ROAD TEST: Chevrolet Corvette - Motoring - Life and Style - The Independent

ROAD TEST: Chevrolet Corvette

Motoring

As an American might say, I can't get my head round the new Chevy Corvette. The problem has not to do with the car itself; it's more the mystery of its failure to catch on in the UK.

The fifth generation 'Vette, along with Ford's Mustang, is the most iconic of American muscle cars. And it offers distinctive heritage by the trunkload. The four round rear lights are a definitive Corvette signature and the weighty tail and swollen front wheel arches give the required impression of unremitting acceleration even when the car is stationary. Inside, the dash layout could almost be from a Honda, save for a few odd spellings such as "gage" for gauge.

Judged on paper, the Corvette could appear - and this is the preconception with which I approached it - as a rather crude route to the basic requirements of supercar performance. The 5.7-litre engine is a good ol' Yank V8 with two valves per cylinder and a single camshaft with pushrods. The suspension uses leaf springs, for Pete's sake.

The best part of 350bhp is hardly a shortcoming and neither is 356lb ft of torque, most of which is available at engine speeds where Italian sports cars are only just ticking over. Squeeze the pedal ever so slightly and a contemptuous, lazy surge is delivered; push hard enough for the 'box to kick down to second (there is a manual alternative, but this automatic transmission is perfect for the car) and the Corvette is impaled on the buffers of a passing express train. The nearest European equivalent I can offer is a V8-engined Aston Martin, which, in any case, is a Brit bruiser very much in the American mould.

The Chevy is a stunning performer, and it all happens in such an unruffled way that you can find yourself terminally on the wrong side of the law before you realise what's going on: at a fast cruise in the ludicrously overdriven top gear the engine is barely awake and the ride - I left the adjustable dampers on the middle of their three firmness settings - is deceptively compliant. The most unfamiliar aspect of the Corvette's dynamics is the steering. Not for this those tight-gripped, from-the-elbow inputs; you need to drive like an American, palms on the rim, easing the car through bends with a gentle sway of the shoulders.

Soul, performance, good looks and a humbling price tag of pounds 35,000 - it's a crying shame that only about 30 Corvettes a year will make it to the UK through the officially appointed importer. Perhaps the left-hand drive puts people off; perhaps the (mistaken) impression of a lack of sophistication offends European tastes; maybe the 'Vette just isn't expensive enough to be taken seriously.

CHEVROLET CORVETTE

Specifications

Engine: 5666cc V8, 2 valves per cylinder. 344bhp, 356lb ft. Four-speed automatic with overdrive.

Performance: Top speed 171mph, 0-60mph 5.05secs, overall fuel consumption 21.5mpg

Price: approx pounds 35,000

Comparisons

TVR Cerbera 4.2 pounds 39,800

The first car built for TVR's own V8 suffers from an attempt at oversophistication of the interior and electronic systems. Conversely, the mechanicals are raw and raucous. Blindingly fast, though, which was the main objective.

Porsche 911 Carrera, pounds 61,250

The 911 is to Europeans what the 'Vette is to Americans - the practical, totally dependable supercar. Sharper and more austere than the Chevy, but even in this, its most basic form, it's approaching double the money. Add another pounds 4,500 if you want a removable roof.

Marcos Mantis 4.6 Spyder, pounds 39,995

For V8-engined bruiser from Britain's cottage supercar industry, and definitely an eccentric choice. Unrefined (though in a seat-of-pants and charming sort of way), it feels a bit kit-car from the inside. Engine rather good, though, and the looks are "striking".

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

    £35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

    Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

    £26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

    Retail Business Analyst

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

    Senior C++ Developer

    £400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week