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Callaway Of the Quarter - July - September 2007

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2006 Callaway SuperCharged 560 Test & Development Car

     

Living Under Pressure – We Spend time with Callaway’s latest unnaturally aspirated Corvette.

            Twenty-eight point six. Better than the twenty-seven miles per gallon the EPA rates the new six-speed automatic Corvette for highway fuel economy. That number was what our onboard drivers information computer calculated our average fuel economy at as we closed out our first day of driving the new Callaway SuperCharged 560 (horsepower) Corvette convertible. Clicking through the additional screens on the dashboard display, we were told we had covered just shy of one thousand miles since the sun had come up. One THOUSAND miles!

            While that distance may sound like a chore, make no mistake about the new SuperCharged 560 Corvette, it is a breeze to drive and desires to keep going! Granted, Chevrolet did a magnificent job with the base platform that for us began as a 2006 Z51 convertible with the new paddle-shift automatic, complete with six forward gears, replacing the previous gearbox having four. What that translates to for the consumer, is the aforementioned efficiency, along with a host of other benefits that include a greater degree of smoothness between shifts, thanks to shallower drops between gears, along with stellar off-the-line performance, due to the Hydra-Matic 6L80’s ultra-low 4.02:1 first gear ratio. The fuel economy comes from the double-overdrive in fifth and sixth gears of 0.85:1 and 0.67:1 respectively.

            During our drive of Callaway’s new force-fed Corvette, we discovered three unique modes of operation for the transmission. Placing the transmission into drive, I noticed quickly that the familiar shift pattern was gone, replaced with “P-R-N-D-S” icons adjacent to the shift lever. With the “OD” and “D” patterns gone, Drive and Sport fill the bottom two positions. Drive mode operates through a series of programmed shift points throughout the gears while the Sport mode operates through a different set of shift patterns when the computer determines the vehicle is operations in a performance sense. The shifts were firmer in the Sport mode as well, but without sacrifice to overall comfort in the vehicle. The third mode available is the manual operation of the automatic transmission through a set of steering wheel mounted paddles. With a thumb-tap forward of a paddle, the car will up in gears while a tap on the back of the paddle, will bring it down in gear selection. Sensing the vehicle and engine speeds, tapping the button back too many times, you will see an “X” displayed on the heads up monitor, indicating the car’s refusal to over-rev the car through the improper selection of gears. Enough of the details though, let’s get back to driving!

            Picking up the SuperCharged 560 Callaway in Old Lyme, Connecticut, my instructions from the Callaway staff were clear, “have fun and enjoy the car!” No problem! Situating my luggage into the car, the trunk has a surprisingly large amount of space with the convertible top up, certainly more than some previous generations of the Corvette. Again, Chevrolet has done a great job with the base platform. With my luggage stowed, I slid behind the wheel and pushed the dash mounted ignition switch. Being an automatic, one has to have their foot on the brake to make that happen. Pulling the shifter back into “D,” I would leave my exploration of the other transmission modes for later.

With a pleasant burble coming from the back of the car, Callaway fits their Double-D cat-back exhaust as part of the SuperCharged 560 package. Aside from the music coming from the LS2’s exhaust, the next thing noticed on the car was a new domed hood. Required to clear the Callaway Magnacharger casing and air inlet, the company specified a hood that would be functional for clearance yet not detract from the tasteful styling of the overall car. From behind the wheel, the rise in the hood, reminded me of time spent behind the wheel of the Callaway C12 supercar and its hood, which shares some design cues with this car’s design. 

Speaking of the Magnacharger, Callaway’s package, delivering 160 additional horsepower and 100 lb-ft of torque over the base LS2 car, seemed to deliver without compromise. The supercharger itself, is installed upon a mechanically stock LS2 with zero internal modifications necessary. The housing for the supercharger is a high volume unit, displacing 112 cubic inches and has a tri-rotor design with an internal bypass valve. This valve, which directs airflow around the blower tract during part throttle driving, makes for a very efficient package that takes approximately a half-horsepower to spin when not under boost.

The crank driven belt spins the supercharger shaft, back toward a second belt that rotates the blower lobes, ultimately developing six pounds of boost, under full load. A liquid-cooler that utilizes a mixture of water is mounted under the blower housing. Its purpose is to remove heat from the compressed intake air charge. Translation – The cooler air allows for a more dense charge into the combustion chambers for greater efficiency.  End result, is an automatic convertible that runs the quarter mile in 11.5 seconds at 122 mph – a time quicker than the new Corvette Z06!    

Other components added for the Callaway SuperCharged 560 package are to include, a modified Honker airbox designed for use with the supercharger, along with many of the trim details similar to those found on the SuperNatural™ 490 Callaway we tested (C.E. Nov. 2006).  Callaway has also reprogrammed the cars PCM computer for optimal performance, requiring the use of premium-unleaded fuel – a reminder decal for that was affixed inside our test car’s gas door lid.

