The buzz around the 2014 Corvette Stingray has been intense since the all-new seventh generation (C7) was unveiled earlier this year in Detroit and I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel. I got my chance recently when Chevrolet invited me out to California to test drive this incredible new version of the iconic sports car. I drove the new Vette on long stretches of remote roads near Monterey and Carmel that offered winding paths, tight turns and inviting straightaways, and then we had the opportunity to push it even further on an autocross coarse set up for us by the Corvette team. The experience blew me away.
The executives at Chevrolet wanted to make a statement with the design of the new C7 and they obviously succeeded. The new design generated rave reviews from the moment is was unveiled as the designers created a completely new vehicle as opposed to the more incremental styling changes we saw with the C5 and C6. The Corvette team provided us with a Corvette from each of the previous six generations so we could see up close the design changes over the years.
The bold new design also moved the brand team to revive the iconic Stingray name with the new Corvette, and I certainly agree that this new model lives up to that legacy without relying on a retro design. The new design is stunning and the Corvette looks beautiful from all angles.
The most controversial design change involved the rear tail lights with a departure from the classic, rounded lights in favor of new angular lights. Some Corvette purists were disappointed, but the designers wanted a bold, new look and the result looks fantastic. The designers came up with a new look for the tail lights that work for this Corvette design, and that’s why the entire package looks so good.
The designers explained that function helped drive the design process and that the team was heavily inspired by the Corvette racing team. Every vent on the new Corvette has an important cooling function, and the beautiful curves of the new car serve important aerodynamic functions. The new Corvette Stingray shares only two parts with the previous-generation Corvette, incorporating an all-new frame structure and chassis and a new powertrain and supporting technologies.
The designers of the new Corvette made the interior a priority as well. The goal was to provide a more upscale interior to go with the bold exterior design and to enhance the driver’s connection to the Corvette. The result is a high-tech, cockpit feel coupled with a much more luxurious experience where every surface is covered with premium, soft-touch materials such as hand-wrapped leather with elegant stitching. Other highlights include carbon fiber and aluminum trim, two high-definition, configurable screens and a smaller steering wheel.
Buyers can also choose between two seating choices: a GT seat for all-around comfort and a Competition Sport seat with more aggressive side bolstering for more support on the track. By observing high-performance driving experiences, designers included a steel-reinforced grab bar on the center console for the passenger and soft-touch materials on the edge of the console where the driver naturally braces during high-load cornering.
I was in the Corvette practically all day and the level of comfort is impressive for a sports car, whether you’re cruising on the highway or powering through a tight corner. For the driver, everything is laid out nicely and the center console screen is angled towards the driver, and the driver displays vary depending on the driver mode selected.
For years the Corvette has set the standard for performance as it could stack up to exotic sports cars that cost much more. In its price range nothing has come close for years, and the new C7 continues that tradition by setting the bar even higher.
The new Stingray features an all-new 6.2L LT1 V-8 engine with direct injection, Active Fuel Management, continuously variable valve timing and an advanced combustion system that delivers more power while using less fuel. The result is the most powerful standard Corvette model ever, with an estimated 450 horsepower (335 kW) and 450 lb.-ft. of torque (610 Nm). The Corvette accelerates from 0-60 in less than four seconds and achieves more than 1g in cornering grip.
Amazingly, the new Corvette will be the most efficient sports car on the market, with EPA-estimated 17 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. It also features a new seven-speed manual transmission with Active Rev Matching that anticipates gear selections and matches engine speed.
For our test drives I picked Vettes with the track-capable Z51 Performance Package which makes this incredible car even more impressive. The package includes an electronic limited-slip differential, dry-sump oiling system, integral brake, differential and transmission cooling, along with a unique aero package that further improves high-speed stability.
I loved the new Driver Mode Selector dial that offers five drive modes that adjust 12 individual vehicle attributes. The modes include Weather, Eco, Tour, Sport and Track so you can easily adjust your driving experience with a turn of the dial. I experimented with all of them except for Weather mode as we have a beautiful day for our drive. The Eco and Tour modes were excellent for city and highway driving, as the Corvette still felt like a badass sports car but you got the benefit of a comfortable drive and even better gas mileage in Eco mode.
But just switch the Corvette to Sport mode and you can feel and hear it unleash the beast within with the kind of engine growl that makes us love to drive and push the engine. And I definitely pushed it! On deserted roads with tight, winding curves followed by long straightaways, I got to experience much of what this Corvette can do. The acceleration blew my mind, and the incredible cornering grip had me pushing it harder and harder around the curves, each time coming away more impressed with what the Vette could do. Driving this car was pure joy.
Then we got to take it on an autocross course set up by the Corvette team with a professional driver in the passenger seat giving us tips. I put the Vette in track mode and took off. Fortunately they gave me six laps, so I was able to improve dramatically as I learned the course with each lap. It was amazing what the Corvette could do in track mode and how hard you could push it around the corners. I could have driven on that track all day.
The final treat of the day had us driving each of the six older Corvettes that they had available for us so we could see the evolution of the performance over the years, including a C1 from 1954, a C2 from 1966, a C3 from 1972, a C4 from 1987, and C5 from 2001 and a C6 from 2013. Check back as I’ll write a separate article about that incredible experience.
The 2014 Corvette Stingray more than lives up to the hype. This is a car driving enthusiasts will love, particularly when many of today’s top sports cars are moving towards paddle shifters in place of classic manual stick shifts. Here drivers have a real choice between the manual and the automatic. And the versatility of the new Corvette makes it more than just a badass sports car, as you can enjoy driving it and feel very comfortable on all roads and in all conditions.
With a base price of $51,995 there’s no car out there that can match this sexy beast. Even with the Z51 package it’s a much better value than all its competitors. The all-new Corvette Stingray will be in showrooms this month and the convertible should be available by the end of the year. Check it out!
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