2008 Chevrolet Corvette Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
May 30, 2008

What’s not to like about the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette? Never has any car delivered on its performance promise with such ease and confidence for such an affordable price.

TheCarConnection.com's editors read the latest reviews on the new 2008 Chevrolet Corvette to write this comprehensive review. Experts from TheCarConnection.com also drove the standard Chevrolet Corvette, including the Z51 and Z06 models, and can offer driving impressions and details that add to your understanding of this iconic sportscar. This review also compares the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette with other vehicles in its class to give you the best advice even when other reviews present conflicting opinions.

Today, more than ever, speed comes easy. Evidence: The 2008 Chevrolet Corvette. Fittingly, it's the first place GM chose to put its new 430-horsepower V-8. Together, the new engine and the Gen VI Chevy Corvette make a total speed package capable of an honest and repeatable 190 mph. Yup, over three miles per minute is available for low monthly payments from your local Chevrolet dealer. Chevy expects to sell around 40,000 per year. Is this a great country or what? Far fewer of the ultra-high-performance 505-hp Corvette Z06 models will be sold, as this model is more expensive but delivers the ultimate in American performance.

So what do you actually get when you leave your Chevrolet dealer's lot in a new Corvette? Well, with the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette, you're actually getting (in Microsoft terms) a Generation 6.5 Vette. GM's sportscar got a midcycle refresh in 2007; along with the new 6.2-liter V-8 superseding the 6.0-liter engine, plenty of other revisions were made. The overall result: All it takes to go fast in this car is aiming and firing. Bragging rights are thus: 0-60 comes up in only 4.1 seconds with the new six-speed manual. Its throws are shorter, and the gearbox has a smoother mechanical feel. The reprogrammed and faster-shifting-for-2008 automatic transmission takes only two-tenths [of a second?] longer to dispatch the same task. Fifth gear takes you to 190 mph, a feat that consumes nearly three minutes and over eight miles. You get this performance with EPA estimated economy of 16 mpg city and 26 mpg highway, but you'll need to use sixth gear to hit those numbers.

Capable brakes burn off the speed. TheCarConnection.com's last ride was with a Z51-equipped Corvette coupe sporting cross-drilled rotors measuring 13.4 inches front, 13 inches rear. As it has been for almost a quarter century, the Corvette with the Z51 package get more aggressively tuned springs and dampers, larger bars, and upgraded tires. What hasn't always been part of the Z51 package was a livable ride. The first modern Z51-equipped cars (from 1984) rode so stiffly that they would knock your fillings out. The 2008 Chevrolet Corvette with the Z51 car could easily be a daily driver. The drawbacks are nil to those who don't mind a slightly stiffer ride than standard-issue C6.5s.

Review continues below

Steering feel on all standard 2008 Chevrolet Corvette models is up, thanks to an entirely new rack. This revision should quiet those who felt the previous steering system wasn't spot-on. We've put close to 1,000 miles on previous C6s and never felt the need to complain, but more feel is always welcome.

The only downside to the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette is the fact that it has a spotty reliability record. Paint, squeaks, rattles, and powertrain issues top the complaint lists.

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2008 Chevrolet Corvette

Styling

The 2008 Chevrolet Corvette has an interior, finally, to match its timeless exterior.

The 2008 Chevrolet Corvette returns with major mods to its interior, but the exterior remains a classically sexy sportscar.

Edmunds says the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette has “eye-catching style.” Cars.com notes that it’s “the first one since 1962 with fixed headlights. Xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights are standard. Round taillights and integrated exhaust tips appear at the rear. A tapered rear deck is claimed to improve high-speed performance.” It’s also available in two body styles and one higher-performance version: “A convertible and hatchback coupe are offered, as is a high-performance Z06 coupe” to Chevrolet; 2008’s Z06 gets a “unique front fascia and upper inlet complement a specific grille, fenders, quarter panels and rear spoiler.”

