April 11, 2011
The sky is blue, water is wet, and yep, the Z06 is a hoot when you're leaning on it. Whether that means enjoying that bellowing, guttural exhaust while blasting up a few gears, giving it a hearty rev-matching blip while you grab a lower cog or taking advantage of a nearly deserted, increasing-radius on-ramp, it's all the same -- almost too much fun.
But ya know, the Z06 makes a fine day tripper ride too. Taking on L.A.'s "no-budget-for-road-maintenance", bombed-out streets (have you driven over La Cienega lately?!), this low-slung, performance-focused super 'vette doesn't beat you up but rather provides a surprisingly supple ride over the bumps and ruts. And once liberated from that crap, there's not much better on a warm SoCal day than a trip up and down the PCH, kicked back cruising in a Z06 with the windows down and a Beach Boys CD fittingly accompanied by the titanium exhaust's background track.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 58,600 miles.
April 08, 2011
The other day I left the office at a near-peak traffic hour, and as I trundled my way onto the congested highway I was kicking myself for making two grave mistakes: The first was my poorly-planned time to head home. The second was my car choice for the night, our 2002 Corvette Z06.
Probably not the best vehicle with which to be putt-putting between 0-20 mph, right?
You'd think a car with 405 horsepower and gobs of torque would require a pretty manly clutch. While the Z06's does require more force than your average third pedal these days, it's really not a big deal, and by the time I got home my left foot was only slightly tired after lots and lots (and lots) of clutch pedal pushing. Yes, I have a long commute.
Also helping the slow-driving situation is that the clutch has an intuitive engagement point, and the throttle delivery is spot-on. It's so simple that you hardly need any revs at all to get moving. The balky six-speed shifter is the one real sore point, making you not want to shift to second if it's possible to carry first for a ways; especially if you're just going to slow right back down again.
Not once did the Skip-Shift feature try to send me from first to fourth.
Long story short: Even though the Z06 seems like it would be a beast during rush hour, it's actually perfectly at ease. Plus, it's great fun to stand on the right pedal and let the big V8 rip when there's any kind of opening in traffic.
Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 58,458 miles.
March 29, 2011
In case you haven't heard, Riverside International Raceway closed in 1988. But don't worry, there is a museum (more on that later) that will give you an idea as to what the track was and what it meant to a generation of racers, worldwide.
Anyway, for the 140 mile round trip to and from the museum, I drew the Z06 card. As easy as it is to drive in stop and go traffic, it is just that much easier on an open highway. With the shorter gearing (shorter than your standard C5) sixth gear becomes a very usable overdrive gear; if you need more rapid acceleration, fourth gear is just two blips away.
As capable as these cars are on track, they are amazingly adept at eating up open highway.
Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 58,230 miles
February 28, 2011
Since more than a few of you wanted some impressions of our Z06's LS6, here it goes.
This motor, because this is the best word to use, is awesome. You can leave your "pushrods are low-tech" argument outside because it's as old as, well, almost as old as the overhead cam engine. The LS6 is a marvel. Not only for its raw power but because it's so flexible; allowing you to drive any gear from just off idle all the way to redline without so much as a hiccup or lack of power. While it's true this motor is a monster on the top end, that doesn't mean it's lacking under four grand. Quite the contrary. This car, as are all C5 Corvettes, is a breeze in stop and go traffic. Don't like shifting? No problem. Second gear goes from five to 45 miles an hour and third will go from 10 to north of 70.
Getting back to that whole top end thing, over five grand this motor is an animal. It's not psychotic in the way the new Z06 is (it's the only car that's actually scared me), but it still has a tick over 400 horsepower. 400. Horsepower. Don't get all jaded and act like that isn't a lot, because it is. With the traction control off, you'll break the back tires lose at 40 (I did that) and you'll rip past 120 miles per hour (I never did that) before you can stop swearing. And the noise...
If all motors were like this, the world would be a better place.
Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 52,290 miles
February 03, 2011
Hey, we finally got a Recaro driver seat for our Z06! It offers plenty of support to keep you tight and secure when you're attacking a curvy road. No more Mr. Floppy Seat here! Plus, it looks great and takes only a few seconds to install.
