2014 Corvette Stingray: America's Supercar (CNET On Cars, Episode 26)The all-new Vette Stingray: low tech in ways that work! Filling your car at home, and we don't mean with electricity. Plus, five classic muscle cars that saw the future.
-Just a sync and here we go. The all new Vette Stingray, low-tech in ways that works, filling your car at home and we don't mean electricity and 5 classic muscle cars that saw the future. Time to check the tech. We see cars differently. We love them on the road and under the hood, but also check the tech and are known for telling it like it is. The good, the bad, the bottom line, this is CNET on Cars. I'm Brian Cooley. Welcome to CNET on Cars, the show all about high-tech cars and modern driving. Now few cars are as iconic as the Chevy Corvette which I would hazard to guess to say has graced more t-shirts, coffee mugs, and tattooed cabs than any other in history. So when an all new Corvette arrives, it's something of a national holiday. Let's take a little time off right now to get in the 2014 Corvette Stingray, all new and check the tech. Few cars are a storied as the Vette, in fact, 60 years ago we got the first one-- 50 years ago, the first Stingray version and now it's all back together again for gen-7, the 2014 Corvette Stingray. Let's take a tour with this new 7th generation Vette. First up, a proportions are about the same and by the way, they point out they're remarkably close to a Porsche 911. I've never really seen that in it. Look at the front of this guy, there's a lot of Ferrari DNA in here. I mean this is a very different face, easiest way to spot the new Vette. The hood is carbon-fiber, very, very light. Same thing goes for the roof panel, all these guys have carbon-fiber roof, you can't see it but underneath here, all aluminum frame and sub-frames which is stocked now on every single one of the new Vettes and of course a lot of these fenders and other panels are made of sheathe molding compound, a high-tech plastic, so I'm not sure you can get a fridge magnet that stick to this car anywhere. Now it gets real controversial back here, these tail lights, this whole cluster here is either the new look of Corvette or if you're more of doubter in the various chat rooms and forums, a travesty that is too much Camaro or Malibu. Very unique here, these are all the trumpets of hell. These things go to a dual-exhaust system out to 4 tips that has this mechanical actuator that opens up a valve back here for a whole lot more below and more flow and this thing can actually add 5 horse and 5 foot pounds if you have the performance exhaust system. Little free flow does wonders. Okay now the roof's a big story on this new Vette. All of the supposed hard top actually have a liftoff roof. You can't get a true hard top Vette, at least not yet in this 7th generation. You can get these in body color, clear carbon, or for $1,000 optional, a clear smoke top that could be kind of cool. Now let's put it away. You put these under these front clips, drop it in here, snatch into place. How do you get your luggage in and out of there? Well, the fronts are kinda like pivots so you can still get here like it's a lid, kinda clever and does not clobber too much of your rear cargo space. All right, the first big news about the new Vette is the cabin. They've upholstered basically everything. No hard plastic under-sheathing is really showing except a very few places and the texture there is nice as well. Now you may have already notice the other way they've upholstered this car, they've upholstered it with LCDs. This one carry Chevy MyLink, nothing dramatically new here. We've seen this before in Chevy vehicles. Over here though is very different. This is the instrument panel for the Vette, the main panel is full of LCD, though, notice she would still got us a mechanical speedo and the mechanical fuel gauge and temperature gauge. However, what's in the middle there is very cool. You could either be in Eco mode-- yes, there's an eco-mode on the Vette. We'll talk about MPG in a minute, it's pretty darn good. Kick it again you go to Touring, this is kinda your everyday driving mode that isn't tuned down for Eco. Hit it one more time now you go to Sport, look what happens, you get very tachometer centric and you pick up two more virtual gauges for oil pressure and oil temperature and your last click over to the right is the Track mode. When you do that, you get a hockey stick rpm bar and you also get your track times best, previous and current for actual track runs when you're using your launch control. In combination with that, I've got the best hud yet on an American car. It's quite bright and if I go through the information button right here, I can change it from the hockey stick tach, traditional tach, they are my G-forces hooded 1.25Gs. I wish I was on that ride. Now our drive controls, the car I'm sitting in right now has an automatic, six-speed automatic, this is a car that'll sell a lot of but the more interesting car has an all new seven-speed manual. We'll need some time with that in the road. They all have a mode selector right here which as I showed you changes up to dash but more than that, it changes 12 parameters of the vehicle. From the tip in of the accelerator, transmission behavior, suspension behavior, I have a limited [unk] hands is electronically controlled on this car and all manner of other things around the vehicle. So it really does change personality. And in the engine bay of