Reviewers from CarPages UK say the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette's front end is "taut" and "purposeful." They note that the four tailpipes "compliment" the "trademark four tail lamps." Automedia reports of the new Corvette body, “The exterior designers' mission was a fresh new look with a taste of classic 1963-1967 ‘mid-year’ Corvette. With help from exposed headlamps (last seen on the 1962 Corvette) and a tapered rear deck and fascia with reduced aerodynamic lift for enhanced high-speed stability, it's the slickest ‘Vette ever at 0.28 Cd (coefficient of drag).”

Inside, the Corvette for 2007 had an interior that looked "too rent-a-Chevy," according to Motor Trend. There’s a new emphasis on interior quality at Chevrolet; 2008 brings to the ‘Vette an interior option that wraps the seats and steering wheel in top-grade cowhide as good as any import. The 2008 Chevrolet Corvette’s dash and door panels also receive the enhanced leather. Motor Trend says the new interior leather came from a company called Draexlmaier, "the same people who provide the leather for Mercedes, and the up-level Cadillac cockpits." Of the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette’s new interior, Autoblog says the controls "fall readily to hand."

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2008 Chevrolet Corvette

Performance

The 2008 Chevrolet Corvette delivers on its promise of supercar performance.

Performance is the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette’s middle name. For 2008, it's the ‘Vette’s first and last names too.

Edmunds reports that at Chevrolet, 2008’s Corvette comes in two trims: “The standard Corvette comes with a 6.2-liter, 430-horsepower V-8 coupled to either a six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic. (Models previous to 2008 had a 6.0-liter engine and 400 hp.) The Z06 comes with a 505-hp 7.0-liter V-8 mated to a six-speed manual.” They disliked the “the manual transmission's clunky gearchanges.”

Cars.com notes that “the Z06 is 3 inches wider than other Corvettes, and the car's aluminum frame has a magnesium engine cradle. Super-performance engine technology includes such items as titanium connecting rods and intake valves. Chevrolet says the Z06 will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds.”

All the reviewers universally praise the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette powerplant, but most of their discussions are aimed at the enhanced steering that elevated the car to a new level. Motor Trend cites the "tighter machining tolerances for the rack and pinion gears and a stiffer intermediate shaft." Car and Driver states the steering felt "lighter" and "less artificial" with "far less drama."

“A choice of three suspensions (standard, optional Magnetic Ride Control with Sport and Touring modes and track-ready Z51) for the regular Corvette mean there's a setup for everyone, from casual enthusiasts to hard-core apex clippers,” Edmunds reports, “and all provide a fairly smooth ride.”

Equally praised are the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette’s brakes and capable suspension, stopping the car from 70 mph in 161 feet and pulling 0.95 g's on the skid pad. ConsumerGuideAuto warns that a judicious use of the throttle is in order in corners, or the car is prone "to fishtail."

Fuel consumption also merits mention. A coupe with the manual transmission achieved 17.4 mpg. A convertible with the automatic ran 17.7 mpg, but the Z06 needed the most fuel, rating only 14-15 mpg and demanding premium fuel.

TheCarConnection.com drove the new 2008 Chevrolet Corvette and thinks the six-speed manual gearbox is the best choice. Its throws are shorter, and the gearbox has a smoother mechanical feel. Fifth gear takes you to 190 mph, a feat that consumes nearly three minutes and over eight miles. You get this performance with EPA-estimated economy of 16 mpg city and 26 mpg highway, but you'll need to use sixth gear to hit those numbers.

Capable brakes burn off the speed. TheCarConnection.com's last ride was with a Z51-equipped 2008 Chevrolet Corvette coupe sporting cross-drilled rotors measuring 13.4 inches front, 13 inches rear. As it has been for almost a quarter century, the Corvette with the Z51 package get more aggressively tuned springs and dampers, larger bars, and upgraded tires. What hasn't always been part of the Z51 package was a livable ride. The first modern Z51-equipped cars (from 1984) rode so stiffly that they would knock your fillings out. The 2008 Chevrolet Corvette with the Z51 car could easily be a daily driver.