The only problem is that you have to weigh 30 to 100 pounds to use it, have Dora the Explorer as your favorite TV show, eat Cheerios out of a lidded plastic cup and yell "I Don't Want To!" when it's nap time.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor
January 24, 2011
There's no denying our 2002 Corvette Z06 is an absolute blast to drive. But would you want to live with it as a daily driver (not including winter time for those in snowy climes)? It's one thing to take the Z06 home once or twice a week, as happens here at Inside Line, but what if you needed to drive it every day? Would you still love it so much?
Every once in a while, I'm not so sure. It's not the actual driving part that would bother me; no, the Z06, other than a slightly balky shifter, is actually quite easy to drive, even in stop-and-go traffic. And those seats are fairly comfortable, at least when you aren't sliding out of them due to the complete lack of lateral support.
It's the '02-era interior that annoys, which, let's be honest, was outdated even back in '02. Certain things are severely lacking, such as cubbies of any kind. For instance, there's basically no place to put your loose odds and ends; you know, a phone or two, sunglasses, digital camera or, sit down for this one: even a drink. That cupholder is worse than the Dodge Viper's (I never thought I'd say that) at actually holding cups. Anything I've put in that shallow space, whether it be a water bottle, cell phone or my Edmunds I.D./parking garage passkey, goes flying across the car at even the first sight of a turn. Which means everything has to be stuffed into the small center armrest.
January 11, 2011
There are cars that make you want to shift just for the sake of shifting, because they do it so well. Cars like the Mazda MX-5 Miata and Honda S2000 come to mind, both possessing super-short throws and ultra-positive gates.
Our long-term Corvette Z06, with its long, notchy (and sticky, in the lower gears) throws, isn't a car about which you're likely to hear the phrase: "Goes through the gears like a hot knife through butter." But you still want to work its 6-speed manual as much as possible anyway. Why?
Because every time you downshift and stab the throttle for that appropriate throttle blip and accompanying smooth clutch release, you get to hear one of the angriest engine notes ever. A 5.7-liter V8 with an aggressive-from-the-factory exhaust has that effect. It's music to an enthusiast's ear, and you don't care one bit about the balky shifter; you just want any excuse to downshift so you can belt out another raunchy yelp from the pushrod V8.
January 04, 2011
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.
December 24, 2010
Yesterday it was time to deliver some homemade Christmas cookies to some friends scattered around town. My wife gave me five plates to drop off. It was the perfect excuse to give the Z06 some exercise; yesterday was finally dry after days of nonstop rain. In a plain-jane vehicle, driving around town for a couple hours would have been a disheartening chore. But with 405 hp at my disposal, I was grinning all afternoon.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor
December 13, 2010
After spending Saturday with the 2011 Explorer, I spent Sunday with our long-term 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06. Apart from liking the new tires and the fact that they have actual grip, I remembered how much I like the seating position in our Z06.
Not the seat. The seating position. You sit low in the Corvette (as if you could do anything but) in a slightly reclined position that feels very natural. Yet, you can still over the dash easily, and around the slender A-pillars and out the back window. This is all as it should be in a sports car, but I worry this might not transfer over to the next Corvette.
I worry because of the Camaro. Yes, it uses different platform architecture and is now more of a GT than a sportscar, but it was also designed in modern times where pedestrian protection and frontal/side-impact requirements are all getting more stringent not less.
So I think it won't be easy to design the next Corvette with a low cowl (or even a low stance), thin pillars and a not-too-tall rear deck. But I do hope Chevrolet's designers are trying to preserve this seating position, because it's really very good. It's just the seats that are the problem.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 54,858 miles
December 09, 2010
The other day I had the 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and was grabbing some coffee with a friend before hitting the road. Problem is that we had two cups of coffee between us and only half a "cupholder" in the car, which is fine for when you're driving straight but forget about it if there are turns involved.
Seriously though, is that supposed to be a cupholder or just for holding parking garage access cards, sunglasses and/or keys?
This reminds me of how Europeans make fun of Americans and our need for cupholders. Or more recently the Fiat designer noted that Europeans drive their cars while Americans live in their cars. Maybe in case you miss the part about the 5.7-liter LS6 V8, this is Chevy's way of saying the Vette is a driver's car?
