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Full-bore shifting

particularly impressive. Oh, and the heads-up speed/revs/temperature display is a throwback to the bonnet-mounted tachom-

hovering birds into early migration.

The Corvette really is imposing, its shape casting a massive shadow on Mother Earth - it is 80 mm longer, 60 mm wider and 15 mm lower than the Aston and sits on an 85 mm longer wheelbase yet, significantly, the aluminium-bodied Z06 weighs around 190 kg less than the already lightened Aston.The more generous dimensions help create a far more accommodating cabin and the man-sized shifter falls right to hand - and to the right hand, as this Corvette is a left-hooker.The seat is probably no more supportive than the Aston's but the steering wheel is better angled and the view across and along the bonnet is truly inspirational, the pronounced fenders being eters of '60s muscle cars. However, the ride is noticeably stiffer than the N420's and cabin noise is greater - Granted, the car had dodgy electrics (see The

Strip sidebar) but the Corvette's bulging personality appealed greatly to the senses. Forever wary of its width and left-hand drive, the Z06 nevertheless was far from intimidating. Clearly, however, this was not to be a battle of wimps...

Having established that both cars were capable of repeated, rubber-laying "horizon haulm'" acceleration runs-the Corvette in particular lighting-up the tyres at will with so much torque available, but full-bore shifting from fourth to fifth required care - the demands of Zwartkops realised a different proposition. Going out first in the Aston, Sideways Sabine ("I really enjoy drifting") was full of anticipation of having a pow-

Aston Martin N420 - "Wow, a good car, consistent brakes but it is very heavy, especially at the front. But it turns-in when you want it to and finding the fast exit is quite easy. Good feeling from the steering and the jA clutch is fine."

One of the best soundtracks around, and possibly the best Vantage ever, too.

One of the best soundtracks around, and possibly the best Vantage ever, too.

Big, wide and a bit rough around the edges, but the Chevy Corvette charmed everyone. The engine is a masterpiece.

Download exhaust tones Q View the video on...

Big, wide and a bit rough around the edges, but the Chevy Corvette charmed everyone. The engine is a masterpiece.

Chevrolet Corvette Z06 - "Ah, yes, I like it very much. Love the seven-litre engine. Not frustrated any more now that the ESP is completely off, I had fun. Everything is perfect, brakes are really good, nothing to complain about. Every lap was the same."

Sonorous soundtrack erful rear wheel-drive road car to play with. Accelerating from the pit lane and plunging into the tight right-hander that is Turn 1, Sabine quickly exclaimed "Ooooh, this is heavy!" shortly followed by "Wow, what a sound!" as she kept the pedal to the, er, carpet, and changed up to third through the next, flowing righthander. A hard dab on the brakes to settle the car forTurn 3's high g-force exit followed by heavy braking and a change down to second for the double 90-degree right-handers that make up the "table top'.'The

N420 was clearly an effort to hustle but Sabine was relishing the challenge, shouting comments that were being drowned out by the exhaust, as within the allowed couple of flying laps she began to maximise the racing line. Grip was astounding, the 19-inch 235/40 front and 275/35 rear Bridgestone rubber helping generate eyeball-rolling g forces through the faster sections of the circuit including the entry and exit of the pit straight. By the end of the short stint, Sabine was revelling in the physical combat, diving deeper into the corners and enjoying the sonorous soundtrack.

By now "in the groove',' Sabine's opening lap in the Corvette elicited a "This car's castrated!" evaluation - she had not completely switched-out the two-stage traction control and although stage one allowed a reasonable degree of latitude, it was destroying her style. Once fully switched-out, the Z06's free-for-all traction mode brought an even brighter sparkle to Sabine's eyes. Despite massive 19-inch 305/30 gumballs on the rear wheels (285/35s on the fronts), there was so much torque to break traction that Sabine was steering as much with the throttle as she was with the wheel, every slip and slide accompa nied by a burst of laughter or an expressive "yeeeehaaaa'.' "Too much is never enough," I shouted. "For sure! I love this engine," she responded while applying some opposite lock to the helm.

Which was the best ride? Each had its own good and bad points, but throughout the weekend Sabine was being asked which cars she enjoyed the most and the Z06 was always mentioned. Not all of the test team were as convinced but in the end the Corvette got the nod - just. Such a pity that being left-hand drive only it is not available for sale in SA.

"Er, over here Mr Bond.Your carriage awaits..."

Continued overleaf ยป

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