Another great review of the StingRay, this time from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the largest newspaper in the Northwest.
2014 Corvette Stingray ? high speed flash without the ultra-high price. - Cars & Truckspost-intelligencer said:It’s the lightning bolt from hell. It looks like a lightning bolt, and it goes like lightning. With its swoopy looks and hard edges, it’s Captain Marvel and Batman, rolled into one. This Velocity Yellow 2014 Corvette has all the DNA of 60 years of Corvette history – the overhead valves, pushrod V8 engine, snarling exhaust – and it attracts the eyes of small boys and large men like no other car around.
I drove the Z51 version of this car for a week and here are some of the reactions: in a Costco parking lot, guy walks past, stops short, points at the car and says, “Oh. My. God. That’s the new Corvette!,” then keeps walking, backward, staring at the car.
Sunday afternoon, on a residential street in Palo Alto: half a dozen boys, ambling along, hacking around, maybe 12 to 14 years old. The car goes slowly past them. They stop what they’re doing, mesmerized, their heads following the Corvette as I snick the 7-speed manual gearbox into second gear and blip the throttle. For effect.
I mention all this just to say that this seventh iteration of the Corvette draws attention like none of the previous six. (Full disclosure: I own a 2000 Corvette – that’s the C5 generation – and while it, like most Corvettes, will cause a certain amount of head-turning, it’s nothing like the C7. Corvettes are identified by generation, from C1, bowing in 1953, to C7, the 2014. A curious note: I tested a C6 several years ago and it, too, was yellow. And there’s a yellow Corvette on the cover of Car and Driver’s March issue. Does General Motors think yellow Corvettes are more press friendly?)
The biggest news about the C7, aside from the fact that it is the first new Corvette in nine years (2005 marked the debut of the C6), is that the car is now on an aesthetic and performance par with its far pricier rivals. This, of course, is arguable, but the fact remains that we now have a superbly tossable sports car that will do 195 miles an hour, will do zero to 60 in about four seconds, and costs tens of thousands of dollars less than its competitors. Possibly most important, it will seat its driver and passenger in the comfort of a drastically upgraded interior.
I can tell you, from firsthand experience, that Corvette owners have not been sitting in the plushest of surroundings all these years. We compensate by thinking that these are brute-force machines, not some sissy Euro-trash sporty car, and that will make things better. But that, too, is just some psycho-babble excuse-making. The interiors of older Corvettes do not hold a candle to the interiors of, say, Porsche or Jaguar or BMW or Ferrari.
Now they do. The seats are a lot better, the plasticky feel is gone, the instruments are easier to look at, the door panels don’t fall apart or start to crinkle and, so far, the seats don’t go into rocking-chair mode. (Aftermarket shops even make fix-it kits for the seat-rail problems.) The new car also gets keyless entry, a nine-speaker Bose audio system and a heads-up display.
On the outside, Chevrolet has taken what was a pretty conservative, European-inspired shape and made it more angular, even flashy, but it still says Corvette when you look at it. The rear of the hatchback coupe seems flatter and has much less glass, and so, perforce, there’s more restricted visibility from inside. If there’s any controversy, it’s over the taillights – going against the Corvette grain of round or elliptical lenses, the new ones are rectangular, much like those on the Camaro. To me, they seemed all of a piece in the newly designed rear end.
But, hey, we don’t want this car for taillights or scoops or any of those baubles, nice as they are. What we want this car is for what it does.
This car is not a slowpoke. Shove that shift lever into first and take off. This is insane. It will throw you straight into that seat back and move off the line and be up to 100 before you can scream, “aarrrgghhhh.” (Delete some of those letters and it might be even quicker. –Ed.) The manual gearbox shifts easily, but watch out for seventh gear. It’s waaaayyyy over on the right and finding it takes some getting used to.
When you’ve gotten up into go-to-jail-immediately territory, you can hit the “Rev Match” paddle on the steering wheel and then shift down through the gears, knowing that the rev matching mechanism will have that higher RPM for the lower gear all ready for you, like an attentive concierge at a five-star hotel holding open the door as you step out of the car.
The C7 will outperform most average drivers. Few of us are of that professional racer caliber and the Corvette is made for people who want to take it to that limit, even if – caution note, here – they won’t know what to do when a cow steps onto the road as they come blasting out of that corner at 120. Nonetheless, Chevrolet has given you the Ricky Racer options, right down to the electronically adjustable suspension. You can choose Touring, Sport and Track. If you ratchet it up to Track, in a few seconds the ride will feel as if the shock absorbers went on vacation and left you with just a bumpy road and hard tires. Jouncy is not the word. More like teeth-rattling and then teeth-breaking.
General Motors is treating the C7 like a favorite child – it bestowed the name Stingray on the car, a name that hasn’t been used on a Corvette since the groundbreaking 1963 split window coupe, which, to be precise, was called the Sting Ray.
Not as pricey as the competition
Sting Ray or Stingray, the new Corvette is also a relative bargain, if you can call any car costing more than $50,000 a bargain. With the Corvette, the word applies. It’s not competing against Honda Accords. Its target competitor is Porsche, whose base 911 hovers near $85,000. Others? BMW 6-series is about $81,000. Mercedes-Benz SL550 is about $100,000.
Base price of the 2014 Corvette: $51,995.
Of course, all those cars will be optioned to the hilt, adding another $10,000 to $20,000 to the price, and the same holds true for the Corvette.
Our car was a Z51, the performance version of the base Corvette (it adds dry sump oil system, performance suspension and gear ratios, among other things) and had a base price of $53,800. Then Chevy added a whopping $17,165 worth of options – the 3LT package alone, with heated and ventilated leather seats, and a lot other gizmos, was $8,005 – bringing the total price of the car to $71,960, including $995 for trucking it to the dealer. (You’d think GM could pay for getting the product to the store.)
Admittedly, $72,000 is a lot for a toy. Then again, as those boys in the street the other day will tell you, it’s not just any toy.