8

2008 Chevrolet Corvette

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Chevrolet Corvette has a much-improved interior, but there’s still not much room inside.

With all that raw horsepower and fiberglass, the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette fights to shed its beastly image and delivers its most civilized ride yet.

At Chevrolet, 2008 brings some much-needed refinement into the Chevy Corvette’s cabin and overall quality. ConsumerGuideAuto calls the room for both driver and passenger in the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette "adequate" and says the seats are "comfortable." Motor Trend notices the new center console and bright work, declaring the interior "classier." Car and Driver says the new interior addressed many of the car's "shortcomings." The optional cabin treatment has the same leather used in Maybachs, TheCarConnection.com adds. The rich two-tone leather is welcome, and far superior to aftermarket fix-it attempts.

Cars.com points out that room is at a premium in the Chevrolet; 2008’s Corvette has “cargo volume beneath the hatchback lid is 22 cubic feet. Convertibles hold 11 cubic feet, but capacity drops to 7.5 cubic feet with the top down.”

Fit and finish received very little attention in these reviews. Edmunds says specifically that the Corvette has made "big strides in fit and finish" for Chevrolet; 2008 versions “boast[s] friendly ergonomics, supportive seats and excellent fit and finish.” However, they did note the Corvette’s “mediocre cupholder and storage provisions, ho-hum interior materials and underwhelming Bose audio system.”

ConsumerGuideAuto mentions that the roof panel in the coupe they tested gave an unwarranted rattle, and the keyless entry and ignition can be a bit temperamental if the Access fob is ill-placed.

8

2008 Chevrolet Corvette

Safety

The 2008 Chevrolet Corvette has many safety systems, but lacks curtain airbags and hasn’t been tested for crash performance.

The Chevrolet 2008 Corvette has yet to be evaluated by any government agency with respect to its ability to withstand a crash. Of course, safety remains on the minds of all GM designers, and the Corvette comes equipped with some outstanding safety features.

As been noted elsewhere on TheCarConnection.com, the best way to survive a car crash is not to get in one in the first place, and the Chevy Corvette 2008 has a number of ways to help you do just that. ConsumerGuideAuto notes the stopping power, saying the "powerful brakes provide short, stable stops" and that it comes with anti-lock brakes and traction control.

Edmunds calls the active stability control, which monitors traction and engine power, "superb" in the Chevrolet; 2008 also means that "side-impact airbags are optional, but head curtain airbags are not available," which Cars.com confirms.

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2008 Chevrolet Corvette

Features

The 2008 Chevrolet Corvette's features are limited only by the amounts in the buyer's bank account.

As a member of the GM family, the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette has a long list of features that can be checked when ordering the car.

Cars.com documents the ‘Vette’s features as such: “A CD player with MP3 capability is standard, while the optional Bose system includes an in-dash six-CD changer and steering-wheel audio controls. XM Satellite Radio is standard on this Chevrolet; 2008 also brings OnStar. An audio input jack is standard on all stereos except those in cars equipped with the optional navigation system.” They also note, “A power-operated top is optional on convertibles.”

Both Motor Trend and Car and Driver made special mention of the enhanced exhaust with the order code NPP. This special two-stage exhaust will open a set of butterfly valves at about 2,850 rpm. The result reduces backpressure by about 80 percent, releasing another 4 hp and 6 pound-feet of torque, not to mention what Car and Driver calls "the raucous roar it deserves."

The 2008 Chevrolet Corvette also comes with cup holders.

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The Chevrolet Corvette cannot be beat for the price!

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The Corvette has it all, style, performance, comfort and good, but not great fuel economy. I bought it new in spring of '08 and have driven it 40,000 miles since then. No problems at all, only expenses were... + More »
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