Monday, August 15, 2022

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Cars in the City

Little red Corvette

8/3/2022

“Little Red Corvette” is the name of a 1980s Prince song, but it’s also synonymous with an adventurous ride. As I longed to drive a convertible for this column, sports cars were elusive. Due to the pandemic and supply chain issues, there’s up to a three-year wait at the dealer for a new Corvette. Or, if your pocketbook allows, you can pay 25-50% more than sticker price. 

Still, I was able to find a 2022 Corvette Coupe 1 LT Model to drive. Drive? The word “drive” barely describes the euphoria you experience as you hop into this popular sports car.

The coupe is the eighth-generation Corvette, with a first-time mid-engine design. Climbing into the cockpit, I felt I should be donning a Pennzoil logo-racing helmet and strapping into a five-point safety harness. The square steering wheel is designed so you can easily shimmy your body in the low-hung seat.

The outside color is torch red (25% of all Corvettes are red) and the interior an adrenaline red with black. Of course, it’s red — who sings about a brown Corvette?

It has a push-button start, a paddle shifter, with a 15-inch control panel running vertically in the center console area. As I put it into drive, the owner of the car, Randy Johnson (a.k.a., my big brother) rattled on an encyclopedia-length list of features, costs and previous model comparisons. I hate to admit it, but my frequently annoying brother might actually be knowledgeable, as this is the 20th Corvette he’s owned since 1983.

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With options, the model test driven cost $67,930. Other models can crack more than $100,000. It’s a clutch automatic, with 6.2 liter V8 engine, 495 horsepower. In comparison, my wimpy little Honda is a 1.5 liter with 192 horsepower.

The engine doesn’t necessarily sound revved or too loud. Even though the engine is 18 inches behind you, the C-8 version is quieter than previous models. It’s mid-engine, meaning the engine is not in the front; rather in the middle of the car. Why? Putting the engine in the rear puts more weight on the rear axles, meaning more rear end traction to gain power and accelerate quickly. 

I came to a stop so I could test a quick acceleration. As Randy encouraged me to “floor it,” the computer screen ticked off my speed in seconds. It can do 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds; however, it took me about 3.9 seconds.

The maximum speed of a Corvette tops out at 194 mph. To test this theory, I sought out a deserted paved road, checked the CB radio to make sure there weren’t any smokey bears, and I put the pedal to the metal. In about five seconds, I was inching past 80 mph, then 90; I topped out at 101 mph before slightly freaking out and slowed down. Ah… is this the adrenaline roller-coaster ride rush that Corvette owners crave? 

To experience the cornering ability, you need both hands on the wheel, as it turns responsively. Surprisingly, I felt safer than in a rambling SUV that could topple on a tight turn.

The lift-off roof panel tucks nicely into the back section of the car. Or, if you need storage, keep the roof on and throw in a set of golf clubs and your overnight bag.

If you’re yearning for an American-made sports car, the iconic attention-grabbing Corvette is one sweet speedy ride. ♦

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