the new Vette is an interesting story, tale of two cities-- one modern, one not so much. Here's what's modern, 6.2-Liter V8 the Corvette and it does have direct injection for the first time as well as variable valve timing, an active cylinder management. This guy can shut down from 8 to 4 cylinders-- we'll talk about that in a minute. Here's what's old, this is still an overhead valve push rod engine. They decided not to go with the overhead cans because of height. The designers want to package this nose nice and low and to add a stack of cans up here would have brought things up new without here. So, the cans' buried down the valley the way it used to be and keeps the top a little lower. Doesn't seem to hurt the numbers any, 455 is the horse, 460 foot pounds of torque. Zero to 60 for this car and about 3,300 pounds comes in around 4 seconds. A little under 4 if you get the Z51 performance package. Here's the real payoff, they got some good MPG out of this guy, 1729 with an average of 21 and a big part of that is because this guy runs on 4 cylinders as I mentioned earlier when it can. You may think that's kind of a limp home or cruising mode, but because this engine is so big, 4 cylinders of this half of this guy is still a pretty roar the engine, so they say this car can run on 4 cylinders a lot even kind of in a performance way. First of all the power delivery on this guy is real linear-- thundering but linear. You don't get this big pop at the beginning, you get a nice even fat torque and power curve and that's what Chevy said they did with this guy increasingly over the 6th generation. It doesn't come on alarmingly but it comes on big. I hit that panel, now I'm in rev match mode, now watch this, I go in to a down shift without touching the throttle. That's automatic, I didn't induce it and it matches my rpms. Now I gotta say this, it's kinda slow. I can do it faster than that, but if you're not great at driving a stick especially if it's a 460 on tap, this is a nice hade. Now Chevy says this car in stock tremble turn a G on the skid pad, on the auto cross track you really get a taste of that. It's much more directionally nimble than I recall a Corvette, at least the last time we drove one a couple of years ago. I'll tell you this, the driving dynamics of this car don't feel dramatically different than the last Vette we had and there's a reason for that, Corvette's still a Corvette. The layout is iconic as a result, you're not suddenly gonna have some mid engine turbo V6 car with a Corvette [unk]-- that was gonna kinda drive the way it drives. Well, you got big modes on this car and you can just come around the corner all day long with that nice linear power and they were pushing it and this car feels stuck right down like a big ole super glue factory leaked all over it. Okay, some downsides. It still is a relatively, shall we say, gutsy feeling in the interior. There's quite a bit of cabin noise, the vibration's definitely well managed though, I gotta give them that. The shifter could be better, the clutch travels nice, but these shifters a bit a much your top three gears I believe are overdrive, that's interesting, probably an EPA strategy, 5, 6, and 7 things get a little wandery out there, it's not as clean as I've liked it on that part of the game. And the rev matching thing like I say, I could do better, there's a lack of leg room on the passenger side. I'm 6'2" and I cannot ride comfortably there for more than about 20 minutes before it's claustrophobic. I can't get enough leg room. And it's still a little bit tight in here. I mean Corvettes are not known to make a lot of space. They're not a big car, but something about this big massive center structure here seems to make it more so. All day long-- all day long. Now, the Corvette for all its performance remains, whether they want me to say this or not, a value leader. About 52 delivered for your base quo. Add $5,000 if you want a convertible. Another poultry 2,800 bucks to get to the hotter Z51 trim and a thousand bucks for that clear liftoff top, that's optional above the base carbon-fiber roof. The Corvette has not changed its essential DNA. It's a big ole brawny front engine, rear drive V8 American classic, but they have definitely evolve this car to a point that many thought it couldn't get just a few years ago. If you want more on the new Vette, Wayne Cunningham's got a great first takeover at cars.cnet.com or just pick up the link in our blog post for this episode at cnetoncars.com. Coming up, electricity isn't the only way you can fill your car up at home. We'll do a reality check on compressed natural gas cars when CNET on Cars rolls on. -If you're an idiot and have very little off road experience you can just put the terrain response into auto, set the gearbox into low range and drive it through a river bed, it'll look after you. -More love of cars at cnet.com/xcar. Welcome back to CNET on Cars. I'm Brian Cooley. Coming to you from our home, here at the Marin Clubhouse of cars the way they act. Now, almost all of us get around in a car that is driven by an engine like this. Not exactly like this Shelby motor but bottom line, an internal combustion gasoline engine. But there's another kind of combustion that uses gas, it's compressed natural gas. A lot of you think that's just the domain of some mid level bureaucrats and a few inner city cabbies, but as the big price delta between CNG and gasoline has persisted, some of you that have been riding