Back on the road, we enjoyed the many features added to the current C6, including the simple operation of the convertible top, which when up, was well insulated, keeping road noises at bay. The cloth top, by the way was also water tight, as we traveled through some torrential storms along our route. Arriving in Kentucky at the 12th Birthday Bash at the National Corvette Museum, we had an opportunity to put the car through its paces in an autocross event held there. Earning a trophy in the process, this was a great follow-up to a class win for the car at the autocross the previous week at the Corvettes at Carlisle show, by Mike Zoner of Callaway Cars! With many onlookers aware of the car from the supercharger whistle & whine coming from under the hood as I rounded the track, there seemed to be quite a bit of interest that weekend in my borrowed ride.

Closing out the weekend at the museum, we checked the onboard computer once again as it continued to calculate our mpg rating, Even with our heavy foot throughout the weekend and the autocross racing, the car was still showing an amazing 26.5mpg average! Heading back towards the east coast, we realized the trip odometer that we had reset to zero in Old Lyme, reset itself as we passed two thousand miles with the car.  Interestingly enough, at about the same time, we refilled our gas tank and the computer then showed an astounding 520-mile range for the car. When we had a chance to drive the six-speed manual SuperNatural™ 490 Convertible, I had suggested that if the car was an automatic; it might have been the perfect car. Well I can tell you with even more power on tap and no gears to row, this supercharged version is more than a heavy contender with is host of virtues!

Back in town, we used the car daily over the following week (see sidebar). In stop and go traffic, you can utilize the paddle-shift functions to one’s advantage, spending less time with your foot dancing between the gas pedal and brake. Out on some of the most serene back roads of the Mid-Atlantic region; we exercised the Sport mode of the transmission, exploring the SuperCharged 560’s virtues further. With precise upshifts in the paddle-shift mode, the car would lunge forward like a locomotive and never seemed to want to stop pulling. One of the virtues of this package, it seems, is the ability to never run out of breath! Tapping the paddle back toward us on one of the redundant steering wheel controls, the downshifts were predictable and never abrupt. Selecting the correct gear, we could move into the correct rpm range going into a curve and under boost, the car acted like it was catapulted from a slingshot as it exited.

Delivering the car back to Callaway Cars, I headed along the coastline of Connecticut, grabbing lunch with Mike Zoner and looked back on the past few weeks’ experiences with the convertible. With the odometer registering an additional 2,519 miles since our initial departure, we had gained some valuable seat time in the new SuperCharged 560 Corvette, experienced the paddle-shift automatic, and had a chance to put the car through its paces on the track. While having a lobster roll sandwich at a restaurant on the Patchogue River near the famed “Singing Bridge” certainly took some of the sting of giving back such an amazing car, I do admit, I wish this one was mine for keeps.  - C.C.

Sidebar – Another point of view:

“I am in love with this car!” For the first time ever, one of my girlfriends caught me making such a statement about a car – something I had never done before.

My husband, Chris, has brought home many cars over the years. While some have been practical such as our SUV, other has been far less family oriented, especially the Corvettes. While I understand his interests, I have just never been excited to drive any of the cars he brings home whether his, or others he has been given the task to evaluate or write about. That was, until he came home with that bright red convertible…

Arriving home late at night on a Sunday, he pulled into the garage, tucking the car away for the night. It wasn’t until the next day that I saw it. I asked Chris, “is it ours,” as he has bought cars before without conversation. After an explanation of the car and all, I asked, “is it an automatic?” With the answer being yes, he suggested I should drive the car at some point, as it might be interesting to hear another opinion on the car. Five minutes later, I had the top down and was heading for the grocery store!

 I can attest that a full week’s worth of groceries fit into the trunk without any trouble – and that was with the top down! While the car caused quite a stir at the grocery store as I loaded my parcels, in a few moments, I was back to driving. Later in the evening, Chris wanted to take some pictures and asked if I wouldn’t mind driving the car. SURE! I quickly fired back, jumping back behind the wheel. As we traveled down an isolated road, I put my foot into the gas. The excitement of the whirrs that were coming from under the hood was electrifying. As I kept my foot down on the gas pedal, the feeling I had was mesmerizing. With my husband acting as my conscience, I slowed as we neared civilization, bringing the rush to an end.

As we were set to return the car I asked Mike Zoner if we could buy the car, as I was in love. “Sure,” he said, everything is for sale…         - Natasha Chessnoe

        For additional information about the SuperCharged 560 Callaway C6 or a listing of authorized dealers in your area, contact Callaway Cars at 860.434.9002 or, www.callawaycars.com.

©  2007 Chris Chessnoe and the Callaway Owners Group – all rights reserved.

 

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