We in ~ Car and Driver don"t need a the majority of encouragement come road-test a Corvette. As America"s highest-performance manufacturing car and also one the the world"s good supercar bargains, the Corvette is a constant topic of conversation in our office. Which is not to say the the discussions are always friendly. The disagreements between employee members who room smitten through the Corvette"s speed and also those who space discouraged by its deficiencies never stop.

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Chevrolet has fueled the controversy by continually honing, tuning, and also otherwise enhancing the current-generation Corvette, which very first appeared as a 1984 model. The 1985 version introduced a port fuel-injection system, which raised the engine"s power and also responsiveness, and a completely recalibrated suspension, i m sorry largely domesticated the car"s buckboard ride. A lover convertible edition and standard-equipment Bosch anti-lock brakes to be the highlights that the 1986 lineup. Critical year"s crop of improvements included the Z52 suspension package, which spanned the gap between the basic calibration and also the Z51 compete setup, and aluminum cylinder heads, which decreased weight and also helped include ten horsepower to the engine"s strength rating.

The 1988 Corvette proceeds the tradition of annual progress. This year"s news consists of revised front and also rear suspension geometry, enlarge brakes, yet another engine upgrade, and also optional seventeen-inch wheels and tires. There room a host of minor transforms as well: a quieter and lighter air-conditioning compressor, an enhanced ventilation system, and the addition to the standard-equipment perform of strength locks, cruise control, and an AM/FM/cassette stereotype system.

Of the running-gear changes, the most obvious are the bigger wheels and also tires, which room standard through the racetrack-oriented Z51 package or the comparable Z52 street setup. Other than for such boutique makers as the Porsche 959 and the Lamborghini LM002, the 1988 Corvette is the very first car in modern-day times to it is in outfitted with seventeen-inch wheels and tires. The tires room 275/40ZR-17 Goodyear Eagles—a wider, lower-profile development of the 255/50ZR-16 gatorbacks that are still fitted to the base car.

Surprisingly, the racy-looking rubber walk not—and was no intended to—improve the Corvette"s pure cornering power. Yet the Corvette had actually plenty of tight already. Our Z52-equipped test car circled the skidpad at 0.87 g, a performance identical to that of the Z52 us tested critical June, and also as high as that of any type of production auto we"ve ever before tested. Corvette and Goodyear engineers arisen the brand-new tires no to rise the ultimate grip yet to enhance controllability at the limit and performance ~ above wet pavement.

Sure enough, the 1988 Corvette v the Z52 option—a bargain at $970—handles much more benignly than any type of other Corvette we"ve ever driven. The chassis"s center understeer and also the tires" progressive breakaway encourage flirting v the Corvette"s impressive cornering limits. You can slide all 4 tires a bit, or flick the tail out v a touch of throttle if you prefer. You deserve to play Mario Andretti every day long without fearing the the chassis will snap into oversteer the first time you make a tiny mistake.


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And once the weather turns versus you, the Corvette won"t. Regardless of their steamroller width, the new Goodyears work-related amazingly fine in the wet. Not just is your wet fixed impressive, but they resist aquaplaning at any sensible speed. The brand-new rubber even works well in the snow. You"ll never mistake the Z52 Corvette for a Jeep, but neither will a three-inch snowfall transform her drive to work into a nonstop skid-control session. In fact, the biggest difficulty with steering a Corvette in the snow is that is sensitive accelerator linkage, which translates the first tiny increment of pedal movement right into a sizable fraction of the engine"s generosity torque. One overaggressive throttle is typically intended to produce the impression that a automobile has more power than it really has. The Corvette calls for no such fakery.

Some that the credit for the improved managing belongs to the suspension changes. Return the components and also their an easy layout are unchanged, the brand-new front geometry produces a scrub radius the zero, quite than the slightly an unfavorable figure of earlier Corvettes. This adjust eliminates the propensity of braking forces to steer the prior tires, for this reason increasing stability throughout braking once the tires space on surfaces of various traction.

In the rear, the designers repositioned number of of the suspension pivots to minimize the camber readjust that occurs together the suspension move up and also down. The result is that the tires maintain far better contact through the ground together the suspension reaction to bumps, improving straight-line security on uneven pavement.

