- Exceptional performance/value ratio
- 430-horsepower "base" model
- 505-hp Z06 and 638-hp ZR1 performance models
- Quality issues persist, but are getting further and fewer between
- Base interior can feel a little drab
While the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette provides plenty of impressive performance to dream and/or brag about, this car is not a one-trick pony. If ever there were a practical sportscar, this is it.
The much-anticipated 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 is big news for fans of the Corvette, Chevy’s legendary flagship sportscar. TheCarConnection.com has driven the ZR1 on the road and track and finds it a truly impressive sports car—no reservations, no qualifications.
Along with the introduction of the ZR1, there's another 2009 change that we like a lot. Chevrolet now offers a less expensive 2009 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible. New this year, the Convertible can be ordered as a base 1LT model that costs about $3,000 less than the 2LT "base" model that used to be the least expensive drop-top. Today the difference between a Corvette Coupe and Convertible is around $5,000, down from about $8,000 in 2008.
Across the entire 2009 Chevrolet Corvette line, styling hasn't changed much from 2008 to 2009 or since the introduction of the sixth-generation car in 2005. The bolder Z06 and ZR1 wear more muscular bodywork to cover the wider tires on those models, and the ZR1 has a new engine window, which doesn't add much excitement, according to the styling gurus at TheCarConnection.com. All Corvettes get down to business inside, with a cockpit-like interior bearing a large, hooded gauge cluster and prominent, high center console; two-tone schemes help damp the visual effect of the plentiful dark-toned plastics.
Genuine excitement (whether or not you see it through the hood) comes in varying degrees from every 2009 Chevrolet Corvette powertrain. The base 430-horsepower 6.2-liter LS3 V-8 Vette coupe tops out at 190 mph and can run from 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds (manual six-speed) or 4.3 ticks (automatic six-speed).
Stepping up to the Z06 model with the larger 7.0-liter LS7 V-8, top speed goes up and 0-60-mph times drop: 198 mph and 3.7 seconds. Because of the mammoth, accessible torque from either engine, the 2009 Chevy Corvette is enjoyable to drive with the optional automatic but definitely at its best with the manual, even though the shift action tends to be overly deliberate and notchy.
The top-of-the-line, 638-horsepower ZR1 tops out at an electronically limited 205 mph (engineers estimate the unleashed top speed to be approximately 210 mph). The hand-built, supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 launches this car to 60 mph in only 3.4 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 11.3 seconds at an astounding 131 mph—significantly quicker than a Dodge Viper.
The Corvette's ride is vastly superior to previous generations that often rode like ox carts. Even the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 (with its huge tires) rides well thanks to new tire technology and magnetic ride control. The compliant ride and overall refinement make these cars more than weekend toys. For the right person, they can be daily transportation. Impressively, when driven modestly on the highway, it's not uncommon to achieve nearly 30 mpg.
Seating is comfortable and visibility is good for a car so low. Exterior and interior fit and finish are solid, and squeaks and rattles are absent. TheCarConnection.com particularly likes the leather-wrapped interior that is part of the 4LT package. Additionally, the hatch provides room for more than just a travel pack of Kleenex. There's 22.4 cubic feet of cargo volume in the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe and a useful 11 cubic feet under the trunk lid of the Convertible. The Convertible uses a layered fabric soft top that isolates the cabin well from wet and cold but not as admirably from road noise.
The 2009 Chevrolet Corvette is an extremely safe vehicle from an active point of view; stability control, ABS, and traction control are all standard. In terms of passive safety, only front airbags are standard. Side airbags are optional, but side curtains are not available as they are on so many 2009 vehicles. The sixth-generation Corvette had not yet been crash-tested at the time this story was posted.
Keeping pace with technology, the 2009 Chevrolet Corvette gets to tap into GM's deep well of features. High-end audio and voice-activated navigation systems are available, as are as a growing list of services from GM's OnStar. In recognition of the reality of cell phones and other mobile communication devices, GM is now offering Bluetooth connectivity. Don't miss the special two-stage exhaust option. As the revs climb, the sound from these pipes is pure magic.
And unlike some other performance cars, the Corvette comes with functional cup holders!
The next closest competitor to the Corvette is the Porsche 911. With its proliferation of models (rear- and all-wheel drive, naturally aspirated, and turbo powered), the German sportscar offers more choice and arguably more refinement than the American. However, these advantages come at a considerable cost.
When comparing price tags, the Porsche Boxster lines up nicely against the base Corvette, but its six-cylinder engine matches the Chevy's muscular V-8. The same point can be made against the Nissan 350Z, although with a new model expected soon, the equation may change.