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor
December 08, 2010
Last night, while working my left leg repeatedly as I battled L.A.'s perpetual gridlock on my way home (we're talking 45" for a 6-mile commute), I couldn't help thinking what a waste my potentially last time in the Z06 would be. Today, while looking for some automotive inspiration, I realized it was a mere 18" away on my desk -- the Z06's keys. The window of opportunity for open roads in these parts is pretty small. So I decided to blow out the cobwebs from my mind and some carbon from the 'vette's big V8. Two birds and all that.
Let's just say the radio was off and the windows were down the whole time. What a blast this car is -- I still can't believe all this fun cost us just $20,000.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 54,780 miles
November 22, 2010
With the garage time the Z06 has spent over the last month of so, it's been a while since I've been behind the wheel. And it's kind of a shock.
I'd forgotten just how noisy this car is. You hear everything. The rattle of the valve gear. The metallic grind in the shift linkage. The thwack as the clutch in the transaxle behind your hip engages. The awful unrelenting roar of road noise echoing in the cargo area, especially now that the Corvette has some tires with actual tread pattern.
You can hear every little thing. It's pretty much the same experience when the dump truck picks up in the alley behind your place, every little mechanical noise amplified a million times, as if you were wearing the sound like a wool hat pulled over your head. The Corvette is a total dump truck.
But after running a tank of gas through the Z06, I'm back in the same place as before, appreciating this car's uniquely poised balance between everyday practicality and incredible speed. It's amazing just how quickly you can get used to stuff.
The Z06 might be a dump truck, but it's a fast dump truck.
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 53,666 miles.
October 25, 2010
I have to second Erin's praise regarding the Vette's steering wheel. Its driver seat is a bean bag and its cabin aesthetic is a surrender to mediocrity, but man, did GM get it right when designing this car's steering wheel.
It feels comfortable in my hands, and it's just the sort of big, imposing wheel that a big, imposing car like the Vette deserves. It's a perfect match for the car's mellifluous, rumbling baritone.
Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor
October 01, 2010
Have you ever tried to look cool, only to have something embarrassing happen? It was my turn yesterday.
Since many of our editors are out for the Paris Auto Show, I had the opportunity to drive the Z06 home yesterday. It was my first time in the car, and I wanted to feel the wind in my hair and listen to the roar of the engine. So I turned off the radio, rolled down the widows and hung my elbow out the side. I noticed that the A/C was on, but it was a nice day, so I shut that off too. My cruising didn't last very long.
When I pulled up to a red light, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. The weather strip on the door had come loose and was hanging half way out the window. Hoping that no one saw me, I quickly tried to stick it back in place. A few blocks later, the weather strip popped out again and I realized this was a battle I wasn't going to win without a tube of rubber cement. I put the strip back in place one more time, rolled the windows up, and turned on the A/C. So much for looking cool.
-Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate
September 23, 2010
I don't mean this in the "that's a nice car, dude" sense (though it is). But rather literally, that this supercar has a relatively nice ride. That statement should carry some weight coming from me given my sometimes sensitive, ornery back. The bugger went out on me last month not while I was running a 5k, playing tennis or working out, but just when I reached into the fridge at work. Happens every few years, but I digress.
So yep, unlike the Corvettes of yore, this one has a fairly supple, dare I say comfortable, ride quality. And this sentiment is all the more impressive in light of two more factors:
1) This is a Z06, the (at the time) ultra-high-performance version of the Corvette
2) Here in L.A. we can lay claim to not only the nation's worst traffic but also the second crappiest roads. Talk about an acid test.
Were it not for its Dachshund-like ground clearance and resulting occasional air dam/underbody scrapes (see various previous blog entries), I'd be perfectly happy with the Z06 as a daily driver.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 51,513 miles
September 20, 2010
Yes, we already know that our Corvette has a tendency to scrape its air deflector on just about every driveway, dip and speedbump. It's just part of driving a low car with a long overhang. When it makes that plastic-on-asphalt dragging noise, passing pedestrians always seem to look at me like I'm abusing the poor car. But c'mon, I'm being as careful as I can, trying to go slowly and at angles that will minimize the contact.
This weekend, I discovered a Corvette noise that's even worse...
