Few Corvettes have carried the name "Stingray," fewer still have deserved it. But for the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette, Chevy has once again applied the name "Stingray" to the car, a testament to the thoroughness of the seventh-generation "C7" Corvette's redesign. More than just body panels and a tweaked engine, the 2014 Corvette Stingray is a complete rethinking of what a Corvette can be. In fact, this may be the most comprehensively new Corvette since the 1953 original.
But that doesn't mean unfamiliar. There's still a V-8 engine in front, powering the rear wheels through a rear-mounted transaxle. It seats only two; it's still a hatchback; and its styling is still as American as baseball, apple pie and, well, Chevrolet.
But what is new is the Corvette's newfound sense of refinement. Gone are the cheap seats, replaced with your choice of touring or sport models, both significantly better than the ones they replace. The lowball plastics of the interior are replaced with high quality surfaces, real aluminum and carbon fiber trim, and a leather-covered dash. The switchgear is unique to the Corvette, and the two 8-inch LCD screens--one mounted in the gauge pod--are also Corvette exclusives.
Structurally, there's virtually nothing carried over from the standard C6. The structure is now aluminum, similar to the Z06, saving a significant amount of weight. Carbon fiber panels are used on the roof and hood, and composite is used on most of the rest of the exterior panels. The redesigned 6.2-liter V-8 engine now puts out 450 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque, and is connected to an all-new seven-speed manual transmission (a six-speed automatic is available).
Then there are the looks. Shocking at first, the Corvette looks as if it went to a European finishing school. All the old Corvette cues are there: the long hood and sloping windshield; the four-element taillights; the unmistakable swagger. But it's all chiseled and refined. The taillights, while retaining the classic two-to-a-side design, are part of a larger styling expression on the rear. There are functional brake ducts on the front, and the vented hood actually helps keep the Corvette's nose planted at high speeds. And if you look closely, there's a new badge, a Stingray, right behind the front fender vents.
Who It's For
The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette is aimed at two different audiences. First, there are those who are shopping for a sports car, and want something fast and fun. This, the new car promises in spades. But there's a second audience, one that may never even purchase the car, for whom the C7 Corvette is intended. The newfound emphasis on refinement targets not just buyers, but those who have never taken the Corvette seriously. We won't know until we drive it, but at first look, it seems as if Chevrolet has finally, at long last, shaken off the essential crudity that has been a part of the Corvette since it was introduced. If that's borne out from behind the steering wheel, Corvette haters will suddenly find themselves with much less to criticize.
There's so much new about the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette that we can't possibly list it all here. But there are a few noteworthy things that immediately jumped out at us.
- The styling. It's immediately recognizable, but the details are distinctly different from its predecessor. Chevrolet has updated the styling, and kept the classic Corvette aesthetic, without resorting to overtly "retro" touches.
- The interior. THIS is what a Corvette interior should have been all along. Elegant, cocoon-like, and with high-quality touches throughout. What's not to like?
- More power. It's not as if the Corvette was slow or anything. But with the base model offering up 450 horsepower, it bodes well for future high-performance models.
- More gadgets. We like the idea of a user-configurable gauge display, user-controllable driving modes, and the continuation of the Z51 performance package.
- Eco mode. No, seriously. The new V-8 has active cylinder management, meaning it can switch off half its cylinders for better fuel economy.
What We Think
The palpable excitement of a new Corvette is hard to overstate. As this iconic car enters its seventh generation, and celebrates its 60th anniversary, Chevrolet looks like it's doing something it hasn't done for decades: acknowledge the competition. It's not as if the Corvette has existed in a vacuum, of course. The Porsche 911 vs. Corvette rivalry is as legendary as any. But the fact remains that when they weren't reveling in their performance-per-dollar smarts, Corvette owners were putting up with shoddy interiors, wonky seats, questionable reliability, and an image that skewed more toward gold chains than gold medals. Chevrolet has steadily improved upon all these areas over the years, but with the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette, it looks to have finally made the leap it should have decades ago.
We'll see if we'll plant that flag for real after we have a chance to drive it.
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