpm, oil pressure and g-meter readings.
All Chevrolet Corvettes are convertibles, when you think about it. A removable roof panel turns the standard Corvette coupe into something sunnier, but there's one problem -- stowing it renders the rear trunk otherwise useless, so it's hard to take in the sun and, say, go to the grocery store. Enter the Corvette Convertible, which picks up a whole slew of new tricks in the move to a mid-engine layout, tricks that might make the drop-top an even more appealing car than the coupe.
Having already spent an inordinate amount of time on the road with the C8 coupe, I feel like I'm in a good position to discuss the addition of a power-folding hardtop and how it makes the Corvette feel different -- or, rather, how it doesn't.
The specs are pretty similar to what you see from other automakers. This electromechanical top takes about 16 seconds to raise or lower, and it'll work at speeds up to 30 mph. It's a fun bit of theater to behold: After pushing or pulling the roof switch, which is positioned like a traditional window switch on the door panel, a massive tonneau cover rises from the back half of the car as the multipiece hardtop folds into place. If people weren't already stopping and staring -- a frequent occurrence for all C8 Corvette variants -- they will once the body starts splaying itself every which way. It's smooth and silent, which gives me confidence that it should last longer than previous hydraulic ragtops, too.
GM will also need owners to swing by a dealer for a new software package to detect battery abnormalities.
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The drop comes from the overwhelming popularity of the Z51 package and its shorter rear-end gearing.
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