My neighbor's tree is lifting a part of my driveway, right where it meets the sidewalk. It's not much of a peak, but it's just enough to SCRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAPPPE the undertray in the middle of the wheelbase. It sounded like I was ripping pieces of fiberglass off. Reluctantly, I checked for damage, but there was none. The scraping came from a steel frame element, thankfully. For the remainder of the weekend, I drove the 'Vette halfway over my lawn to avoid the offending concrete slab. I hope my landlord doesn't mind.
September 17, 2010
It shouldn't be possible to drive the 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 up the San Diego freeway to Santa Monica during morning rush hour, but I keep doing it. It's a little like using a 200-mph rocket to go to the grocery store.
And yet for all the fretting that people do about creeping through stop-and-go traffic in a piece of high-performance machinery with a manual transmission, it's actually pretty easy make such a thing happen in the Z06. That's because this car has great pedals.
First of all, what you need is a set of pedals lined up ahead of you rather than offset to one side like in some bad front-wheel-drive car (or a Dodge Viper). The pedals also have to be far away enough so you can operate them with just some ankle action instead of clumsy leg movements, which is the key to a precise touch on the pedals with your feet (as I was reminded the other day while reading a driving instruction book by Vic Elford, the former Porsche racer of the 1960s and 1970s).
But you also need a car with great pedal action, and here the '02 Corvette really delivers.
First, the action of the throttle pedal is long and the response from the engine is linear, so there are no surprises from the engine room at low speed. Yes, the effort is a little heavy, but it works in your favor.
Second, it's easy to modulate your brake inputs at commute speed because the brake pedal responds mostly to pressure rather than long travel action. (Actually racers prefer the same sort of thing at high speed, too.) You also have brake pads that bite smoothly and don't increase their friction properties too quickly. (German cars are noted for a swift rise in brake friction, something meant to compensate for the brake fade you might get during a stop from autobahn-type speed.)
Finally, you have a clutch that can transfer power with such refinement that you can creep at 2 mph without worrying about burning up the friction material over the course of a 90-minute commute. (A nice big V8 engine with strong flywheel effect helps, of course.) At this the Corvette is brilliant, more evidence of the way it's been developed to span the gap between practicality and performance.
It's easy to take this sort of refinement for granted, but the challenge of city driving in a high-performance car is exactly what held back Ferrari sales in America until the development of the single-clutch automated manual transmission for the Ferrari 360 Modena. Indeed Chic Vandergrif at Hollywood Sport Cars even once threatened to undertake his own program of adopting a torque-convertor automatic transmission to the front-engine 1976 Ferrari 400 in order to force Enzo Ferrari into starting his own program. Now, of course, the availability of a Getrag dual-clutch automated manual has driven the take rate for manual transmissions on Ferraris to less than 10 percent.
As it turns out, the 2011 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is actually much easier to drive in traffic than the '02 model thanks to the light-effort shift action of its updated Tremec six-speed manual (although the 2011 car's light-effort, non-linear throttle action is worse). It's a bigger challenge to drive the Mazdaspeed 3 in traffic because the pedals are too close, the clutch snaps into full engagement too abruptly, and the light, non-linear action of the throttle pedal works in concert with the surges from the engine's big turbo to make the whole process a nightmare.
You wouldn't think that you'd learn anything from driving a car this fast so slowly, but it's a reminder that stab-it-and-steer-it is just no way to drive a car, whether you're going fast or slow.
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com
September 06, 2010
It's not the work of a moment to drive home in a Z06. You don't jump into it as if it were a Hyundai Accent and dive into rush-hour traffic.
You kind of have to mentally prepare yourself as you go down into the parking garage. Get ready to climb down into the thing. Be ready for the general lack of visibility. Be ready for the agricultural shift action. Be ready to hold the reins pretty tight.
Then you see the 2009 Dodge Viper and you're grateful. At least the Z06 can make it home in commute traffic and you can pretend it fits into civilian life. With the Viper, there's no pretending. It's the size of a tugboat and there will be no stops at the drive-thru ATM, the dry cleaners and the grocery store on the way home.
At least you can drive a Corvette. At least it's not a Viper.
