Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Now in its seventh generation, the rear-wheel-drive 2014 Chevrolet Corvette continues to push the envelope for what is possible from an affordable, efficient, made-in-America sports car.

Its redesign is total, and it begins outside, where sharp, purposeful lines give the new car a slippery .29 drag coefficient. Body materials include a carbon fiber hood and roof panel, while the doors, fenders, quarter panels, and rear hatch all benefit from lighter density sheet molding over the previous car. On convertibles, the power convertible top is operable at speeds up to 30 mph. The C7 features an aluminum space frame that is 99 pounds lighter than its predecessor yet 57% stiffer, while a carbon nano-composite floor pan replaces the heavier balsa sandwich construction of the C6.

Inside, the C7 boasts a cockpit that for the first time puts it on par with some of Europe's best. The driving position is near-perfect, and the seats are vastly improved, with increased comfort and better support for hard driving. An 8-inch touchscreen dominates the center console, while soft-touch materials are more abundant. Finally, the new car offers 15 cubic-feet of cargo room under the rear hatch -- enough to hold luggage, golf clubs, or the bag full of money you saved by not buying a Porsche 911.

The heart of the Corvette, of course, is its powerplant. The 6.2L direct-injection V8 has been completely rethought and now delivers 455 horsepower and 460 foot-pounds of torque. It is coupled to a standard 7-speed manual transmission that features Active Rev Matching, which blips the throttle during up- and down-shifts, eliminating the need for heel-and-toeing by the driver during braking. The combination is good enough to propel the Corvette from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.0 seconds, while also returning 17 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. A 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters is optional, as is a performance exhaust, which increases output to 460 horses.

Coupes and convertibles both come in standard models and high-performance Z51 guise, which allows for a 0?60 mph time of 3.8 seconds. The Z51 Performance Package adds larger wheels (19-inch front, 20-inch rear vs. 18/19- inch) with Michelin Pilot Super Sport ZP summer-only tires, a dry sump oil system, electronic limited slip differential, larger front brakes (13.6-inch vs. 12.6-inch) with slotted rotors, performance gear ratios, special suspension components, differential and transmission cooling and an aerodynamic package to reduce lift and improve high-speed stability. Chevy's trick Magnetic Selective Ride Control is optional on the Z51.

The 1LT, or base, trim offers a 9-speaker Bose audio system, rear vision camera, keyless access with push-button start, power tilt/telescopic steering column, 8-way power leather seats, two 8-inch HD color displays, and a Driver Mode Selector, which allows drivers to customize the driving experience by selecting one of five distinct modes -- Weather, Eco, Tour, Sport and Track. Each mode adjusts steering, throttle, traction and more.

2LT Corvettes get heated and ventilated seats with Corvette emblems, an upgraded Bose sound system, auto-dimming mirrors, Chevy's color Head-Up Display and SiriusXM satellite radio with a one-year subscription. Finally 3LT cars offer all of the above plus a custom leather-wrapped interior with Nappa leather seating, navigation and color-matched instrumentation to the interior.

Standard safety features in all Corvette Stingrays include stability and traction controls, a rearview camera, driver and passenger front and side airbags, and a 6-month subscription to OnStar.

Editors' First Take

More than its 3-second 0-to-60-mph time, its 1.0 G of cornering grip or the fact that, you know, its engine sits behind the cockpit, the craziest thing about Chevrolet's new C8 Corvette Stingray is that everything I just mentioned comes on a wildly styled sports car that costs $59,995 -- including the delivery fee. No other car offers so much performance for so little cash.

Real quick, though, I need to be honest: I kind of figured the $59,995 Corvette would be the car world's white whale. You know, the C8 that grabs headlines for its low MSRP even though the reviews all feature more generously specced 3LT Z51 models, like the nearly $87,000 example Andrew Krok just tested, the one Tim Stevens took to the track or the one Chris Paukert first drove last year. I assumed it'd be like the headline-grabbing-but-nowhere-to-be-found $35,000 Tesla Model 3. So, good on Chevy for calling my bluff and sending me the no-options, $59,995 Corvette seen here. Because now I can say it again, and this time with feeling: No other car offers so much performance for so little cash.

The base Corvette 1LT has the same 6.2-liter naturally aspirated V8 as every other Stingray, with 490 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. Working through an eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission, the rear-wheel-drive Corvette will accelerate to 60 mph in 3 seconds flat, and do so without any overdramatic or skittish tendencies. Even on its stock all-season tires, the wide, 305/30-section rear rubbers simply claw into the pavement and shoot the Stingray forward.

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