First Look: 2009 Chevrolet Corvette

The seven-speed manual transmission is a blast, with notchy, sharp throws and a firm clutch. There's no greater high than having full control over a roaring V-8—but no greater low than GM's awful skip-shift technology, which locks out second and third gear in everyday driving to force a first-to-fourth gear change in the name of fuel economy. There are a couple ways to defeat it, including revving the crap out of the engine, but the most foolproof and permanent method involves pulling a fuse. Why, GM, why?

That's the sum total of my gripes from behind the wheel. The car was nigh-impossible to upset in the twisties, even with a set of Patrick Stewart-bald rear tires after a few months in the hands of children other automotive journalists. (Surely the Z07 Ultimate Performance package, which adds the sport-tuned suspension of the Z06 and a set of Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes, had something to do with that.) But the famous magnetic ride control and the car's electronic limited-slip differential out back still kept things composed on a few stretches of deteriorating pavement high above Malibu. The Grand Sport is practically on rails, especially without the extra power of the Z06 to upset the balance. The Corvettes of old used to be derided as "point and shoot;" that is, unable to handle anything other than a straight line. Well it's high time the modern 'Vette reclaims the phrase as a badge of honor, because if you point this car's steering wheel in any direction, you can be sure as shit this Chevy will shoot that way.

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