Used 2008 Chevrolet Corvette Indy 500 Pace Car Replica
- Exotic-car performance for short money, daily-driver functionality, excellent ergonomics.
- Base interior lacks pizzazz compared to rivals, ultra-performance Z06 looks too much like the standard Corvette.
Edmunds' Expert Review
With its world-class performance, handsome styling and daily driver practicality, the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette is the best sports car deal on the planet.
With performance that rivals $200,000 exotics, the current-generation Chevrolet Corvette is -- at one-fourth to one-third the cost -- the buy of a lifetime for many sports car enthusiasts. In keeping with tradition, there are a variety of Corvettes offered, including the base removable-top coupe, a convertible and the ferocious Z06, a fixed-roof coupe that boasts a track-ready suspension and a 7.0-liter V8 that thumps out a tire-melting 505 horsepower. And the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette only gets better thanks to more power, additional refinement and more standard features.
The power part comes from a revised, 6.2-liter engine for the base Vettes. It cranks out 430 hp, a gain of 30 more horses than last year. There's also a new optional exhaust that raises horsepower by another 6. Other hardware changes include revised transmissions for quicker and easier shift quality and an improved steering rack for better feel. And in hopes of fending off criticism once and for all about the car's plasticky interior, Chevy has introduced a new (and pricey) interior package this year that places high-quality, two-tone leather upholstery on the dash, seats and doors.
If all the 2008 Corvette offered was acceleration, braking and handling equal to high-dollar exotics, it would still be the darling of car buffs everywhere. But a surprising level of utility comes along for the ride, too. The Corvette offers a user-friendly cockpit, a massive amount of luggage space and a ride quality that's comfortable enough for daily commuting and long freeway slogs.
Our quibbles with the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette are few. Although the base interior is better than years past, it's still somewhat plain and has too much plastic trim for a car in this price range. Nor can the Corvette match the nimble handling of European models like the BMW M coupe and roadster. But for the majority of shoppers in this segment, those items will likely be minor issues. For the money, it doesn't get any better than the Corvette.
Trim levels & features
Officially, the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette is shown as coming in two body styles: a coupe and a convertible. But in reality, there are three: the removable-top coupe, fixed-roof coupe and convertible. The standard Corvette coupe features a removable roof panel, whereas the Corvette Z06 coupe's roof looks the same, but is fixed in place for improved rigidity. The convertible should appeal to true roadster enthusiasts and, like Corvette roadsters before it, features a hideaway top.
Standard on the coupe and drop top are xenon headlamps, keyless entry and startup, full power accessories, satellite radio, a CD player and audio input jack, OnStar telematics, auto-dimming mirrors all around, leather seating, a six-way power driver seat and dual-zone automatic climate control. The Z06 includes most of the standard Corvette coupe's features but gains a more powerful V8, a lighter frame, larger wheels and tires, a more stiffly tuned suspension, upgraded brakes and special sport seats. The 427 Limited Edition Z06 -- an allusion to the 427-cubic-inch power plant this car shares with the "base" Z06 -- adds special paint and graphics and comes standard with an exclusive titanium-hued leather interior.
Option highlights (many of which are grouped in packages) for the standard coupe and convertible include a custom two-tone leather interior (with leather covering the dash top, console top and armrests), a navigation system, a transparent roof panel for the coupe, a head-up display, driver-seat memory and a seven-speaker Bose audio system. There are also suspension options: the Magnetic Ride Control suspension (which automatically firms up and softens the suspension according to how the car is being driven) and the Z51 performance handling package (which adds extra cooling, stiffer suspension calibrations, bigger brakes with cross-drilled rotors, specific tires and shorter gearing for the six-speed manual). Options for the Z06 are similar minus the transparent roof panel and suspension options.
Performance & mpg
Both the base coupe and convertible Corvettes feature a 6.2-liter V8 that makes an impressive 430 hp and 424 pound-feet of torque. An optional performance exhaust adds another 6 hp. The Z06 boasts an exotic-class 505 hp and 470 lb-ft from its 7.0-liter V8. All Corvettes have a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, while a six-speed paddle-shift automatic is a no-cost option for the base coupe and convertible. The manual gearbox features new linkage for more positive action while the automatic has been recalibrated to furnish quicker response to the paddle shifters.
