- Good bang for your buck
- Street cred in spades
- Surprisingly compliant ride
- New Launch Control system
- Notchy, deliberate shift action
- Interior starting to show its age
- Still lacks curtain airbags
Stupendously fast yet amazingly practical, the 2010 Chevrolet Corvette is the supercar you can live with.
Chevrolet was always going to have a tough time improving on its Corvette line. Last year we saw the introduction of the mighty ZR1 supercar and a price cut for the base convertible; for the 2010 model year, the automaker brings out the big guns.
First and foremost is the introduction of a new Grand Sport model, which returns for 2010 with wide-body styling and race-bred suspension; it's available in either coupe or convertible body styles. The other major introduction is a new Launch Control system that comes standard on all manual ‘Vettes and can make even the most amateur of drivers look like a pro at the traffic light.
We've tested the system on the road and track and find it to be truly impressive—no reservations, no qualifications. The new system modulates engine torque 100 times per second and is designed to give drivers optimal traction during full-throttle starts. In addition to the availability of the Launch Control system, the 2010 ZR1 gets what Chevy calls “Performance Traction Management” (PTM) technology, which holds a predetermined engine speed while the driver pushes the throttle to the floor. That allows the driver to quickly release the clutch, and the system modulates engine torque for the best traction during track driving.
But it’s not just performance aspects that get our tick of approval for 2010. Side airbags now come standard on all models, as well as a range of updated colors, including the return of Torch Red.
Across the entire 2010 Chevrolet Corvette lineup, styling remains much the same as the previous year. After all, the Corvette is one of the sexiest cars on the road today, so there’s no point mucking with the winning formula. The Z06 and ZR1 continue with their more muscular bodywork to cover the wider tires on those models, and the ZR1 still features a clear plastic window, which doesn't add much excitement, according to the styling gurus at TheCarConnection.com.
The Grand Sport adds a new dimension, essentially replacing the Corvette's previous Z51 package and bringing a greater degree of handling performance. Benefiting from wide-body styling, the Grand Sport also gets a Z06-style front splitter and rear spoiler, new brake ducts, and unique 18-inch wheels with 275mm tires up front and 19-inch wheels shod with 325mm rubber in the rear.
All Corvettes are pure performance inside, with a cockpit-inspired interior dominated by a large hooded gauge cluster, a high center console, and the usual dull GM plastics. An optional feature is the crossed-flags logo embroidery for seats, as well as a new cashmere trim for the Z06 and ZR1.
While the interior can be a little drab in appearance, once you floor the throttle all is forgotten as genuine excitement pours from each and every 2010 Chevrolet Corvette powertrain.
The base Corvette gets a potent 430-horsepower LS3 V-8 that displaces 6.2 liters and is good for a 0-60-mph run in just 4.1 seconds with the manual or 4.3 seconds with the automatic. An optional two-mode exhaust system (also available on the Grand Sport) brings a power rating increase to 436 horses and 428 pound-feet of torque. As the revs climb, the sound from these pipes is intense. While manual drivers get the new Launch Control system for 2010, customers picking the self-shifter will welcome a revised six-speed automatic paddle shift control that includes a “push and hold” feature to make returning to automatic mode simpler.
Sitting between the base Corvette and the sexy Z06 is the new Grand Sport. Powered by the same 430-horsepower and 424 pound-feet of torque LS3 V-8, the 2010 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport also gets wider wheels and tires, revised shocks, a new stabilizer bar and spring specifications, and new gearing. The equipment enables cornering capability of up to 1.0 g, as well as a 0.2-second improvement in 0-60-mph acceleration versus the standard LS3-powered models.
Grand Sport coupe models equipped with the manual transmission are outfitted for racetrack competition, too, with a dry-sump oiling system, a differential cooler, and a rear-mounted battery. The manual transmission also comes with specific gear ratios, while automatic models get a modified rear-axle ratio. The Grand Sport also gets Z06-spec brakes that include 13.4-inch rotors with six-piston calipers up front and four-piston calipers in back.
Next in line is the Z06, which brings Corvette owners into supercar territory thanks to its 7.0-liter LS7 V-8 that’s capable of sending the car from 0-60 mph in just 3.7 seconds and see it reach a top speed of 198 mph. The 2010 version retains the 106-inch wheelbase of other Corvette models, as well as the short-long arm suspension and transverse spring design, but rides on all-new wheels, tires, and brakes, as well as its own rear spring and roll stabilizer. Peak output remains at 505 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. Buyers opting for the top-end 3LZ package now get powered sports seats for both driver and passenger.
Thanks to the mammoth amount of torque from either the base LS3 engine or the race-bred LS7, the 2010 Chevy Corvette is enjoyable to drive with the optional automatic but really comes alive with the manual, even though the shift action tends to be overly deliberate and notchy.
Sitting at the top of the ladder is the granddaddy of all Corvettes, the world-beating ZR1 supercar. Still packing a hand-built, supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 with 638 horsepower and 604 pound-feet of torque on tap, the ZR1 will rocket to 60 mph in only 3.4 seconds and blast through the quarter-mile in 11.3 seconds and with a 131-mph trap speed.
The ride of the current six-generation Corvette is vastly superior to previous versions that could best be described as agricultural by comparison. Even the 2010 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 (with its ultra-wide tires) rides well thanks to new tire technology and magnetic ride control. The available levels of performance combined with the compliant ride and overall refinement make these cars all the more special. For the right person, they can be daily transportation. When driven modestly on the highway, fuel economy can reach as high as 30 mpg.
In terms of comfort and quality, the 2010 Corvette has made great strides since the launch of the six-generation in 2005 and the slight update last year. Fit and finish, both inside and out, is solid, though the choice of trim and materials can leave you desiring something a little more premium. The seats are comfortable and provide good support, even on long drives, and during the several hundred miles we've spent behind the wheel, there was barely a squeak or rattle to detect.
For a sports car, visibility in the Corvette is quite good. Additionally, the rear storage provides a surprising amount of room with 22.4 cubic feet of cargo volume in the 2010 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe and a respectable 11 cubic feet of storage in the rear of the Convertible. The drop-top models use a layered fabric roof that isolates the cabin well from wet and cold but lets in a lot of road noise.
Safety is another strong point for the Corvette range. A four-channel ABS system is standard, as are stability and traction control and now front and side airbags as well. Unfortunately, the 2010 model still lacks side curtain airbags, which are usually standard on cars in the same price range as the Corvette.
The 2010 Chevrolet Corvette gets to tap into GM's deep well of tech features. High-end audio and voice-activated navigation systems are available, along with 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. An optional Bose audio system or an in-dash six-disc changer is available, while steering-wheel-mounted audio controls are standard on all models. One last highlight is that the Corvette, despite its supercar credentials, still comes with proper cup holders.