“What a weird time to get a Corvette.”
My friends are right. The high is currently 23 degrees Fahrenheit, and my press loaner – the Z51-equipped Stingray Coupe – is wearing Michelin Pilot Super Sports, regarded as among the best sports-car tires … when it’s warm out. Under about 40 degrees, they turn into grip-less blocks of ice, and when you’re driving a car that possesses even more torque (460) than it does horsepower (455), grip is paramount. Experiences with older Corvettes had my friends believing I would end up so far off the road that the USPS would have to give me my own street address.
I, too, believed that the all-new-for-2014 Stingray would be just a bit too powerful for weather patterns atypical of San Diego in July. Thankfully, we were all wrong. Chevrolet knocked this one out of the park, pushing the Corvette just upmarket enough to provide a more-than-capable grand tourer without losing anything that made the car great in its previous iterations. It’s nice and calm when you want to drive like a geriatric, but when you’re ready to engage your inner preteen, the car will give you more than you know what to do with.
Even with that Z51 package – a track-ready collection consisting of a limited-slip differential, dry-sump oil system, performance suspension and gear ratios, bigger brakes, and the aforementioned summer tires – the car is more than willing to live in whatever environment you throw it into. That said, it would be very smart of you to spring for some snow tires.
Is this even a Corvette interior? Everything feels so nice. The standard seats are supportive and more than comfortable enough for longer road trips – a far cry from the leather-wrapped milk crates in older models. The inclusion of two screens – one for the dashboard and one for the center console – also contributes to that 21st-century feeling without feeling over-engineered or pointlessly included.
Everything is driver-focused in the cockpit, with the exception of the redundant passenger-side HVAC controls – and even those are built with the intention of keeping the passenger’s hands away from the shifter and center console in general. The inclusion of two passenger-side oh-shit handles means that you have even more reason to ignore your screaming co-driver and push harder around the upcoming corner.
This car has singlehandedly turned more heads than any other vehicle we’ve tested this year. It has a look that screams, “I might be a man-child, but I’m having far too much fun to notice.” The rear end borrows more than a few pages from the design books of Lockheed Martin or McDonnell Douglas, but not enough that you want to take your shirt off and play some oddly-competitive volleyball to a Kenny Loggins soundtrack. Its styling is far less smooth this time around, and its angles are reminiscent of a European exotic.
It’s just a damn good looking car, something that kids will want to have on a bedroom poster.
On the Road
Even without the drive-mode selector in Eco – which turns on the fuel-saving cylinder deactivation – the Corvette manages nearly 30 mpg on the highway at decent speeds. There’s also a somewhat-annoying skip-shift that takes you directly from first to fourth gear, but that’s easily overridden by letting the revs climb just a bit higher in first.
But who gives a crap about that, aside from the EPA? This is a Corvette, and power delivery is what matters most. And that power is available in just about every gear at every speed. If you’re a fan of announcing your presence, make sure to spring for the optional multi-mode exhaust; moving the drive-mode selector to Sport or Track opens up an internal valve that gives the exhaust a sound bordering on aftermarket. A cold start in Sport is enough to have the neighbors leaving notes on your windshield the following morning.
The Stingray is a brilliant value, coming with an MSRP that’s nearly 25 percent lower than its overseas competition. Of course, since Chevrolet still keeps bean-counters on the payroll, some corners needed to be cut along the way, some more annoying than others. The car does like to shake a bit at idle, and at low speeds the brakes will squeak like mice in Gitmo, but those flaws are expected in a car that still places performance over all else.
By far, the most unforgivable flaw of the car was the fender rub. Even before you’ve turned the steering wheel to full lock in either direction, the wheels and tires will start smacking around on pieces of the Corvette’s fender liners. This is especially annoying when backing out of driveways and parking lots, or while making tight turns at slow speeds. It’s almost like the car has aftermarket wheels with incorrect offsets. Come on.
Specs & Price
Engine: 6.2-liter naturally-aspirated V-8
Transmission: Seven-speed manual or six-speed automatic
Power Output: 455 hp / 460 lb-ft
Fuel Economy: 17 city / 29 highway
Base Price: $53,800
As Tested: $62,085 (incl. $995 destination)
Optional Features: 2LT Package (Bose premium audio, heated and ventilated seats, auto-dimming mirrors, head-up display, colored console and door panels, lumbar adjustment, seat emblems), 3LT Package (2LT Package plus leather-wrapped interior, Nappa leather seats, navigation, instrument panel in interior color), Magnetic Selective Ride Control (active suspension damping), painted wheels, painted brake calipers, multi-mode exhaust, transparent roof panel, sport bucket seats.
By Andrew Krok – Web2Carz.com