2014 Corvette Stingray: First drive review
The redesigned sports car icon is fully refined and totally thrilling.
For the all-new seventh-generation Corvette, Chevrolet has revived the haloed Stingray name, last used in the mid-1970s. The 2014 Stingray coupe is available first, and features a Targa-type design with a storable carbon-fiber roof panel.
The Corvette, America's seminal sports car, turned 60 this year. After consistently expanding the performance and handling envelope of the sixth-generation 'Vette with standout variants such as the Z06 and ZR1, Chevrolet had likely reached the limits of that platform. Enter the Corvette Stingray, which literally stole the show at the Detroit Auto Show last January, headlining the seventh generation of General Motors' perennial halo car. This spectacular entrance was followed, shortly after, by the unveiling of the Stingray convertible at the Geneva Motor Show.
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The name Stingray has been given to very few production versions of the Corvette and was originally written as two words for the now legendary 1963 "split window" coupe. The new Stingray coupe will be available first, in the last days of summer 2013. It is a Targa-type design with a carbon-fiber roof panel that can be securely stored in the rear cargo bay. Yet the new seventh-generation Corvette — aka the C7 — was designed from the start as a convertible. This variant will be available at the end of the year, with a new canvas top that can be opened or closed in about 20 seconds at speeds of up to 30 mph, or with the key fob while parked.
Both versions share a new aluminum chassis that is 57 percent stiffer than the outgoing Z06 Corvette's, yet almost 100 pounds lighter. For the first time, the frame will be fabricated on site at the Corvette's dedicated plant in Bowling Green, Ky.
The new Corvette is 2.3 inches longer and 1.3 inches wider. Its wheelbase has grown a full inch, and its front and rear wheel tracks are wider by 0.9 and 1.0 inch. But it is also half an inch lower — your eyes will make you swear it's smaller.
The Stingray feels smaller at all times from the driver's seat, due to smart touches such as a new steering wheel that is slightly smaller in diameter. In spite of the standard carbon-fiber hood and roof, stiff magnesium seat frames and systematic use of lightweight materials, this slightly larger Corvette is about 90 pounds heavier than its predecessor. That said, it is both quicker and more fuel-efficient.
In addition to expected creature comforts, the standard kit includes a new 5-mode drive program selector with 12 variables, a new 7-speed manual gearbox with a clever rev-matching mode, full steering-wheel power adjustments, two 8-inch control and infotainment screens, keyless start, a 9-speaker Bose audio system with satellite radio and Bluetooth connectivity with multiple media connectors.
Optional packages can add a navigation system and plenty of additional luxury trim and comfort items, but the clincher is the Z51 performance package — an absolute steal at $2,800. To the engine, it adds dry-sump lubrication for safer high-load cornering and a less-restrictive variable exhaust system that adds a touch more horsepower and torque. You also get larger wheels, stickier tires, larger and tougher brakes, bigger shocks with special tuning, and a new electronic limited-slip differential with specific cooling.
Under the hood
The engine remains an overhead-valve unit with an aluminum block and heads, but it is essentially all new, save for a couple of bolts or screws. Now with direct injection, continuously variable valve timing and a host of leading-edge technologies, the 6.2-liter LT1 V8 develops 455 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 460 lb-ft of torque at 4600 rpm — numbers that go to 460 horsepower and 465 lb-ft with the Z51 package.
The standard gearbox is a new 7-speed manual with a clever rev-matching mode you turn on or off with steering-mounted paddles that are also used for the optional 6-speed automatic's manual mode. The first three gears of the manual are shorter for stronger initial acceleration. Chevrolet claims a scorching zero-to-60-mph time of 3.8 seconds for the Stingray. Launch control is available for both the manual and automatic in Track mode, one of the five modes you can pick with a drive selector knob on the console.
In spite of all this thunder, the Stingray flaunts excellent Environmental Protection Agency ratings of 17 mpg city/29 mpg highway with the manual. The highway rating even goes to 30 mpg in Eco mode, thanks to electronic cylinder deactivation that virtually turns the LT1 into a V4 engine under light loads. The system works like a charm with the manual, and it is effective in other modes with the automatic.
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New Vette is Beautiful, I have a 2003 50th annvis Z06 which I love...
if i had money i wud have this 'vette no doubt. sadly that sticker is more than i make in 3 years combined