We can"t say we noticed an ext stable braking in the new car, though us didn"t shot any difficult stops ~ above split-traction surfaces. The brand-new geometry absolutely improves steering feel, however, The Corvette"s in its entirety steering initiative is around perfect for a sports car, and the steering has actually a an extremely positive on-center groove. And also unlike part steering equipment that have solid on-center feel, the Corvette"s doesn"t feel artificial. On the an adverse side, the meanderings the the prior tires as they follow longitudinal grooves and also ridges tho come v unfiltered.

The revised rear suspension does aid to settle the ago end of the vehicle on turbulent pavement. Road crowns and also bumps now cause fewer disturbances in the rear, therefore the Corvette darts approximately less. Fast driving on ago roads demands much less attention than it go before.


We understand from racing suffer that the Z51 binders room up come the hellish heat generated in a 24-hour endurance race, and even the traditional brakes are currently up come the hardest street driving.


Although these suspension alters sound like an easy realignments, your implementation required redesigned regulate arms, hubs, pickup points, shock mounts, and spring and anti-roll-bar links.

Such extensive revision presented suitable opportunity to upgrade the Corvette"s brakes, which to be a tiny too small to stand up to fade throughout hard use. Part of the equipment is two-piston prior calipers instead of the single-piston style used before. The new calipers have larger pads, too; since they warm up much more slowly, they are an ext resistant come fade and also should critical longer. The engineers likewise enlarged the 0.8-inch-thick brake rotors, from 11.5 to 12.0 inch in diameter, boosting their warmth capacity together well. The Z51 vain package it s okay 13.0-by-1.1-inch rotors in front.

We recognize from racing suffer that the Z51 binders space up come the hellish heat generated in a 24-hour endurance race, and even the standard brakes are now up to the hardest street driving. Formerly, a solitary hard stop from a triple-digit speed created noticeable fade. Now, repeated difficult use will not to decrease the brakes" effectiveness.

That"s a substantial benefit, because the 1988 Corvette is much faster than ever. The latest version of the fuel-injected, 5.7-liter V-8 benefits from freer-flowing ports. Return the aluminum heads came to be standard tools last year and also were provided credit (along v a brand-new camshaft) for increasing the engine"s calculation to 240 horsepower, the "87 models to be actually slower than previously Corvettes with only 230 rated hp. This year"s upgrade has actually increased the rating come 245, because that an engine that is demonstrably as strong as that of any kind of Corvette us have ever before tested.


We far prefer this automatically to the Corvette"s hand-operated transmission, through its intrusive, computerized overdrive and clunky linkage.


Our check car, equipped with the four-speed automatic transmission and the optional 3.07:1 axle ratio (a 2.59 ratio is standard through the automatic), needed a only 5.6 secs to hit 60 mph and covered the quarter-mile in 14.3 secs at 95 mph. Those figures set no Corvette records, however the 154-mph top speed we measured renders the new car at least 3 mph quicker than any kind of of that predecessors. The revised engine without doubt seems come breathe much more deeply at high rpm.

Complementing this performance are the perfect drivability and also eager an answer we"ve pertained to expect from automatic-equipped Corvettes. The symbiosis of the automatic and the torquey V-8 set a highwater note for performance powertrains. No issue the situation or the speed, this mix translates press on the throttle into smooth, an effective thrust. The engine handles many demands indigenous the accelerator through is very own deep strength reserves; and also when that can"t answer the call, the transmission contributes a fast, firm, and extremely smooth kickdown. Upshifts are equally crisp and seamless. Couple of luxury cars change so slickly. We much prefer this automatic to the Corvette"s hand-operated transmission, through its intrusive, computerized overdrive and clunky linkage.


As long as Chevrolet"s sports vehicle is constructed with a separate fiberglass body, it"s i can not qualify to feel together solid together a Porsche.


Although the transforms for 1988 have actually strengthened the Corvette"s strengths and weakened the weaknesses, our office debates rage on. Us all agree the the Corvette has always been an excellent performer ~ above the racetrack, and that the brand-new car is a much more stunning roadway performer 보다 ever. But those who desire refinement v their performance stay troubled through the Corvette"s plasticky interior, that loud and also rumbly exhaust, its many (though fewer) squeaks and rattles, and also its less-than-stunning reliability record. Some of these shortcomings are inevitable results of the Corvette"s nature. As long as Chevrolet"s sports vehicle is developed with a different fiberglass body, it"s i can not qualify to feel as solid as a Porsche.

