2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Review By Andrew Frankl
by Andrew Frankl
European Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
The 2014 Stingray is very special indeed…
It isn’t very often that I am really sad to see a car leave our parking lot but it was most definitely the case when after a week of unadulterated joy the 2014 Car of the Year disappeared into the distance. I made sure it was left in Sport mode to listen, for the last time, to the amazing sounds from the quadruple exhausts.
Now I don’t want to be a hypocrite, as Grand Prix Editor of FORZA, the magazine about Ferraris I have driven a large number of very fine cars from Maranello and also from Lamborghini just down the road in what you might call the automotive World’s Silicone Valley.
To be fair Ferrari are also one of the all-time great brands, way beyond cars. And they don’t make electric cars, probably never will, unlike GM. And yet, I know that the Corvette would have turned a great many heads outside Ristorante Montana, watering hole for drivers, engineers and tourists alike. From a pure driving pleasure point of view the Corvette is up with the F12 and is better looking. I have never ever had so many friends and neighbors surrounding and admiring the car. In bright yellow it was somewhat conspicuous, a policeman’s dream catch. If fact we blasted past one who was in the middle of writing out a ticket to a rental Impala driver and was visibly upset. We were of course broken hearted for him. Not.
A car like this also has the effect of attracting relatives young and old to our humble abode. I texted grandson Freddy and within 2 seconds came the reply: when can we take this baby for a spin? What else were we supposed to do on a warm, sunny January day with 455 horses and 460 pound torque? Search for the nearest tunnel. It was sheer bliss. Just as it was on the road to the coast on that wonderful road from Petaluma. My mate Jon was a bit reticent at first, living in Berkeley drivers spend most of their time trying to avoid cyclists, something I fully understand. Luckily we were miles away. The new V8 engine now features direct fuel injection and cylinder deactivation, hence that astonishing fuel consumption figure of 29 mpg on the highway. In addition to running on 4 cylinders the additional 7th gear-which pulls perfectly well by the way-acts as a tall cruising gear. Great. To be honest as we blasted down the deserted road, cylinder deactivation was furthest from our mind. It was magic. And with the easily detachable targa top it was automotive heaven.
The basic price is 53 thousand dollars, the car we had-with lots of extras-came to 71 thousand, petty cash compared to Italian exotica. Plus-as it is a GM car there are parts available in every town, large or small.
Let me be a male chauvinist pig for a second. (Second being the operative word before I get lynched in Marin, PC capital of the World.) In terms of attracting members of the opposite sex this Corvette blows the top off the Richter scale. I cannot think of another automobile which is known to all and sundry and has this effect. It is as American as apple pie. Everybody knows about it, many people owned one or knew someone who did. Corvette is folklore, just like the Ford Mustang whereas for millions Ferraris and Lambos are cars on the TV screen or in the pages of celeb magazines. In a word-unattainable.
By now you must be wondering whether I’ve found anything wrong with the Stingray? Well, there is that appalling handbrake which is one of those silly little levers…useless on hills of San Francisco. I know other cars have it as well, just as dumb.
One interesting problem which you will only encounter if you go into a parking garage. Because of the thickness of the door and the angle of the window you will not reach the parking ticket and you will not be able to put your credit card in to pay simply. Maybe you can. I am 6ft tall with relatively long arms and failed miserably. Which means stopping the engine and opening the door-very carefully because at airports you are already next to a concrete wall. Sounds like a minor detail, try doing it in a hurry with 10 cars behind you.
Still, unless you drive the Corvette to airports-a silly thing to do at the best of times- you are unlikely to counter this problem. In the meantime have fun. The Stingray is very special indeed.