Quicker 1992 Corvette will also be quieter

January 19, 1992|By Al Haas | Al Haas,Knight-Ridder News Service

It would be correct to say that the current-generation Chevrolet Corvette has remained essentially unchanged since its introduction as a 1984 model. But it also would be misleading.

Indeed, America's sports car still looks much as it did, and is fundamentally the same mechanically. But over the years, the raw rookie has slowly metamorphosed into a refined veteran. The car's enhancement has been a tour de force in substantive automotive evolution.

There has been a steady procession of technological advances, such as anti-lock braking and adjustable shock damping, and the replacement of the crude original manual transmission with a slick, six-speed ZF gearbox.

In recent times, a succession of improvements also has gotten rid of a lot of squeak and creak, and made the big, spirited stallion easier and more comfortable to ride.

As it turns out, however, the evolutionary changes that have gone before were really slight business compared with the dramatic revisions for 1992. The new Corvette will be markedly ++ quicker, faster, quieter and more comfortable. It will get a 25 percent increase in power, yet boast better gas mileage.

Thanks largely to the better breathing afforded by its redesigned cylinder heads and new intake and exhaust systems, the horsepower rating of the Vette's brawny 5.7-liter V-8 will vault from 250 to 300. According to the Vette's engineers, that bump drops the zero-to-60 acceleration time of the standard $35,000 Vette to under five seconds, just a hair slower than the ZR-1, the special Corvette that costs almost twice as much.

They say that the additional power also raises the car's top speed from 150 mph to more than 160, just 15 mph slower than the ZR-1.

The new Corvette gets something the car has needed a lot

more: comfort and sophistication. Different suspension tuning and a novel set of Goodyear hiking boots give the '92 Vette a much more comfortable ride. So comfortable that Car & Driver feels "the new Vette may well possess the best ride of any sports car."

Also new for '92 is a standard electronic traction-control system that promises to give the two-seater a much better grip on wet or

snowy roads.

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