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 50,520 miles
August 27, 2010
On my drive home last night I enjoyed listening to the different tones of the Corvette's exhaust note. It was like hearing an actor run through different emotional ranges. As soon as you turn the key you get a pulse-quickening rumble, kind of like distant thunder. That, combined with the dancing gauge needles, gets the adrenaline flowing nicely. Any time you give it a burst of power there's a snarl in response, kind of like a pit bull waking up and giving a "back off" growl.
But the fun really begins when the tachometer climbs over 3500 rpm. Chevy tuners must have used the trunk as a sounding board because the whole back end of the Corvette begins vibrating. I'd call them good vibrations. So it all set me to wondering, if the Z06 was an actor, who would it be?
Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 50,624 miles
August 27, 2010
So my racer friend Bill Cooper is trying to con me into going all the way to Montana for the Pioneer Mountains Hill Climb on 11-12 September, where he's going to be running his semi-race Corvette C5.
So I'm asking him about the way his C5 is prepared (gosh, the engine appears to be making a lot of noise for a stock V8, Mr. Cooper), and naturally this leads us to talking about the driver seat, which our guys here complain bitterly about.
Cooper allows that he thought about putting a racing seat in his car, but he came to his senses pretty quickly. First of all, he says that it wouldn't be much fun sitting in a hard shell of a seat during the long rally-type events that he's run. And second, a seat with tall thigh bolsters would be just about impossible to get into, as the car's wide, wide door sill plus the seat bolsters would be an impossible barrier.
It's easy to criticize this car for its La-Z-boy seat, but we forget that the Corvette's primary structure lies in its wide door sills, the design feature that lets the car sit so close to the ground. And as much as we criticize this car's seat for its lack of support in the corners, its recliner-style shape and padding are crucial to our ability to drive this car every day without facing a gymnastics challenge every time we get behind the wheel.
Would love to drive our Z06 all the way to Polaris, Montana, for Cooper's hillclimb (could even run it in the event, he says), but the travel distance seems like a lot for 12 miles of racing. At least it's a reminder of the kind of thing you're supposed to do if you own a Corvette, especially a Z06.
Finally I ask Cooper what he's going to do with his stock seat, which he has fit with a six-point racing harness. "Pretty much what you do in any race car," he says. "Just cinch down the belts tight and hang on."
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 50,564 miles.
August 19, 2010
It's amazing how on the ball General Motors was with steering wheel design back in 2002 (compared to, say, 2010). The wheel in our long-term 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 isn't much to look at and even looks dowdy compared to today's 3-spoke designs, but is it ever functional.
The spokes are nice and low to allow a 9-and-3 grip if you so choose. And the rim of the wheel is nice and round, neither too thick nor thin, and devoid of the decorative stitching that rubs on the fingers.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 50,405 miles
June 18, 2010
Of the cars in the long-term fleet right now, I think we could all agree that the Z06 ranks near the bottom for long-distance freeway driving comfort. Editor James Riswick best described the driver seat as "a squishy and formless seat [that] feels like it's lived its life under the butt of a 350-pound man named Walt." The considerable and constant tire roar from the rear is complemented by what sounds like small arms fire when you drive over pavement cracks and tar strips. There's no interior storage, satellite radio or auxiliary audio jack. Oh, however did people tolerate the torture of driving cars eight years ago?
Well, maybe it's just not that bad. Magrath drove it to Monterey and back and came out loving the thing. As for me, I did a 4.5-hour freeway drive last night. It wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible either. I didn't have any CDs with me, so I ended up listening to the radio at points where I decided my ears could tolerate both music and road noise. Classic rock (Van Halen, Led Zeppelin) seems to suit the car's character. And most other motorists seem to give this car some respect when you come up behind them. That's right, American Muscle here. Get your cruise-control-set Camry out of the way, please.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor
June 09, 2010
It was a pretty oppressive commute last night. The 10 Freeway was bumper to bumper, making my 8-mile commute take about an hour. Still, the Vette held up pretty well. After I exited the freeway, though, th shifter started giving me a little grief.
