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First look: Corvette powers into sixth generation

Smaller and sleeker: The restyled Corvette cuts through the air with an excellent 0.28 Cd.

Chevrolet has revealed the latest generation of the legendary Corvette

2 Jan 2004

AN American icon, the Chevrolet Corvette, enters its sixth generation this weekend when the wraps are pulled off the new car at the Detroit Opera House.

It’s a grand venue for an appropriately grand part of Yankee automotive history as Corvette celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2003.

Only the coupe will be shown at the Opera House and then at the Detroit Auto Show which kicks off this Sunday (US time).

For its latest iteration Corvette gets a systematic update, with an all-new body clothing a new engine, thoroughly revised suspension and all-new interior.

The body is 127mm shorter than the C5, and roughly 25mm narrower with an excellent 0.28 aerodynamic coefficient of drag, honed by 400 hours in the wind tunnel and racing experience.

Gone are the retractable headlights which have been a Corvette feature since 1962, while underneath the fenders sit larger – in fact quite massive – 18-inch front and 19-inch rear alloy wheels clothed in licquorice strap rubber.

The new V8 engine is of most interest to Australians as it is the first production appearance of the 6.0-litre Gen IV that will most likely flow into the Commodore range from the 2005 VZ Series II update.

In the Corvette it is in LS2 spec, producing 400hp (roughly 300kW) at 6000rpm and 400 lb-ft (roughly 540Nm) of torque at 4400rpm. The largest, most powerful standard small-block engine ever offered in Corvette, it propels the car to about 180mph (300km/h) according to GM.

The LS2 is teamed with a group of gearboxes familiar to Aussie performance car fans.

The six-speed manual is the Tremec T-56, which is available with the choice of two sets of ratios, one with more aggressive ratios reserved for a new performance package called Z51.

The four-speed auto option is the Hydra-Matic 4L65-E automatic transmission, upgraded from the C5’s 4L60-E and strengthened and revised to accommodate the LS2’s increase in torque.

Underpinnings of the C6 are shared with the swoopy Cadillac XLR - hydroformed steel rails with aluminium and magnesium structures. There are three suspension choices – standard, GM’s magnetic Selective Ride Control and Z51.

While GM says there is no suspension component carry-over from C5, the fundamental design package stays the same, including the short-long arm front and transverse leaf (yes leaf!) spring independent rear.

New electronic technologies onboard including Keyless Access with push-button start, and optional features such as a reconfigurable head-up display, DVD-navigation system with voice activation, XM Satellite Radio and OnStar.

Production of the C6 coupe is slated to begin in the third quarter. A convertible version will be unveiled in the first half of 2004, with its production beginning in the third quarter of 2004. The coupe does offer some wind in the hair experience thanks to a standard, removable-roof panel.

Inside the Corvette has had a complete makeover, including – GM boasts - high speed cup-holders capable of keeping a latte in place even during the most extreme maneuvers. Ah, only in America! * Neither Holden or HSV has any plans to import the sixth generation Corvette for sale in Australia. The current Corvette was considered by HSV, but the plan was ultimately scrapped.

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