Regardless of which Corvette you choose, you'll get stunning performance. We spurred the base Corvette coupe from zero to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds en route to a blistering 12.8-second quarter-mile at 114.8 mph, and Chevrolet claims that it won't stop until it hits 190 mph. Fuel economy is relatively impressive too, with 2008 EPA estimates of 16 mpg city/26 mpg highway for a manual-transmission Corvette. The Z06 is even quicker -- and at 15 mpg city/24 highway, there's only a slight penalty at the pump.
Antilock disc brakes are standard, as is a superb stability control system known as Active Handling. The latter provides noninvasive assistance and allows the expert driver a performance driving mode that gives more leeway while still maintaining a safety net. Side-impact airbags are optional, but head curtain airbags are not available.
A tidal wave of endless power from either snarling V8 along with tight handling results in a sports car that never ceases to put a smile on your face. Any of the three suspension packages will deliver a compliant ride along with white-knuckled handling capabilities, while this year's improved steering provides greater road feel. In short, the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette can serve equally well as a comfortable touring car or world-class performance machine, while the Z06 version is simply a monster on the street that is still docile enough to serve as one's daily driver.
Ever since the debut of the previous-generation Corvette, Chevrolet has made big strides in terms of interior fit and finish, which are now very good, though perhaps still one step behind class leaders. Large gauges, simple controls (even on the optional navigation system), usable cupholders and massive cargo capacity (22 cubic feet in coupes and 11 cubes in the convertible) make the Vette a sports car that's easy to live with on a day-to-day basis.
Features & Specs
More About This Model
We're behind the wheel of the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette, and right over there is the assembly plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where a lot more of them will be coming off the line shortly. It's the center of the Corvette universe.
Will Cooksey is riding in the passenger seat of this new 2008 Chevrolet Corvette and he's remembering when he came home from Vietnam, and one of the first things he did was buy a 1969 Vette. He was sufficiently impressed with the car that he went to work for General Motors, hoping that someday, maybe he could build Corvettes.
Now Cooksey is the manager of the Bowling Green plant, where his 1,200 employees crank out about 20 Corvettes an hour, as well as about six Cadillac XLRs a day. Cooksey himself owns five Corvettes, plus a full-blown drag-racing Corvette that will, he says, "run 9-second quarter-miles all day." Cooksey says he owns an XLR, too. "I'm probably one of the few plant managers who buys his own products," he tells us.
Of course, would he have so many if he was, say, plant manager of the Chevy Cobalt plant? "Umm, I doubt it," he says, laughing.
On the Road in the '08
It seems like only moments ago when the Corvette C6 was introduced — a new, leaned-down package filled to the brim with the latest high-performance technology developed by the small group of Vette-dedicated engineers. But that was 2005, and since then the Corvette has twice won its class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans since then (and might another time this June), so it's time for what General Motors calls a "midcycle enhancement."
It's a pretty good enhancement, too, because it begins with the new LS3 V8, now standard equipment for both the Corvette coupe and convertible. In a nutshell, the 2008 V8's displacement is bumped from 6.0 liters to 6.2 thanks to an increase in cylinder bore from 101.6mm to 103.3mm. This 6,162cc V8 also gets new cylinder heads derived from those for the 7.0-liter LS7 V8 featured in the 500-horsepower Corvette Z06, with low-restriction, large-capacity intake ports plus lightweight, hollow-stemmed intake valves that are about 9 percent larger.
Once you add a strengthened block, a new high-lift camshaft, a revised valve train and LS7-style fuel injectors plus a new intake manifold, the bottom line is 430 hp at 5,900 rpm, some 30 hp more than before. Torque output is 424 pound-feet at 4,600 rpm.
If you're after every last bit of power from the LS3 V8 (plant manager Cooksey is encouraging us here), you'll want to consider the new, optional, Z06-style exhaust system. At maximum load, butterfly valves open in two of the four exhaust runners to reduce back pressure, and the result is six more hp and 4 pound-feet of torque, for a total of 436 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque.
Top speed is a cool 190 mph.
