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Look Back| 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray : Henny's First Drive

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2014 Corvette Stingray

The 2014 Corvette Stingray brings the vette back to same supercar league as the Lambo and Ferrari.

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

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GLENDALE, CA. February 12, 2014. A new Chevrolet Corvette Stingray…. The buzz became reality just over a year ago, when, ahead of the Detroit auto show, the new Stingray was unveiled during a special event at Detroit’s Russell Industrial Center. I was late entering the building and the huge crowd of media and employees of GM’s Bowling Green plant, home of the Corvette, made it impossible to get near the podium. Even though The Netherlands does not have a history of selling performance models, I grew up with V8 engines and American muscle cars. Raced a Camaro Z28 and loved Corvettes – not all models, but quite some!

Of course, I had also been looking forward to the arrival of the 7th generation Corvette.

The plant in Bowling Green, KY, that started building Corvettes 1981, started 2014 Stingray production on August 22 with my chance to drive the new Stingray came soon after, in November.

When I got behind the steering wheel of the lime rock green metallic Stingray Coupe, I remembered the 50th anniversary event in Nashville, as well as start in Motown of a caravan of all model years Corvettes. I was invited to join, but unfortunately had no time to drive up to the big gathering of some 5,000 cars.

During my stay in the greater Los Angeles area, I took the Stingray for a photo session up on the hill of Elysian Park and was a bit taken aback when I saw how bad the road had become. But it was no problem for the Vette. After choosing the Touring setting of the 5 available modes through the standard Drive Mode Selector, the car effortlessly worked away the bad surface and deep potholes. We did not hear a single sigh of the new, all aluminum chassis that felt absolutely solid. By the way: you can also choose Wet, Eco, Sport or Track.

Of course, it is the real driving that would have to set the Stingray apart. And it did.

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After starting the V8, you hear a soft humming sound, but as soon as you push the throttle the engine is instantly awake and willing to pull from low revs. The upgraded LT1 6.2-liter is the 5th generation small block of an all new design. Jordan Lee, chief engineer V8-engines, said at the Detroit show last year, that it has the same architecture, with cam in block and the historical 4.4 bore spacing. “Major upgrades are direct injection and the fuel system. It also has cylinder deactivation, which is a first for a Corvette.”

When the engine operates as a 3.2-liter 4 cylinder, it produces 126 hp and 221 lb-ft at 3,000 rpm. In that case the motor can deal with a speed up to 90 mph. In the test car, the optional dual-mode performance exhaust ($1,195) adds another 5 lb-ft. This improves air flow by just over 25 per cent. A nice fact is that the standard Corvette has valves in the center of the exhaust pipes, which close during V-4 operation. That way 80 per cent of the air flow is restricted for a better sound.

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Getting back to performance, the 455 hp strong engine is really flexible and offers with 420 pound-feet an impressive amount of torque. In the test car the motor is teamed to the 7-speed manual with active rev matching. It is an excellent combination, which makes the Corvette always eager and ready to perform. Power is always and readily available and the gear shifting goes effortless.

Acceleration from zero to 60 mph is now under 4 seconds, in other words: real super car performance!

The new aluminum frame is made in-house. It looks the same as before, but the structure is completely different and is 60 per cent stiffer than that of the C6 model. The costs are higher, but producing it in-house helps GM to control the costs and to get experience with premium techniques to bring it together with CFRP (carbon fiber reinforced plastic) parts. It is also the first time that the entry level Corvette gets CFRP. The material is one third the weight of fiber glass, resulting in a 99 pound lighter car. Even though CFRP is still five times the price over fiber glass, the costs are now at a point where Chevrolet can build an affordable base car.

In the new Corvette Stingray, this all adds up to an upscale level of agility and absolute stability in cornering. The small steering wheel provides a more responsive feel, the seats make you feel connected to the car and let you feel its moves, while the 50/50 weight distribution makes it turn into corners better.

The new Vette feels absolutely powerful, is inviting to drive it to the limit and is exiting too.

Apart from the absolute fun to drive qualities of the new Stingray, how is it during a daily drive? Well, I took it for a long stint to Las Vegas. It was raining cats and dogs, but the fat Michelin rubber had no trouble dealing with the water on the freeway, even when you push the throttle to overcome some boredom from driving 70 mph.

But overall, and given the circumstances, the drive was comfortable and relaxed. Driving on the Strip was fun. So many people looking at the green Vette, so many appraising looks and thumbs up. That is something you are used to when driving a Lambo or Ferrari, and now the Corvette Stingray seems to be (back) in the same league of cars that attract attention.

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Inside, you instantly notice the better quality of the materials. The seats are keeping you well in place and feel and look good with nice stitching. The driver-focused design is underlined with a handle in the center console for the passenger and separate climate controls. No parts are taken over from the C6 and the use of more upscale materials make the new Stingray also inside more premium than ever.

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The 2LT Package ($ 4,200) in my test vehicle adds among others a memory package with heating and ventilation to the bucket seats, seat adjusters with power bolster and lumbar, heated outside mirrors with the one on the driver side auto dimming, extra Corvette logo badges and a premium Bose audio with 10 speaker surround plus XM radio and an advanced anti theft system. Not in the last place it also includes the unsurpassed head-up display, now in color.

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The standard equipment is extensive and includes up front 18-inch and at the rear 19-inch aluminum wheels, plus an extended safety equipment. Its roof is light and I can easily lift it to store it in the trunk on the special brackets. The open air feeling adds another plus of the coupe. But for those who really want to go topless there is the Convertible.

You could have guessed already: in my opinion, the new Corvette Stingray is great. It is a fantastic sports car a dramatic design, but still true to its roots. With incredible performance too. I am looking forward to drive it on a race track and find out what its real super sports capabilities are! For now, I would like to conclude that the new Stingray is the best sports car value that you can get for less than $60,000 dollar!

Technical details Chevrolet Stingray Coupe - as tested

Engine	V8, 90 degrees
Capacity	376.1 cu in/6,162 cc
Power	465 hp @ 5900
Redline	6,600 rpm
Torque	465 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm
Transmission	7-speed manual
L x W x H	176.9 x 73.9 x 48.8 in
Wheelbase	106.7 in
Track fr/rr	63/61.7 in
Curb weight	3,298 lbs
Michelin Pilot Super Sport 	front 245/40ZR 18
ZP Tires 	rear 285/35  ZR 19
Acceleration 0-60 mph	3.9 sec 
Top speed	n/a
Fuel cons. EPA Est	17/29 mpg city/highway
Fuel cons. 589 mile test	23.8  mpg 
Price: (MSRP)	from $ 51,000