in saying, "Is CNG actually a better way to move a car than I thought--" makes for a great Car Tech 101. First, the easy part about CNG, the part you're gonna like, all the main benefits. Number one, cheap-- here it's about 2-1/2 little bit more than that per gallon equivalent. Now this is in California the time we're paying 420 on up top, 470 for a premium, this is a big discount. Number two, real clean, almost no carbon monoxide output in the exhaust and 2/3 less NOX, the stuff that really creates the nasty smog. Number three, all the bennies-- tax credits, maybe some rebates, maybe a free HOV lane pass in your state, even a place where hybrids no longer get one. It rolls up into a little VIP club of sorts. -These incentives are very important to seeding the market, to get in these markets for clean vehicles to a tipping point where they will take off on their own. -Number four, less reliance on foreign energy. Now we're not a political show, so I'm not gonna dive into that but bottom line is America has a lot of natural gas without going anywhere to go shopping for it. Now the challenges around CNG cars are also a foursome: storage, energy density, fueling, and combustion. First, storage-- maybe it's better termed infrastructure and distribution. Your house has a costing connection to a relatively low pressure natural gas source. Your car is almost the opposite. A very occasional connection to a high pressure source and that's gonna require us some infrastructure whether it's a pumping your house or getting to a pump that is relatively scarce today. Unlike gasoline or diesel, natural gas needs to be compressed, maintained that way at filling locations like these and maintain that way in your car, a challenge you never encounter with gasoline or diesel. CNG cars carry natural gas compressed to just one percent of its natural volume. It is really crushed down up to 3,600 psi which leads to a possibly bulky and expensive tank and that leads us to tell us number two which is energy density. Now compressed natural gas is somewhat less energy per a certain volume compared to gasoline or even more so compared to diesel. However the biggest challenge around range has to do not with the density of the fuel, but how much you can carry in current car design. Partly because the cylinder design for a compressed natural gas car has to be a certain size and shape to be that strong, remember 3,600 psi, they can make gas tanks any shape to fit them anywhere and hold even more fuel. For example on this Honda Civic GX which is basically the flagship of family cars that run on natural gas from the factory, they get about 250 miles out of a full but smaller tank of compressed natural gas versus 380 on a tank full of gasoline in the more common version. Third challenge right now is refueling. You probably haven't seen a lot of natural gas pumps at your local gas station, that's a process that's underway. In the meantime, you'll had to be carrying a guide like this that tells you where they are or using the navigation system in a car like this that will tell you where they are when you need one. Typically, these things are gonna be operated by utilities. Fleet companies, your local bus fleet for example or maybe one of the new generation of purpose built consumer refilling stations. Finally the fourth challenge is all around this area of combustion. If you wanna run a compressed natural gas in your current car, you can't. It's not like gasoline, although they share three letters. You've gotta do a fairly extensive change of the fuel metering and distribution parts within your vehicle as well as install that high-tech and smaller tank we talked about earlier. All in, it could be a 5 to $10,000 conversion job-- well, a lot of folks you know have never done it. And once you do a CNG conversion, the car tends to be a little less of a performance car. This Civic GX for example is about 1.8 seconds slower to 60 than its gas engine sibling, although most folks who buy these cars don't buy them for dragster performance. And finally, all these combustion technology and tank technology leads to a more expensive car like most other alternative fuel vehicles. There's a 5, 6, $7,000 delta that you've got to work off in cost savings on the fuel as well as whatever rebates or credits are available to you. So here's my tech shopping list I'm watching to see where CNG cars are really gonna go. First of all, keep an eye on tank design. We talked about the hurdles in the current tank-- future designs may involve a couple of new things. First of all, multi compartment tanks that can be made of small strong compartments linked together, shaped to fit where the car really wants them that increases capacity as does the technology that would put sort of a honeycomb, a carbon honeycomb inside the tank that has much more surface area on which to attach the compressed gas. This is all part of a Federal government bounty to create a much better, lighter, higher capacity tank for far less money that can get around these expensive cylinders we're dealing with now. Next, I'm watching home CNG compressor design, in other words, a filling station for your home. You can get these today. They cost 3, $4,000, another 3,000 to install, most folks aren't gonna be able to swing that. The government's got another bounty program out there saying, look who can be the first to bring a $500 home compressor fueling station on the market that'll get the job done easily overnight