It's late on a Saturday evening when I pull up
to valet park a 2006 Chevrolet Corvette coupe
at a chic downtown restaurant. ROAD &
TRAVEL's test car for the week, painted a
brilliant burnt orange (i.e. metallic sunset,)
is mine for the weekend - and even I don't
know how I got so lucky.
the valet approaches and opens the door my
friend and dinner date, turns to look at me.
entire restaurant is watching us," she
says. Sure enough, many of the patrons have
set down their forks and turned in their seats,
admiring the flame-colored, low riding muscle
car with hungry eyes. Feeling a bit more confidant
than I would if I were in my everyday ride,
we emerge from the vehicle and sashay into
the restaurant, bewitched and bedazzled at
the swanky effect a Corvette can have on two
young women out for the night.
impression: Wow (I could get used to this.)
as the best high-performance value in America,
the Corvette has earned iconic status during
its 53-year stint. The 2006 model, sixth generation,
was all-new for 2005 but has polished itself
even more nicely for the current year with
an impressive 400-horsepower V-8, optional
six-speed Paddle Shift automatic transmission
on standard coupe and convertible and a smoother,
more comfortable ride.
being seen in one alone elicits grand allure,
driving one elicits pure ecstasy. A gentle
tap on the gas pedal and you've leapt ahead
of traffic in the time it takes to blink and
register the speedometer (or head-up display
- standard on Z06, optional in coupe and convertible.)
tooling around town or speeding things up
on the expressway, Corvette is quick yet precise,
controlled yet agile. And nothing quite beats
the windshield view of smooth, open pavement
sandwiched between two sparkling, flared fenders.
the driver is cradled in contoured, leather
seating. A perfectly sized leather-wrapped
steering wheel (dual paddle shifts located
on either side of the cross bar) with easy
manual tilt and power telescoping grants easy
maneuvering with a comfortable grip.
is limited, as is typical in any sports car,
but offers 22 cubic feet of trunk space -
more than most of its competitors. Headroom
is comfortable and legroom is ample enough,
that is, if you can lower yourself to the
pavement-level seating. For some, the slight
discomfort of the lowering-yourself-into-the-seat
move is a small price to pay.
had knee surgery two days earlier, my father
is a testament to this no pain/no gain philosophy.
A former Corvette owner, he set his temporary
cane aside and winced through pain as he crunched
himself into the driver's seat for a closer
look and rush of priceless nostalgia. Once
a Corvette owner, always a Corvette lover.
only a weekend behind the wheel of the sporty
coupe was enough to convert myself into a
17/27 mpg fuel economy kept me distanced from
gas stations for the weekend, so when I pulled
up to refuel early Monday morning, I shared
a moment of sentiment with the Corvette. Cool,
fast and truly envy inducing, it had made
for the ultimate, definitive experience between
consumer and vehicle, something that every
car maker strives to do best. And it's not
news to anyone: Chevrolet has a winning formula
for fun that may have gotten even a bit spicier