Base Price . $39,995. est.
Horsepower. 345 @ 5600 rpm
Torque. 350 @ 4400 rpm
Top Speed. 172 mph
0-60 mph. 4.8 sec.
1/4 mile. 108 mph @ 13.3 sec
Braking. 60-0 mph 116 ft.
Curb Weight. 3230 lbs.
Length. 179.7 in.
Width. 73.6 in.
Wheelbase. 104.5 in.
Engine. 346 cu. in / 5.66 liter V-8
Transmission. 6 speed manual
Luggage Space. 15.1 cu. ft.
Fuel Economy. 18.6 mpg



The suspension is an evolution from the C4 with many improvements. Front and rear crossmembers are now very tech looking aluminum casting, liberally ribbed for strength. They carry transverse composite leaf springs as before, but the rear suspension is now a true dual wishbone set up, unlike the previous generation which used the driveshafts as upper arms. This provides better wheel geometry and quieter running, since the differential can now be cush mounted. All suspension arms are alloy forgings or castings. For better balance and more cockpit room the transmissions, a 6 speed manual or a 4 speed auto have been moved to the rear.

Clean sheet #2 was titled "engine" and they just kept going. The small block Chevy has always been a runner but given the trend for high tech motors it seemed doomed. No way. They just reinvented it. Citing the packaging advantages and simplicity of the pushrod design, Chevy engineers redid the whole package in aluminum and came up with a block that is actually stiffer than the cast iron predecessor. They kept the 4.40" bore centers but went with a smaller bore, longer stroke design to stiffen the block with more meat between the bores and used lighter rods and pistons to run easier at high rpm than before. New 4 bolt pattern heads minimize distortion and aid sealing, while offering individual instead of "Siamesed" ports for better breathing. A new composite intake manifold is lighter and flows better. Bottom line, less weight, more power, more torque, quieter operation and the promise of increased durability.

Once all this mechanical stuff was out of the way the Corvette team concentrated on the cabin. Since the new frame rails were more efficient, they could be smaller in section, which lowered the sill height almost 4 inches for easier entry, a real problem in the C4. Moving the tranny to the rear opened up a lot more space in the foot wells. The wheelbase was stretched over 8 inches to add stability and interior room. What was once a cramped and claustrophobic cockpit is now a comfortable, roomy cabin. Big improvement. The new dash chucks the silly electronic instruments of the C4 and refits proper analog gauges, illuminated by a very trick ultraviolet lighting. A digital information center augments the gauges. The ignition switch is back on the dash, where it is easy to find and use. The glove box is back too, lighted and lockable and the new console features very useful storage space as well. This is now a proper sports car interior, rather than some tacky video game booth. Bravo! Getting around to the styling we see more evolution than innovation and more than one copied line. The C5 is an attractive car, but it is still clearly recognizable as a Corvette. This keeps the faithful happy, I suppose and represents the safe bet on the marketing side. It looks good and will wear well, but I'd have preferred a more daring statement. A few good points are that the stiff chassis no longer needs the stiffening effect of a firmly bolted removable roof section, so the Targa top is now a snap to remove, simple latches having replaced the cute little Corvette ratchet wrench, and 15 minutes are shaved off the top to topless time. The luggage area is almost twice as large as in the C4 and at 15 cubic feet, a truly useful capacity. One minor concern is the complete lack of a spare tire. New run flat Goodyears come fitted with dash readout of tire pressure and are supposed to be good for over 100 miles running without air. Chevy says you can hardly notice the difference when one goes flat. I'll wait for the field reports on this one, but perhaps I'm just too old fashioned to get it. The early reviews are all raves and the C5 now seems to be the value leader in this segment and one hell of a sports car. The design and the specifications are all right on the money. Faster, tighter, quieter and really comfortable the C5 shows real progress on all fronts. All for the same dough as the C4! Once we get one for an extended drive I'll form my final opinions, but my quick judgment is that Chevrolet has really aced this one, and produced the first Corvette I'd recommend without reservations.