Chevrolet Corvette C5
1997 Porsche C2
Chevrolet Corvette Sport Coupe
Impressions and Driving Comparison
Driving Experience: I owned and drove both of these vehicles. Both were driven in commuter type city and long distance touring instances. The touring consisted of a number of 1200-mile trips in the Corvette and a 6000-mile tour in the Porsche.
In the city environment, both vehicles are comfortable and negotiate traffic without problems. The corvette gearing is problematic with the EPA lockout between 1st and 2nd gears when up shifting placed on the vehicle for emission purposes. In low rev up-shifts typically encountered in slow stop and go traffic, the manual shift mechanism prevents completing the shift until a preset rev is achieved. So you are either running high rev in 1st gear and constantly on the clutch or over running the vehicles in front of you in 2nd gear. An after-market bypass modification to the transmission is a must to return the shifting to the control and wisdom of the driver especially in traffic conditions. Although I have not noticed any similar complaints with the shift range in the Porsche, there is an offsetting problem in terms of the visibility with the Cabriolet top up. Even with careful mirror adjustment, the Cab top gives the driver a significant hole in the rear visibility. I find that the head turn that I practice in addition to using the mirrors is sufficient in orderly traffic flow and lane changing. But not so in the aggressive lane changing in heavy bumper to bumper traffic, i.e. the freeways in Los Angeles at rush hour which actually runs from about 4:30 A. M. to 11:30 P.M. The Porsche is quicker and more nimble when maneuvering in the city traffic. As far as the mix with the other traffic, prior to getting the rear wing on the Porsche, the Corvette attracted the other drivers envy and malice in terms of tail-gating, running past and pulling in front of and pacing the vehicle on the rear bumpers for a "good look". Now that I have the wing on the Porsche, it gets the same and frequently unwanted crowding and attention in traffic. The sum of it all ends up with the Porsche as the driver of choice in these circumstances.
In the touring environment, both vehicles were terrific to travel in but the Corvette had a significant edge. On the long hauls, the Porsche ride was stiffer but not all that straining. The positioning issues became apparent in the legs and hip and neck with some ensuing stiffness at the end of the days drive. Also, the general creature comforts the Corvette offered including more room in the cabin for driver and passenger and a convenient shelf behind for maps, snacks and cooler were a real plus. Also, the factory tires on the Corvette are of the "zero-pressure" type in the event of a puncture and may be driven on long enough to reach a location with suitable repair facilities or in the extreme, replacement entirely. I must admit, the thought of a puncture in the Porsche without a spare and only the untested air pump was of concern. I also found the computer and heads-up display an excellent tool to monitor all of the vehicle functions at any given time. Even the tire pressures could be displayed as one of the many driver-selected options in the constant computer read out. The heads-up display shows RPM, speeds engine temperature and is programmable to add or delete its display. Given the choice, the Corvette gets the nod for long haul trips.
Acceleration and Handling: Here again the venue is the trump card to determine the vehicle of choice. The Porsche is most adaptable for quick reaction, nimble handling, and a feel of solid stick it in the place you want it while cranking up the feet per second. On the curves and back roads, there is no doubt between which vehicle you seem to be part of rather than just driver. The Corvette appears to be soft and have more roll in the active cornering. The size of the vehicle is noticeably a factor. It takes a mental adjustment and effort to move from the Porsche to the Corvette in these conditions and I never do achieve the same road feel in the seat that give you the sense of control and knowledge of what the vehicle is doing to make the necessary adjustments. The Porsche takes my vote for these conditions.
On the flat out runs, the Corvette is impressive exceeding the Porsche for quick acceleration. Although the 0-60 acceleration specs are listed at .9 second slower for the Porsche, there seems to be more of a difference in the application and practice. I suspect the SLP Cat-back exhaust and the H&R dual Air intakes probably kick the horsepower up anywhere from 15-20 hp, resulting in a 0-60 time of 4.8-4.9 seconds. But even prior to adding these modifications, the stock vehicle was a kick in the backside. At higher straight line speeds, the Corvette would ran straight, fast and seemed solid up to 120 where some difficulty was noted in the fuel shut down accomplished by the computer. I investigated this with my corvette specialist mechanic. I was surprised to have been told that the factory programmed the vehicle computer to cut back the fuel flow at or about 120-mph. To achieve the higher speed the vehicle is capable of, the computer would have to be reprogrammed. It is like having a factory governor being installed. No such gimmicks in the Porsche of course! From 120 and on its all peddle and guts. But I observed without the rear wing, a spoiler and other aerodynamics, I find myself hesitant to venture to far into this territory with the Porsche. The vehicle is smooth enough, but lifts in the front significantly more than the Corvette. The Corvette nudges the Porsche in the straight flat runs as a result.
Final Analysis: In the verdict department, since most of my driving is short haul and in traffic, the Porsche wins out as the vehicle of choice. These are two very different sports cars and obviously are purchasing by people with preferences for different styles of driving. To say the Corvette is too Americanized or not a true sports car because it is not bred and built for the European type driving or roads is a gross misrepresentation of the nature of the vehicle. I do like it and have enjoyed driving the C-5. But frankly, I just have more plain fun driving the Porsche here, in Europe or where ever I may be driving!