The Chevrolet Corvette has always been something of a redneck at a Yale Skull and Bones meeting. It may have all the performance accolades in the world, but it somehow just doesn't belong with the rest of the world's sports cars: too brash and unsophisticated. Chevrolet wants to change that perception.
As it did with the previous generation Corvette, Chevrolet is launching the newest variant of the Corvette abroad first, a not-too-subtle move that shows the Corvette wants to come out and play with the sophisticates. The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray had its welcome party first at the 2013 North American International Auto Show. But rather than introduce the convertible version in New York or somewhere similar, it chose Geneva, where Porsches, BMWs, and the world's best premier cars often bow first. There's a method to this madness.
Who It's For
The people who buy Corvettes are typically in their 50s and 60s, well past the point of attempting to cover their silver hair, have potbellies, wear Corvette-branded leather jackets, and like to pretend they're still in college fraternities. While they have the money to afford a Corvette, they're not the sort Chevrolet wants.
Porsche's buyers aren't much younger, to be honest, but they exude a sense of white-collar erudition that the very successful plumber in his Corvette lacks. That's who Chevrolet wants to attract with the new Corvette Stingray. It wants to be an aspirational sports car with young and old, alike, instead of just the sports car of choice in Boca Raton.
Looking sharper and more radical than any Corvette since the 1963 Corvette--also called "Stingray"--succeeded the first-generation model, the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible has:
- A canvas power soft-top that was designed for the new model from the onset. This is no coupe-to-convertible chop job.
- The same 450-horsepower LT1 V-8 engine from the coupe, paired with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.
- The Chevrolet Corvette has electric power steering for the first time and tons of new tech.
What We Think
Undoubtedly a far better car than the outgoing Corvette convertible--even though that car was a hoot and a half to drive--the 2014 Corvette Stingray treads new ground in that it has a far nicer interior, tons of new features, and a sharper style than its predecessor. It really is reaching for a far greater international engine.
But not to rain too much on the Corvette's parade, it's still the same brute it's always been. It's quintessentially American: scruffy, nonchalant, and unapologetic. It may find a bigger audience in Europe, as Chevrolet hopes, but we wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't. Chevrolet is perceived as a budget brand over there.
But back in America the beautiful, it's going to do just fine. It may not open too many new channels or find too many younger shoppers. But it will ultimately satisfy the people who buy Corvettes. Corvette owners shouldn't care about what others think; as long as they're happy with the car, that Porsche in the rearview mirror couldn't matter less.
Back to Auto Show Coverage: Geneva 2013