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Which bring up a last point: the Corvette doesn"t price as lot as a Porsche, either. The Z52 on this pages—equipped through power animal leather seats, a luxurious sound system, and other options—wore a sticker price of $33,593. A plain-Jane 924S, without an automatic transmission however otherwise comparably equipped, costs around $35,500—and for that extra two grand you get a auto that go not market anti-lock brakes and also is about two seconds slower to 60 mph and also 20 mph shy in height speed. For many of us on Hogback Road, that makes the Corvette an unbeatable bargain. To to convince the office holdouts, we"ll just need to keep trial and error every new Corvette we can get our hands on.

Counterpoint

Don"t expect numerous Corvette objections from me. I adore Chevy"s plastic beauty. I"m not blind to its spotty reliability record or to its propensity for squeaks and rattles, however I am convinced that no other vehicle on earth offers more raw performance or sculptured pulchritude for much less than $50,000. The 1988 edition is the best year. Yes, the Corvette group has much more work to do before its sports automobile is together tight and also rattle-free as a Porsche. But then, to buy a Porsche that can run with a Vette, you"ll need to shell the end at least $65,000. That must pay because that a couple of trips come the Chevy business department. What"s more, v the exemption of any kind of Ferrari and maybe the brand-new Lotus Esprit Turbo, there isn"t a better-looking sports auto built. Standing tall on its new seventeen-inch wheels, the Corvette has actually never looked much more stunning. Oh, one an ext thing. To all those highbrows who wouldn"t be captured dead in a Corvette since of its "image," ns say: Kiss my taillights! —Arthur St. Antoine

Because a beautiful woman once picked me increase in a silver Corvette that belonged to her father, I"ve never been maybe to slam these makers rationally. This appears altogether fair, however, offered the Corvette"s document of continuing improvement. The red bahnstormer we"ve been driving for the past weeks verified me nothing however a great time. The employee spoke easily of ills the plagued previously Corvettes, maladies ideal summed increase by the indigenous "quality control." Or absence of same. Happily, ns escaped such inconveniences and have only laurels to ar on the Corvette"s roof. Well, almost. The much more I think around it, ns wonder why the Corvette has to be made from fiberglass. Were it bodied through aluminum or steel, it might not squeak favor an old man"s knees once it gets old. There"s likewise a rock to be actors at having to usage a wrench to get the removable hard top off, and no small amount of irritation attaches to having to acquire the auto absolutely level before you deserve to wrench the top ago into place. That level of adaptability has no ar in a world-class grand-touring coupe. —William Jeanes

You might too know mine biases going into this counterpoint: i love Corvettes. Ns love winging them approximately road-racing circuits in endurance races, and also I love zinging them roughly on public roads. I"m proud come say ns backed the Vette in our Ten ideal voting. Ns stop short of blind devotion, however. The Corvette"s faults space as noticeable as that is strengths. Building a sports vehicle with a pop-off roof and also a fiberglass skin provides as lot sense as trying to run in cement shoes. Friend can"t develop a rigid, tight-fitting car that way. So, regardless of a organize of structural Band-Aids, the Corvette quiet shivers end bumps and also creaks its method through life. This auto deserves to be together solid together the Porsche 944s and also Toyota Supra Turbos it trounces in performance. I"d settle for other close, even. There"s no excuse because that a 30-grand car with less than a world-class body. That said, I"d favor to answer the only question the really matters in a conversation like this: make mine red. —Rich Ceppos


SPECIFICATIONS

1988 Chevrolet Corvette

VEHICLE TYPEfront-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 2-door targa

PRICE together TESTED$33,598 (base price: $29,955)

ENGINE TYPEpushrod 16-valve V-8, stole block and aluminum heads, port fuel injectionDisplacement: 350 in3, 5733 cm3Power: 245 hp
3200 rpm

TRANSMISSION4-speed automatic

CHASSISSuspension (F/R): control arms/multilinkBrakes (F/R): 12.0-in vented disc/12.0-in vented discTires: Goodyear Eagle ZR40, P27540ZR-17

DIMENSIONSWheelbase: 96.2 in Length: 176.5 in Width: 71.0 in Height: 46.7 in Passenger volume: 49 ft3 Cargo volume: 18 ft3Curb weight: 3313 lb

C/D test RESULTS60 mph: 5.6 sec100 mph: 16.3 sec110 mph: 21.4 secTop gear, 30–50 mph: 2.9 secTop gear, 50–70 mph: 4.2 sec1/4 mile: 14.2 sec
95 mphTop speed: 154 mphBraking, 70–0 mph: 168 ftRoadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.87 g