In about the same amount of time it takes to read this sentence, the new '05 Chevy Corvette can accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h). Four seconds.

What more needs to be said about the Corvette? The legacy of the greatest American sports car grows richer with the advent of its sixth generation.

The ride and handling upgrades offered by the C6 don't repeat the quantum leap experienced in 1997, when the big fifth-generation Corvette pushed aside the skinny C4. But the C6 still will turn heads, its sunken hood and crested fenders resembling Ferrari's 575M and Dodge Viper from the A-pillar forward. It oozes tension.

Pricing for the base coupe with the standard 6-speed manual transmission begins at $44,245 — a $1,305 reduction compared with the base '04 Corvette. The '05 coupe currently is hitting dealerships.

The base '05 convertible equipped with the manual gearbox sells for $52,245, or $305 less than the '04 convertible. The ragtop launches this fall.

The C6 offers more horsepower for less money than the C5. The new base 6L V-8 cranks out 400 hp — up from the C5's 350 hp — and achieves a top speed of 186 mph (299 km/h), making it the fastest Corvette in its 51-year history.

A pilot's license should be required. Actually, the C6 is easier to drive than its predecessor, thanks to its structure, suspension and size. The raw, rough-edged power of past 'Vettes has been sharpened to razor-like performance for the new car.

The wheelbase is more than 1 in. (2.5 cm) longer than the C5's, but the C6's overall length is nearly 5 ins. (12.7 cm) shorter and about 0.5 in. (1.3 cm) narrower than its predecessor. The C6's smaller size is expected to generate increased interest in Europe.

Suspension cradles, control arms, knuckles, springs, dampers, bushings, stabilizer bars and steering gear all have been redesigned. The three suspension choices include the optional F55 Magnetic Selective Ride Control suspension and the Z51 Performance Package. Each suspension offers standard antilock brakes, traction control and active handling. The result is less body roll and pitch sensitivity. If drivers sense any shake, rattle and roll, it's likely coming from the optional Bose audio system.

Want to swing your rear end? Hit the dance floor. It's more likely to happen there than on the road. The C6 handles its power and corners better than the C5, ripping around turns and bends at GM's challenging Proving Grounds track in Milford, MI.

The brutish 6L LS2, based on GM's Gen IV small-block family, responds at all speeds. It is mated to a Tremec 6-speed manual or GM's Hydra-Matic 4L65-E 4-speed automatic. The 3-pedal version is greatly improved, with shorter, smoother gear shifts.

The Corvette cockpit is more user-friendly and elegant. The mood more closely resembles the luxury Cadillac XLR than the performance-aimed Pontiac GTO.

The cabin offers more head and leg room, and the seats are more comfortable. Satin-nickel adorns the center console and circles the analog instrument clusters. Corvette now is equipped with the keyless access and push-button ignition system that debuted with its XLR structure-mate.

The pop-up headlights are absent for the first time in more than 40 years. Despite purist protest, it's the right decision. Considering the extreme focus placed on Corvette's wind-tunnel performance, it was baffling to nullify the car's front-end aerodynamics every time its lights were turned on.

File the flight plan. It's time for takeoff. Sales may do just that when driving enthusiasts experience the C6.

'05 Chevrolet Corvette

Vehicle type: Front-engine, rear-wheel drive, 2-passenger 2-door coupe

Engine: 6L (5,967 cc) OHV V-8, aluminum block/aluminum heads

Power (SAE net): 400 hp @ 6,000 rpm

Torque: 400 lb.-ft. (542 Nm) @ 4,400 rpm

Compression ratio: 10.9:1

Bore × stroke (mm): 101.6 × 92

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Wheelbase: 106 ins. (269 cm)

Overall length: 175 ins. (444 cm)

Overall width: 73 ins. (184 cm)

Overall height: 49 ins. (125 cm)

Curb weight: 3,179 lbs. (1,442 kg)

Competition: Nissan 350Z; Porsche 911