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Thursday, 3 January 2013

Strangelove: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Loved the Corvette


It wasn’t red but a very loud yellow and it certainly didn’t look “little” as it stood in the car parking lot next to a Porsche Cayman S or the BMW 335i I had just stepped out from: so much for Prince’s song, then…
It wasn’t a Z06 or (heaven forbid) a ZR1; just a plain-Jane, 430HP Corvette C6 coupe. Despite never having driven America’s supercar before, I grabbed the Cayman's keys before you could say “Vette”.

I had a three-hour trip ahead of me, half of it on twisty mountain roads, and I figured I would be much better off with Zuffenhausen’s best-handling car than something with leaf springs in its suspension.

Corvette C5

Corvette C5

Corvette C5

Corvette C5

Corvette C5


All U.S.-made cars this European had driven up until this point ranged from mildly disappointing to the utterly rubbish. My self-preservation instinct beat my curiousness. Better to stick with what I know is a capable, lithe coupe that’s happy to be flung around at corners than take any chances. Besides, night was falling and I could always drive the Corvette another day.

Slotting the key into the Cayman's Porsche-trademark position left of the steering wheel and firing up the flat-six reassured me about my choice. The Cayman was as straight-up as it could be: three dials ahead of me, without an utterly distracting infotainment system, a supportive and at the same time comfortable seat and… is that a Tiptronic auto gearbox?

Now, I like auto transmissions as much as the next guy, as long as they are a.) smooth and quick-shifting and b.) not in a sports car. The Tiptronic was the bane of Porsche's cars and when the PDK arrived it was not a moment too soon.

The colleague driving the Corvette right behind me happily obliged when I asked him to switch cars after a few miles. Apparently, he wasn’t too impressed.

Neither was I when I stepped in. My kids’ toys probably had better plastics than those on the ‘Vette’s interior, the leather looked nasty and the placing of most controls had me guessing. If I was looking for a starker contrast to the Porsche’s premium cabin, I had hit the bull’s eye.

Fire it up, then slot the not-so-slick six-speed manual gearbox into first, ease up the clutch, give it some revs and…Whoa! Now we’re talking. I have driven more powerful cars in the past but Detroit's “no replacement for displacement” motto suddenly flashes up in my mind brighter than the ESP light indicating the electronics striving to keep the V8’s torque at bay.

The steering wheel has me guessing about what the front wheels are doing and the suspension leaves something to be desired in terms of body control. There are simply too many things that make this car inferior to its much more polished European rivals, yet they somehow seem to matter less and less with each passing mile.

Why is that? Because when I flex my right foot, no matter what gear I’m in, it responds with a solid wall of sound and acceleration that makes for pure fun.

Nearly 200 miles later I pull up outside my home. It is way past midnight and it’s been a very long and tiring day yet the adrenalin that is flowing from my glands keeps me alert. The 6.2-liter V8 is burbling at idle. Reluctantly, I turn the key, grab my stuff and open the door. The sound of the hot, tickling metal bids me goodnight.

Next morning my firstborn sees the yellow car in the garage and his jaw drops to the ground. When I drop him off, his school mates are gawping, too. As I leave, I blip the throttle to give them a taste of what American iron sounds like.

I look in the rear-view mirror and see them smile and cheer. It puts a smile on my face too, which is something I’d never guessed it could do just a few hours ago.

Articles Source : Carscoop

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