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2006 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe

2006 Corvette Road Test Review

by Jessica Howell

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.

As the valet approaches and opens the door my friend and dinner date, turns to look at me.

"The 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.

First impression: Wow (I could get used to this.)

Known 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.

If 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.)

Whether 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.

Inside, 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.

Space 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.

Having 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.

Spending only a weekend behind the wheel of the sporty coupe was enough to convert myself into a die-hard fan.

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 for 2006.

Read more on Corvette in RTM's 2006 Model Guide