What's New for 2006
Changes for the 2006 Chevrolet Corvette include a new six-speed automatic transmission, a smaller-diameter three-spoke steering wheel, a new automatic passenger-detecting sensor for the front-passenger airbag and XM Satellite Radio for the premium Bose audio system. For performance fanatics, there's also the new 505-horsepower Z06 model.
Debuting in 1953 at the General Motors Motorama in New York City, the Chevrolet Corvette has become one of the longest-running automotive nameplates in history. Although the beautifully styled original '53 was hardly a sports car with its modest six-cylinder engine and two-speed automatic, subsequent models slowly refined the Chevy Corvette into America's premier sports car.
The 1956 model featured revised bodywork and much improved handling thanks to legendary engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov, but it wasn't until the 1963 "Sting Ray" Corvette that it attained true sports car status. The 1970s weren't particularly kind to the Chevy Corvette because of tougher emissions requirements and fuel economy concerns. Improvement finally arrived in 1984. With its sleek, modern design and a fully removable targa top, the C4 (Corvette fourth generation) was a well-rounded performer, despite some initial problems with its "Cross-Fire" fuel injection system and bone-jarring suspension. A convertible version debuted in '86, while an ultrahigh-performance ZR-1 bowed in 1990. With 375 horsepower, the ZR-1 was one of the fastest cars in the world at the time.
In 1997, Chevrolet introduced the fifth-generation Corvette coupe to rave reviews. Stylistically, the C5 wasn't radical, but when it came to performance and refinement, there was no comparison. The standard LS-1 engine in '97 produced 345 hp and 350 pound-feet of torque. A one-piece, hydroformed frame made it stiffer and more capable in the corners than any Corvette before it, and it even had a sizable luggage area beneath the rear hatch. A convertible model debuted a year later, followed by a non-targa roofed hardtop a year after that. Even bigger news came in 2001 when the high-performance Z06 model was reborn (the name originates from an option package on second-generation Corvettes) for enthusiasts willing to sacrifice a little ride quality for all-out performance.
The Chevrolet Corvette was redesigned once again for 2005 and thus designated the C6. Underhood lies a 400-hp LS-2 V8 mated to a standard six-speed manual tranny. The C6 has exposed headlamps -- a design feature not seen on a Vette since 1962. Three suspension levels are available, including a setup with Magnetic Ride Control and a Z51 package with upgraded brakes, suspension components and transmission gearing. Ride and handling are exceptional, regardless of which suspension package you choose. A convertible model is also available, and can be equipped with a slick power top. The legendary Z06 returns for 2006, boasting a 7.0-liter V8 that cranks out 505 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. A myriad of performance-minded revisions grace the suspension and braking systems, and even the exterior styling gets a few tweaks. Whichever model you choose, the 2006 Chevrolet Corvette is a thrilling performance machine that offers levels of refinement and value right up there with the very best in its class.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The composite-bodied Chevy Corvette comes in two forms: coupe (technically a hatchback) and convertible. The coupe features a removable roof panel for open-air cruising, though true wind-in-the-hair types will want to opt for the soft-top convertible. The coupe and convertible come well equipped with items such as xenon headlamps, leather seating and a removable roof panel. Notable options include the Magnetic Ride Control suspension, a Z51 performance handling package and a DVD-based navigation system. Coupes can be equipped with a transparent roof panel, or both the standard solid panel and the transparent panel. A versatile head-up display is available, along with driver-seat memory, a seven-speaker Bose audio system and automatic climate control. The Z06 maintains most of the regular Corvette coupe's features but gains a lightweight aluminum frame, wider wheels and tires, a more stiffly tuned suspension, better brakes and special seats.
Powertrains and Performance
Base coupe and convertible Corvettes come with a 6.0-liter LS-2 V8, rated at 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. The Z06 boasts a stunning 505 hp and 470 lb-ft from its 7.0-liter V8. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard across the board, while a new six-speed automatic is a no-charge option for the base coupe and convertible. To help rein in the power on slippery surfaces, traction and stability control (Active Handling System) are standard equipment.
Four-wheel ventilated, antilock disc brakes are standard. Side-impact airbags are optional, but head curtain airbags are not available. The Vette features an Active Handling System (AHS) that can sense a loss of control and apply individual brakes or cut power to help maintain stability. This system has been well programmed to provide noninvasive assistance, and a performance driving mode gives the driver even more control at the track -- while maintaining a safety net.
Interior Design and Special Features
With plenty of Chevrolet Corvette reviews stating that the previous generation's interior was not up to the standards of the rest of the car, the new car's designers made the fitment of a better interior a top priority. In some ways, they succeeded. The 2006 Chevrolet Corvette interior is indeed better in terms of material quality, and it has cupholders you can actually use. The gauges are great and the optional DVD navigation system is a nice upgrade, too. But compared to European sports cars, the Vette's interior quality and seat comfort are still a step behind.
Endless power from either snarling V8 combined with a tight suspension results in a sports car that never ceases to put a smile on your face. All three of the suspension packages deliver a compliant ride along with white-knuckled handling abilities. The 2006 Chevy Corvette is a comfortable touring car, as well as a world-class performance machine. The Z06 version is an unforgettable monster on the street.