Undergoing only its sixth generational change since its 1953 introduction, the new-for-2005 Chevrolet Corvette is more an evolutionary progression from the 2004 C5. Overall length is 127 mm shorter and the car is 25 mm narrower than in 2004, but the wheelbase has grown by 30 mm. It’s also lighter than its predecessor. The entire package is smoother, better proportioned and more refined, and features the first exposed headlights since 1962.

It’s still fibreglass, but there’s plenty of metal within, including full-length, hydroformed steel frame rails, and an aluminum cockpit structure. It’s the most rigid Corvette to date.

The Corvette comes as a coupe or convertible, in one trim line, and both with a new 400 horsepower 6.0-litre V8 with six-speed manual or four-speed automatic. It’s the most powerful small-block ever offered in a Corvette. Three suspension systems are available, including Magnetic Selective Ride Control and the Z51 Performance Package. The power soft top, an option for U.S. buyers, is standard equipment in Canada.

Features on both include fog lights, high-intensity discharge xenon headlights, power heated mirrors with driver’s side auto-dimming feature, 18-inch front and 19-inch rear aluminum wheels, variable intermittent wipers, automatic dual-zone air conditioning, cargo net, cruise control, garage door opener, keyless ignition with pushbutton start, head-up display (HUD), auto-dimming rearview mirror, driver’s position memory, power telescopic/manual tilt leather-wrapped wheel, perforated leather seats with six-way power driver, six-disc CD/MP3 with seven speakers, and traction control. The coupe comes with a body-colour, one-piece removable roof panel that can be optioned to a transparent one.

The Z51 package includes a manual six-speed with higher ratios for faster acceleration, firmer springs, stickier tires and extra cooling capacity. The available Magnetic Ride system includes special shock absorbers with suspended iron particles in their fluid; when electrical current is applied, it changes the fluid’s viscosity, for a soft ride on long flat runs and a stiffer, curve-friendly firmness for more challenging terrain. Tires are run-flat, with a soft tread that grips the road, and eliminates the added weight of a spare tire.

The interior is redone as well and is very spacious for a two-seater, with comfortable but supportive seats and high-quality materials. The awkward door handles of 2004 have been replaced by buttons, courtesy of a keyless system.

The convertible has been engineered with the extra rigidity necessary when the roof is snipped off. There is no access to the trunk through the cabin as on previous models, which eliminates the noise associated with it. There’s a rear bulkhead between the seats and the trunk. Wind buffeting is minimal.

Unofficially dubbed the C6, the Corvette remains an American icon, and one that has carved out its own niche among those for whom muscle comes strictly from North America; it’s $59,605 cheaper and much more user-friendly than the Dodge Viper, it’s got 45 more horses and a tag that’s $48,255 less than the Porsche 911 Carrera S, and you can’t even look at a Ferrari under 200 grand.

The Corvette is built in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

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