When a traffic signal went green, I tried slipping the shifter from neutral to first. Nope, it was having none of it. I dropped it into second gear easily, then tried to ease it into first again. Nope. So rather than suffer the wrath of the impatient drivers behind me, I rolled out in second gear. Further down the road, at another traffic light, it dropped right into first with no problem. But the shift from first to second posed a similar issue. It wasn't a skip-shift situation, either. It just flat out refused to engage second gear. Ok, fine, third gear it is.
My old SVT Cobra had the same problem, but I attributed that to abuse on the racetrack and a Hurst short-shifter I had installed. I'm guessing this is just wear and tear on the Z06, though, since other Vettes I've driven of this vintage we're fine when they were new.
Has anybody else out there had this problem?
Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor @ 48,515 miles
June 07, 2010
OK, stick-in the mud warning here. It's pretty incredible to think we could get a Z06 for $20,000, particularly one that still goes and sounds as good as this one. Whenever the little niggling details about this car started to get on my nerves over the weekend, planting the throttle seemed to do the trick, adjusting my attitude if not the car's as well.
But I do hold those niggling details against our Corvette Z06 -- so much so that it wouldn't be a good deal for me no matter how tantalizing the price. Yeah, the disintegrating interior is part of it, but it's also the steering, which feels like it's at the same heavy effort level at every speed yet is still low on feedback. I never feel like I'm tuned into what's going on with this car, and I feel like that's not too much to ask even for just $20 grand.
And although the packaging of the car may be something to marvel over from a performance standpoint, it makes for a cramped cockpit with almost no storage space. There is, at least, some room for cargo in the generously proportioned Corvette butt.
I'm about to complain about the ride, too, but I'm going to hold that one until we replace the Goodyear F1 Supercar tires, which are just about done. With fresh new tires, I might very well be able to cross this one off my bellyaching list.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 48,495 miles
May 25, 2010
I was in a rush coming from the grocery store. I didn't want to eat dinner at 8 and what I was planning took two hours to cook. I had to get a move on.
I swung open the door to our ZO6 with five plastic bags worth of groceries in hand and tried to slide it. Instant pain in the ass. Literally. No, not trying to handle the groceries and getting into the car at the same time, that damn massive seat bolster. I smacked my tail bone right on it trying to get in!
I rolled over the seat both laughing and crying. I'm not the first victim of this thing, but I am the latest and probably the most in pain. The bolster is nice when you're in the seat, but ridiculously big and in the way while trying to get in.
I got dinner finished in time but I still wasn't totally comfortable so I took a siesta. My lady came home and saw me laying face down on the bed. After I explained what happened she busted out laughing right in my face.
Awesome. That's love right there.
Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer
May 24, 2010
Yep, that's our Long Term 2002 Chevy Corvette Z06 parked in the Corvette Corral at this weekends Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca ALMS race. I didn't register for the Corral, but managed to sneak into (read: They saw I had a corvette and put me here without the super-special green pass) anyway.
Including a couple of pointless excursions and a getting lost 2,658 times while in Monterey, I put 909.1 miles on the Z06 during 16 hours and 15 minutes of seat time. Average MPH was 55.9. And during that time I averaged a staggering 22.6 mpg with a best of 25.9 and a worst of 20.3. 20.3! With 405 horsepower! And me behind the wheel, lost in a strange little town...awesome.
But beyond the numbers, I really fell for our Corvette during this trip. Road noise at freeway speeds over California's crummy concrete gets old, but everything else was an absolute blast. The shifter is deliberate and the pedals take some effort, but put them together and you're rewarded with a noise...oh the noise... let's just say that after a few hours hearing Corvette C6Rs and their E85-fueled 5.5L V8s thunder around, I was still grinning when our Z06 roared.
Would I want more supportive seats? Sure. But consider this: I sat on a shoehorn for 4 hours-- 4 hours! -- and had no idea. Now that, friends, is comfort.
Give it an iPod hookup and this is, hands down, the best car in our fleet. Period.
Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 47,931 miles
May 17, 2010
I almost didn't take our 2002 Chevrolet Corvette home for the weekend because as much as I have fun driving it, it's kind of a pain on city streets. The Vette is just too big for this city. There. I said it.
So all weekend, I ended up parking in spots far away from my intended destinations since those were the only spaces roomy enough to accommodate it. And never mind that its front end dips down so I can't really see where it ends and I fear that I'll scrape or bump it into the car parked in front of me. In the above picture I thought I was a lot closer to the car in front of me than I actually was.