from your low pressure home source. Then there's fuel cost, again not my expertise, but the idea that there's a big delta between natural gas and gasoline is key to the appeal of these vehicles. Finally, fuel sustainability, right now we get most of our natural gas out of sources that are prehistoric and are finite. Going forward, there's auto research being done into getting biomethane, methane that is coming from sorts of waste we create all the time in other avenues of life. Coming up, a top 5 inspired by our Corvette Stingray, muscle cars that saw the future when CNET on Cars returns. -This, in case you haven't guessed, is the brand new Jaguar F-type, one of the most exciting cars Jaguar has released for use. -More love of cars at cnet.com/xcar. Welcome back to CNET on Cars. I'm Brian Cooley. You know a muscle car is a pretty simple idea. Now, Corvettes have become pretty sophisticated but back in the day was the idea of taking an inexpensive Sedan or maybe even a Coop and dropping in a huge engine wasn't very complex but it was a rage from the mid 60s to the early 70s. As I look back during that Corvette shoot, I noticed a lot of muscle cars did things then that are still hot today and it remains a good top 5. Number 5, 64 Pontiac GTO in the tri-power configuration, about 8,200 of these, John DeLorean gave it its name, he was working at GM at that time, inspired by Ferrari's Gran Turismo Omologato, [unk] drove the same era. Blast from the A to many Ferraris' T, since this was basically a Pontiac LeMans, another optimistic American use of European car terminology. But add the optional tri-power, triple to a barrel of card package and you're getting 348 horsepower from the very first muscle car. Today you can draw a pretty straight line from the GTO idea to performance tiers today like BMW M, Audi S, the Mercedes AMG, although I noticed, they never call their cars things like Talladega. Number four, the 69 Mustang 428 Cobra Jet 2,870 made. Mustang was a pony car faring poorly in the street drag culture back in the early part of the muscle car era. So Ford made up for it by wedging their 428 big block into that car and topping it with a freer breathing heads from the even more impressive 427 engine. They also gave it a ram air scoop, bigger intake valves, all of these foreshadowing the theme today of working on freer breathing engines for faster running. The end result in this Mustang was 411 horsepower and those same physics lessons that it brought to the market underlie today's trend toward things like air intake kits. Well, I'm afraid nothing will make your Mitsubishi sound like an R Code Mustang. Number three, 68 Dodge Charger RT Hemi, 467 copies, 68 was the first year for the Charger in its Coke bottle shape with that wide inset grill, still fresh looking today. You know this guy as the bad guy's badass car in the chase scene from Bullet. Now when you add the 426 Hemi option, that's where the badass part came from, 425 horsepower, 490 foot pounds of torque. Hemi prefers the fact the engine had hemispherical combustion chamber roofs. Other engines did and do but nobody markets it like Chrysler. Number two, the 69 Camaro ZL-1, just 69 were made. This ZL-1 was created by specking a rather arcane factory option code called COPO 9560, that added a $4,000 427 V8 to a $2,200 car. It made over 500 horsepower and did zero to 60 on slippery old school tires and is still impressive today 5.3 seconds. By the way, those optional ZL-1 engines were hand built in what was basically a clean room overseen by none other than one Zora Arkus-Duntov, the head engineer of the Vette. Before we get to number one, the car that could have been, except that it really isn't a production car and not fully an American car, it's the 67 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake. They just made 2, as if a Ford 27 Ford V8 wasn't enough, Carroll Shelby bolted on a pair of superchargers for a total of 800 horse in a car that weighs about the same as your fat uncle after a big meal. Of the two made, Shelby kept one for himself, gave the other to Bill Cosby who scared himself so bad he immediately gave it back at which time it was sold to the Ford dealer in San Francisco to some other guy who also couldn't handle it and drove it off a clip into the Pacific Ocean. That's why performance cars have the ABS and traction control today. Our number one classic American muscle car that foreshadow the future, the 71 Hemi Cuda Convertible-- yes, just 11 of these Plymouths were made in rag top form with the 426 Hemi. It was the last year that engine was offered by the way in production. Incredibly rare, especially it sends most muscle cars were incredibly shoddily made. This was an interesting example of something we take for granted today, extreme performance and a rag top. It took some decades of engineering later to get that to really work without cars turning themselves into pretzels and today you find high horsepower cars that give up nothing by having their roof go down. You can trace that back to the Hemi Cuda Droptop. Now of course anytime you rank muscle cars, the email and the hatred is gonna flow, so I invite you to email me at email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>, convert to my inbox and while you're at it, head over to cnetoncars.com where you'll find past episodes and feed links to get the ones that are coming. I'm Brian Cooley and thanks for watching. We'll see you next time we Check the Tech. Okay.