The Corvette wasn’t around 100 years ago when Chevrolet was born. But for 2012, the iconic two-seater gets a Chevrolet Centennial Special Edition package that founder and racing pioneer Louis Chevrolet could have loved.
The Centennial package of suspension control, special graphics, badging and interior comes on Corvettes in only one color – black inside and out. The first Chevrolet built in 1911 in Detroit was black, too.
But the 2012 Corvette Centennial Special Edition’s sinister look, created by modern Carbon Flash metallic exterior paint accented by satin black exterior graphics, is anything but old.
Applied to the low-slung, pavement-hugging Corvette, the look can appeal to drivers wanting a distinctive, edgy appearance on a car with ample power.
The Corvette is a recommended buy of Consumer Reports magazine, with a predicted reliability of average.
Priced as a $4,950 option, the centennial package is available on various 2012 Corvette coupes and convertibles, starting with the Grand Sport 3LT coupe with six-speed manual that has a starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price, including destination charge, of $61,995.
The lowest starting retail price for an automatic-transmission, 2012 Corvette that can add the Centennial package is the Grand Sport 3LT coupe automatic at $64,220, according to the Chevrolet Web site.
High-performance competitors tend to be higher priced. For example, the 2013 Nissan GT-R has a starting MSRP, including destination charge, of $97,820, and the 2013 GT-R’s Black Edition – with black wheels and paint and carbon fiber spoiler – starts at $107,320. The 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S starts at $91,450.
Corvettes have long had their fans and collectors, and U.S. sales in calendar 2011 rose 4.3 percent, to 13,164 from a year earlier. But annual sales totaled 30,000-plus in the mid-2000s. Blame it on the depressed economy, gasoline prices and parent company General Motors’ financial problems.
While competitors have a relatively skimpy selection of powerplants, Chevrolet offers many versions of Corvettes.
They range from the base 1LT with 430-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8 to the Z06 with 505-horsepower, 7-liter, naturally aspirated V-8 to the ZR1 with 638-horsepower, supercharged, 6.2-liter V-8. The breadth of performance, and car personality, is impressive.
Base Corvettes are suited more for regular roads, while the test Corvette – a Z06 coupe with centennial package and ultimate performance package – was a machine looking for a racetrack.
The tester’s overhead valve V-8 had monstrous power that made merging into highway traffic seem like launch mode.
Torque rises to 470 foot-pounds at 4,800 rpm in awesome fashion, accompanied by throaty engine sounds coming out of the two-mode muffler system with four tailpipes.
The Z06 is a lightweight, 3,200-pound car, so it reacted fast. The tester, with optional carbon fiber body pieces, often pushed the driver’s head and back into the seatbacks as it thrust forward forcefully in even mild maneuvers.
But there was some shake in the body as it rolled over road bumps. The ride was stiff in touring suspension mode and harsh in sport mode.
Either way, the Corvette was intimately in touch with the pavement.
Fuel mileage isn’t usually something to boast about in high-performance cars. But in 65 percent city and 35 percent highway driving, the test Z06 averaged a surprising 18 miles per gallon.