The Corvette engineers have also done their best to get you up to speed quicker than before with some transmission improvements. The six-speed manual transmission has an improved shift linkage with a more positive, direct feel and stronger, spring-loaded action from gate to gate. No more navigation exercises required when going for a gear in a Corvette. Meanwhile the six-speed automatic has some new hardware and a new calibration that delivers quicker shifts, so the car feels more responsive when you use the steering wheel-mounted shift paddles. Chevy says the 2008 Corvette automatic now gets to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, quicker than ever before.
Exterior Enhancements? Not So Much.
Most of the visual updates for the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette lie in the cockpit. There's a metal sill plate to greet you as you open the door, then some new brightwork on the center stack and the center console. Most important, there's a new, optional two-tone leather trim package that finally drags the Corvette's interior out of the 1980s at long last. "We kept hearing complaints that the styling of the Corvette's interior wasn't on par with the exterior," says Tom Wallace, the Corvette's chief engineer, "and I think we've addressed that."
One thing Wallace's team also addressed, but to no good end, is the '08 Vette's exterior appearance. There are new split-spoke wheels derived from the Corvette pace car that will appear at the 2007 Indianapolis 500, plus some handsome-but-generic five-spoke alloys sourced from a new offshore supplier. But otherwise there's nothing to tell your friends that you're driving a cool, new 2008 Corvette instead of an old, ratty, outdated 2007 model. No difference in exterior badges, even.
How come? "Well, we definitely looked at it," Wallace says, "and we even tried some changes. To the taillights, the nose, several other places. But everything we did, the consensus was that what we have looks better."
At least there are two new colors: Jetstream Blue Metallic Tintcoat and Crystal Red Metallic Tintcoat.
The Carefully Calibrated Dynamometer
The introduction of the 2008 Corvette took place near the National Corvette Museum, right across the road from the Bowling Green assembly plant. It's a great place, with lots of exhibits that trace the development of the Corvette since those first few fiberglass cars were hand-built in Flint, Michigan, then the years of production in St. Louis and finally modern history here in Bowling Green. You can even arrange to have your new Corvette delivered here at the museum in a special ceremony.
Unfortunately this introduction to the 2008 Corvette included only a short driving loop of 40 miles. Thanks to a drive during the morning in a 2007 model, the carefully calibrated dyno in the seat of our pants did find the extra 36 hp in the 2008 Corvette. Even though this represents just a 9 percent horsepower improvement in the 3,217-pound coupe, the midrange punch definitely seems more potent.
It's hard to say if the quicker-shifting automatic really amounts to a difference you can feel, though. And while the Corvette guys have applied a new, more precise machining process to the rack-and-pinion steering and made some of the internal components more rigid, we can't say that we felt a dramatic improvement.
But given the fact that the main enhancement for the 2007 Corvette over the 2006 model amounted to a larger glove compartment, we'll take what we can get.
When, and How Much?
Cooksey tells us that one day late in June, his plant will make a rolling change from the 2007 to the 2008 model with no plant downtime. By August, the new 2008 Chevrolet Corvette coupes and convertibles should appear at a Dealer Near You.
There are, however, virtually no changes to the 2008 Corvette Z06, as we await the ultrahigh-performance 2009 Corvette model that no one here at the center of the Corvette universe denies is coming. They do, however, worry about the likelihood that most of these super Vettes will end up in the hands of collectors. "I'm not sure you'll be able to touch one for under $150,000," one executive lamented.
Pricing for the 2008 Corvette has not been decided, but any increase will be, we're told, "modest." The current base price of the coupe is $44,250. And the optional 2008 exhaust system should be about $1,000, give or take a little.
We look forward to a full test of the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette. But then again, we look forward to a full test of any Corvette, and always have.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
Used 2008 Chevrolet Corvette Indy 500 Pace Car Replica Overview
The Used 2008 Chevrolet Corvette Indy 500 Pace Car Replica is offered in the following styles: Indy 500 Pace Car Replica 2dr Coupe (6.2L 8cyl 6M), and Indy 500 Pace Car Replica 2dr Convertible (6.2L 8cyl 6M).
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Should I lease or buy a 2008 Chevrolet Corvette?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.