Levy: Since the dawn of time, there have been Corvette people and Porsche people. Lazy automotive historians haven’t bothered to dig through the mythic pools that predate the relatively new invention of the automobile, but I guarantee you this rivalry was in full effect back when horses were pulling carts. Gives new meaning to the term ”ass engined” huh? Anyhow, never the twain shall meet. Until, maybe, now. And well, if you’ve read my humble musings, you will know that I’m a dyed in the wool Porsche guy. So I have to agree with the opening statement. I really have never been a fan of the plastic cars from Bowling Green. I had the (dis)pleasure of driving a Z06 during three days of torrential downpour early last year, and because my Mom always told me if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it — well I didn’t write about it. We had another ‘Vette too — a very base stripper with an autobox in one of those reds that only USC alumni covet and generally makes all of the Autofiend writers throw up a little in their mouths — especially when the interior is beige. That car really confirmed for me why I’m a Porsche guy. I just couldn’t get my head around it. But for some strange reason, after spending some time with a hot little yellow number last month, I’m finding myself swaying over to the other side. A little.
Lieberman: I tend to find both Porsche guys and Corvette guys tedious bores (sorry boss). That said, Porsche guys are usually a little bit more, um, correct. While Corvettes are faster (can’t replace displacement) 911s handle better (despite engines in the butt), are made of metal and feature interiors I wouldn’t mind being buried in. Knowing that, I went for a 1,000 mile road trip in the new for ’09 Corvette Z51 and must say I was shocked by how livable it is, especially when you take into account the mega-nuts level of performance. As long as you keep your hands on the wheel (and ignore the sloppy seats) the ‘Vette really is a driver’s car. From the big, legible gauges to the right-sized wheel to the why-isn’t-this-on-every-car heads up display, the yellow Chevy proved itself to be a user-friendly tool that easily chewed up miles. Even the pedals were perfectly placed. In other words, I was comfortable. Now, normally, all of the above is true about Corvettes yet they just aren’t very good to drive for more than a few laps. What gives? The Z51 suspension. It really is quite good, no?
Levy: There’s a reason the Porsche guys are more correct. Let’s talk about keeping the hands on the wheel. Yes the wheel is actually fine, not a favorite but sized OK and just on the right side of not too thick. But the problem is there is NO feedback from the road. Honestly, you get more input from a Logitech PS3 wheel in Gran Turismo 5. Sure, the hand-eye messaging is about right. Move it quick and the view out front changes correspondingly, but there’s nothing telegraphing where the actual tires are and what they are rolling over. Certainly not the case in any Porsche I’ve driven. That said the grip is phenomenal, I know you pumped the heads up G meter into the 1g range, and the ability to change direction quickly is huge, though slightly disconcerting. The big, wide, flat expanse of plastic that is the hood, stays flat no matter how fast you corner, and of course with 436 hp on tap and big fat torque deployable at the smallest throttle opening, steer by gas pedal is a squeeze of the big toe away. Didn’t we come to the conclusion that around 400 hp is the perfect number for any car?