Cooley On Cars
2014 Corvette Stingray: America's classic car rebornFew cars are as iconic as the Corvette. We take out Chevy's latest seventh-generation supercar out for a test-drive to see if it lives up to its predecessors.
Few cars are storied as the Vette. In fact, 60 years ago we got the first one. Fifty 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 of this new 7th generation Vette. First up, upper proportions are about the same and by the way, they pointed out they're remarkably closed 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, easy this 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 but underneath here, all aluminum frame and subframes, which is stuck now on every single one of the new Vette, and of course a lot of these fenders and other panels are made of sheet molding compound, a high tech plastic. So, I'm not sure you can get a fridge magnet to stick to this car anywhere. Now, it gets real controversial back here. These tails lights, this whole cluster here is either the new look of Corvette or if you're more of a doubter in the various chatrooms and forums, a travesty that is too much Camaro or Malibu. Very unique here. These are the trumpets of hell. These things go to a dual-exhaust system out of four tips that has this mechanically actuated. It opens up a valve back here for a whole lot more below and more flow and you say, it can actually add 5 horse and 5-foot pounds if you have the performance exhaust system. Little freeflow does [unk]. Okay, now, the roofs are big story on this new Vette. All of the supposed hard top, actually have a lift off roof. You can't get a true hard top Vette, at least not yet in the 7th Generation. You can get these in body color, clear carbon or for thousand dollars options, a clear smoked top. That could be kinda cool. Now, let's put it away. You put this into these front clips, drop it in here, snaps 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 cover 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 heating is really showing except the very few places and the texture there is nice as well. They may have already noticed the other way they've upholstered this car, they've upholstered it with LCDs. This one carries 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 you still got a mechanical speed though, and a 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 tracked 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's tic tac, traditional tac, they're my G-forces who did 1.25 Gs. Wish I was on that ride. Now, our drive controls. Look, I'm sitting in right now, has an automatic, 6-speed automatic. This is a car [unk] but the more interesting car has an all-new 7-speed manual, wanna get some time with that in the road. They all have a mode selector right here, which as I showed you changes up the dash but more than that, it changes 12 parameters of the vehicle from the tip end of the accelerator, transmission behavior, suspension behavior. How the limited slip behaves, is electronically controlled on this car and all manner of other things around the vehicle. So, it really has changed personality. Now, in the engine they have in the new Vette is interesting story. Tale of two cities; one modern, one not so modern. Here's what's modern. Six point two 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 shutdown from 8 to 4 cylinders and we'll talk about that in a minute. Here's what's old. This is still an overhead valve pushrod engine. They decided not to go with overhead cans because of height. The designers wanted to package this nose nice and low, and to add a stack of cans up here would have brought things up about here. So, the cans buried down the valley, the way it used to be, and keep the top a little lower. That will seem to hurt the numbers in, 455 the horse, 460-foot pounds of [unk]. [unk] 60 for this car and about 3300 pounds comes in around four seconds. A little under four 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 four cylinders as I mentioned earlier, when it can. You may think that's kind of a limp home or a cruising mode but because this engine is so big, four cylinders of this, half of this guy. It's still a pretty rotary engine. So, they say this car can run on four cylinders a lot even kind of in a performance way. First of all, the power deliver on this guy is real linear, thundering but linear. You don't get this big pop at the beginning, you've got 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 pedal now, I'm in rev match mode. Now watch this. I go into a downshift without touching the throttle. That's automatic. I didn't boost 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 the 460 on tap, this is a nice [unk]. 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 that we had and there's a reason for that. Corvette is still a Corvette. The layout is iconic. As a result, you're not suddenly gonna have some mid-engine turbo V6 car with a [unk]. But was gonna kinda drive the way this drives. We got big booths on this car and you can just come around the corner all day long with that nice linear power and we're pushing it. And this car feels stuck right down like a big old 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 a cabin noise, the vibration is definitely well-managed though, I gotta give them that. The shifter could be better. The clutch travels nice but the shifter is a bit much. Your top three gears, I believe, are overdrive. That's interesting, probably an EPA strategy. Five, six and seven things get a little laundry out there. It's not as clean as I like it on that part of the gate and the rev matching thing like I said, I can do better. There's a lack of leg room on the passenger's side. I'm 6'2" and I cannot right 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 there. I mean, Corvettes are not known for being 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 lift off top that's optional above the base carbon fiber roof. The Corvette has not changed its essential DNA. It's a big old brawny front engine, rear drive V8 American classic. But they've definitely evolved this car to a point that many thought it couldn't get just a few years ago.