If this were a city of free parking lots or I didn't have an aversion to valet, my only issue with its size would really come up when driving down residential streets. With cars parked on the sides and other cars coming the other way, I instinctively hold my breath and squeeze my arms into my sides as if that will magically make the Vette smaller so I can get by this oncoming car unscathed. Then I realize I'm doing that and instead move the car as close as I can to the side and wait until the other car gets by me. Almost as worrisome as driving a truck.
Just for giggles I looked up the dimensions of a 2010 Porsche 911, which actually seats 4 (2 adults and 2 kids, really).
2010 Porsche 911 -- Length: 175.6 in. Width: 71.2 in.
2002 Chevy Corvette -- Length: 179.7 in. Width: 73.6 in.
The Porsche has managed to package a working backseat into less overall length than the Corvette.
In any case, for me the Vette is not a practical, everyday urban runabout. Traveling open highways and byways? Definitely. Rushing to meet a friend for lunch in the heart of West Hollywood? Nuh uh.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 46,958 miles
May 10, 2010
Every time you crawl into the seat of this aging Corvette, the leather squeaks and groans like you're getting into your dad's old recliner, the one down there in the basement in front of the used-up TV from the 1980s. Whatever the high-tech environment of the modern sports car is meant to be, sleekly designed and ergonomically correct, the Corvette is the opposite.
Which is exactly the point.
The Corvette is meant to be as familiar as that old leather recliner, although maybe a patch of duct tape on the upholstery might be going a bit too far. It's a sports car, not a piece of art. Especially as a used car, all the pretense has been dropped, which has always been the most objectionable part of the whole Corvette thing anyway.
April 29, 2010
Last night I had my first chance in the Corvette Z06. My first impression is that it feels older than it is. It's only a 2002. That's newer than my personal car, but it feels well used.
I'm glad, however, that the original owner got his money's worth while owning it. I feel bad for my car at times when I pass it in the garage and walk over to a Corvette instead. A car should be driven.
Here are my general first impressions:
Spooling through our underground garage, I kept triggering the traction light, so I figured I better calm down. I wasn't going fast but all of those turns drove the Vette crazy.
But I left the office late and traffic had settled down. I sat at the light at the top of the freeway entrance and smiled. The empty road looked out enticingly before me and I was sitting on the back of a bull. The car shook with anticipation. This Vette really moves.
The shifter takes some muscle. No light little German shifting in this baby. The distance from first to second seems like a yard. But you connect to it and really feel you are in command of the car. It's very satisfying.
Much to my dismay, I discovered our Vette has that damn 1-4 skip shift feature. It took me by surprise after I exited the freeway. I really dislike that and the car doesn't seem to like it either. After that I just held onto first until the light went out. I like feeling that travel from first to second.
This morning's commute was the complete opposite. I even left late to avoid the rush. But the travel gods were against me and I got stuck at every red light on every hill possible. But this Corvette doesn't roll back much, which is nice. I expected an 8-year-old car to go into backwards freefall.
Like the shifter, the clutch requires some muscle. Good thing I had all of those ballet lessons. By the time I got to the office, my calf had a good workout and my left foot was actually getting numb from the pedal. But small price to pay for such a great ride.
I apologize, I forgot to take a picture. The one above is by Kurt Niebuhr.
Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor
April 27, 2010
After coming to the end of an hour-and-a-half drive, my fiancee declared her opinion of our long-term Corvette Z06: "It just feels beat up."
I thought about it and had to concur. The Z06 indeed feels like a beat up super car -- partly because it has more than 46,000 miles on the clock and partly (possibly mostly) because that's just how C5 Corvettes are.
You open the door, it creaks. And then it won't stay in place. You sit in the squishy formless seat and it feels like it's lived its life under the butt of a 350-pound man named Walt. You roll down the window and the entire door panel flexes inward. You open the trunk using air pressure. Almost every interior panel is misaligned, hard, hollow, cheaply grained or have nasty flashing on its edges. The center console cubby door struggles to open. Monumental amounts of road noise pour into the cabin from the trunk.
