Answers, Part Two - As Well As Me Being Stoned to Death - 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Long-Term Road Test

2002 Chevrolet Corvette Long Term Road Test

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2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: Answers, Part Two - As Well As Me Being Stoned to Death

March 02, 2011


More than a few a you asked whether or not I would buy a C5 Z06 and how it compares to either a new Mustang or an E46 M3. Well, here it goes...

To buy a Corvette, you have to want a Corvette. Bear with me, because unless you own a C5 Z06, this might not make a lot of sense.


Let's face it, you're buying a C5 Z06 for the hardware. While you might like the exterior styling, it's the allure of 405 horsepower LS6 that gets you in the door. What you see when you walk through that door will determine whether or not you buy that 'vette. For one, the car is low. This is not a sedan based coupe; it's built to be be low and you will be sitting on the floor. If you're not sure you want that, try to sit on your couch, but instead, miss and wind up on the floor. That's what it's like get in and out of a Corvette.

Along with the lowness of it, and this must be mentioned, is the styling - both inside and out. To buy a Corvette, you have to want that long, low shape and the overhangs that go with it. Fit and finish, especially for a fiberglass body, is very good but it can look like a caricature of a sports car if you're not completely enamored. Can you be seen driving a Corvette? Yes or no.

As far as the interior, you'll have to be willing to step back in time once you sit in the car. This is the old GM. And while it's not the Playskool interior that plagued the 4th Gen F-Body, the myriad of shapes and pieces (not to mention the AC Delco radio) will put a lot of people off... immediately. You already know about the seats and the oversized steering wheel, so I won't cover those, but just know that you must sit in one before you make your mind up to buy one. You'll either be able to see past it, or you'll walk away. There is no middle ground.

Would I buy this over an E46 M3? Honestly, and I do mean this, it depends on the day of the week. The C5 Z06 has the brute power the likes of which the E46 M3 will never know. It's crushing and visceral. The Z06 also happens to lack precision. It's the wrecking ball to the M3's laser beam. But what the M3 lacks in power, it makes up for in agility and accessibility of its performance. While I can have fun in a Z06, I can drive an E46 M3. I think it boils down to a matter of trust. I can trust what an M3 is doing, up to and beyond its limits. I cannot say the same about a Z06, at least not on a public road. Do I want to play Warren Johnson or do I want to play Hans Stuck?

Some of you asked about the new Mustang 5.0, so what about it? I already know I'm going to be stoned to death for saying this but I think it's the perfect cross between the C5 Z06 and the E46 M3. For starters, you get the brutish power of the Z06 - not to mention the noise - of an American V8, but you also get the sedan based ease of use as well as some of the precision of the M3. The Mustang sits like a normal car and has a normal trunk as well as back seats. And while it has a live-axle, which you will notice the moment you exit Ford's proving grounds, it is still fairly precise and communicative. In my limited time with our 5.0, I can say I've driven it harder and more aggressively than I have our Z06.

What would I say if you bought a C5 Z06? Awesome.

What would I say if you bought an E46 M3? Awesome.

What would I say if you bought a Mustang 5.0? Awesome.

Which one would you put in your garage?

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 52,332 miles

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