2002 Chevrolet Corvette Long Term Road Test


2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: How It Drives Versus a 2008 C6

January 04, 2011

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Last week after my exhaust video a reader asked the following: "Are there any significant differences in the dynamics of the Z06 and the 2008 Corvette? Since the newer car has more horsepower than the C5 Z06, does that translate into a more eager throttle response, or are they so similar that it's more or less the same? How is the nine year old Z06 in regard to solidity and feel compared to the newer car? I really intend to purchase a Corvette, but I'm debating if be wiser to save some dinero and get a clean 2003-2004 C5 or pony up the funds to get a C6?"

I had hoped to give the cars another back-to-back drive last week, but it rained constantly. Thankfully, the skies cleared today and it was time for some Corvette exercise. My thoughts follow after the jump.

Dynamics: In terms of acceleration, the two Corvettes are very comparable. They feel about the same from seat-of-the-pants, and we've tested our Z06 plus a wide variety of C6s and gotten similar results. I do prefer our Z06's throttle response, though, as it seems a bit more responsive.

vette_drive2.JPG There is a noticeable difference in terms of handling and steering. I drove the Z06 first on a curvy road route I knew wasn't going to be Corvette friendly -- it's narrow and bumpy. As expected, the Z06 just felt slow, heavy and wide. It just doesn't inspire much confidence. Put it on a racetrack and it'd be a lot happier.

Up to a point, the 2008 gives a similar vibe. But it ultimately fares considerably better thanks to more responsive and informative steering. Suspension compliance is better, too. I will note that my car has an aftermarket seat, however, which helps quite a bit. And our 2002 could very well be stuck with its original dampers.

Integrity: I'm not sure how fair it is to compare a 2002 with 55,000 miles and a 2008 with just 7,000 miles, but for what it's worth the 2008 felt considerably more solid. No squeaks, no rattles, way better interior design and better ride quality. It just feels more like a real car rather than something cobbled together.

The price gap between a 2002 Z06 and a 2008 C6 coupe is significant. Base Edmunds TMV dealer is $18,637 for the Z06 and $30,381 for the C6. Even so, I would encourage anybody looking at C6 Corvettes to consider getting a 2008 or newer. I think the changes made that year (engine, steering, interior) were all very significant and worthwhile. Between a late C5 Z06 or a 2005-2007 C6, the C5 Z06 would probably get my nod. It's just a cooler car and will provide better performance.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 55,378 miles

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