So it feels like a beat up super car, but it's still a super car. You sit practically on the pavement like in a super car. The view over the long, wide hood is pretty indicative of a super car. The look may not be Gallardo-like, but I still think the C5 looks pretty bitchin'. The growl of engine and exhaust? The power? Those goes without saying.
So our Z06 feels beat up, but given its price, maybe you could tolerate that if it was just your weekend car. After all, what one man considers flaws are what another calls "character."
James Riswick, Automotive Editor
April 08, 2010
So I recently commented on how easy it is to get comfortable in the Mazdaspeed 3. And the Z06? Well, it takes a little more wrangling of the controls. I've set the memory several times, but someone always screws it up by the time I get in it again.
So last night, I get in and everything feels screwy. A twist of the knob here, a pull of a lever there and the Corvette slowly started to get comfortable. I still can't decide which notch in the tilt steering I prefer, but you know, once you're situated it's not a bad place to be.
Sure, the seat itself is too soft, but I like the view and the proximity of the controls. The pedals feel right and the shifter feels really solid, like you can rip shifts all day and never feel like you're hurting the thing. And isn't ripping gears what this car is about? Yes, yes it is.
Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 45, 037 miles
April 08, 2010
Our long-term Corvette Z06 hit 45,000 miles yesterday. This was after I'd spent over 200 miles in the car and I'm happy to report all systems are functional...mostly.
The trunk release that doesn't actually release continues to annoy me, the always-shifty shifter feel is disappointing, and the 7/8 scale seats that don't fully support adult human bodies are a travesty. But it's still a powerful and capable performance machine that can smoke the majority of performance machines on the road, even those that are newer and more expensive.
This Z06 reminds me of two Corvette trademarks. First, the basic platform is excellent, but the execution of the details leaves something to be desired. This fact leads to the second point: GM's "sports car" has always been, and will probably always be, more of a two-seat muscle car than a true sports car in the traditional sense of that word.
Karl Brauer, Edmunds.com Editor in Chief @ 45,000 miles
April 05, 2010
So I had our 2002 Chevrolet Corvette this weekend and I couldn't figure out how to switch the display from showing coolant temperature to the tripmeter...
Just kidding. I know you guys were looking to read more driving impressions on this car and although I'm not the target market for the Z06 I did get the chance to drive it so figured I'd just share what I thought for what it's worth.
I found the Z06 easy to shift, handle, drive. Even at a really low ride height, traffic didn't intimidate me. With all that power I could get myself out of situations right quick. WEEEEE! And so much loud, raw power. Radio off, let me listen to the car which burbles loudly even at just 2,500 rpm. On this sunny weekend, the only thing I really had to be careful with was going over bumps and stopping too closely to the car in front of me as the front end is a lot longer than I thought.
But things changed the instant I had to drive the Vette in the rain this morning. Some minor wheel spin at the green light wasn't so much a concern as was the constant shimmying of the car on the wet freeway. Couldn't tell if it was tramlining the grooves on the road or if the gusts of wind were batting it around but it felt like the car would lose control at any second. Editor Jay Kavanagh said he had experienced the same thing when he drove it in the rain: "Our Z06, for instance, is downright eerie in the wet even in the absence of hydroplaning." He blamed the dampers.
Whatever the reason, I didn't like it. I took my favorite curve of the 90 freeway oh-so carefully especially when I knew that hitting the gnarly seam on there would make the car dance. I definitely felt compelled to drive wayyyy more conservatively than I do in most of our cars.
So suffice it to say, wouldn't trust this car in the wet stuff but it's fun to drive all the other 364 days of the year in L.A.
PS: Just took a picture of the instrument panel since no one had posted one yet.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 44,893 miles
April 02, 2010
I have a love/hate/like relationship with the shifter in our long-term 2002 Chevy Corvette Z06.
I love the way it takes a heavy hand to operate and the way it actually feels like a true mechanical connection to the Corvette's drivetrain.
I hate the way it fights back when the light turns green and you need to find first gear quickly. It's not a huge issue but pulling it to the left gate from neutral does take little too much muscle.
I like the Vette's shift knob, which isn't really round, but it also isn't quite square. And I like the shifter's height, but wish it was a little shorter.
Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 44,843 miles