While the Batmobile was definitely the crowd favorite of the Barrett-Jackson 2013 Scottsdale auction, I was looking forward to seeing a different car. On Saturday January 19th, they auctioned the first production model (VIN #0001) of the seventh-generation 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
When Chevrolet says the 2014 Corvette is “all-new,” they aren’t kidding around! The Corvette has a new exterior look, a brand new engine, and a completely redone interior. Even the sacred round taillamps have been redone! With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the changes.
Body and Chassis
One of the first things you will notice about the new Corvette Stingray is its agressive looking exterior. There are scoops and vents all over the place! The headlights are HIDs and the signals and brake lamps are LEDs.
I feel that the new look is unique, yet still recognizable as a Corvette. Purists have decried the C7 for not sticking with its traditional round taillamps, and I can understand that. I don’t hate the new ones, but I do agree that people do buy Corvettes because of their heritage, and round taillamps have long been a signature design element of the ‘Vette.
One of the keys to making a good sports car is to “add lightness.” The Corvette has historically added lightness by swapping out its metal body panels with plastic or fiberglass panels. The new Corvette pushes the boundaries of weight loss even further, dropping 100 lbs compared with the previous generation. The hood and roof are made of carbon fiber. The doors, fenders, and quarter panels are all made of composite materials. Underneath it all, the car rides on a new aluminum frame.
The payoff is that the C7 Corvette has a perfect 50/50 weight distribution, which will help it stay balanced when cornering. Even the base model can pull 1.0g of lateral grip on the skidpad – an unprecedented first for the Corvette.
There was nothing wrong with the old LS3 V8, but the new 6.2L LT1 engine has a few tricks up its sleeve. Power is up to 450 HP and 450 lb-ft of torque, which makes it the most powerful base engine to ever grace the Corvette.
It’s got direct injection which puts it in line with pretty much all modern engines. It has Active Fuel Management which can shut down half of the cylinders when they are not needed (such as on long highway trips at a constant speed). It even has continuously variable valve timing. To top it all off, the whole engine is made of aluminum!
Besides the new engine, there’s a new 7-speed manual transmission with “Active Rev Matching” technology. This means that a computer anticipates your gear changes and matches the engine speed for crisp, perfect shifts.
Let me be clear that I’ve been a Corvette fan for years. I never understood why people always seemed to be arguing about the interior. Some said it was too cheap, other said “who cares, it’s a Corvette. If you want luxury, buy a luxury car.” I never paid those comments much attention until I drove one for myself.
Having spent a day in a $51,000 dollar base model C6 convertible, I can attest that I felt like the interior should have been a little nicer for the price. There was a lot of plastic.
That’s all been changed with the 2014 Corvette. There are two seat choices, both built around strong and lightweight magnesium frames. The interior has been trimmed with bits of aluminum, real carbon fiber, and hand-wrapped leather. There are now two 8″ screens in the dash for driver information. Finally, at long last, the Corvette has a world-class interior to compete with European cars!
So what do all these new changes mean for a potential Corvette owner? It means that if you buy a new Stingray, you can drop the hammer and accelerate from 0-60mph in under 4 seconds. Fuel economy isn’t something most people consider when buying a sports car, but the 2014 Stingray gets approximately 26 miles per gallon – which is about the same as most economy cars. That’s pretty damn impressive for a big American V8!
If that’s not enough, you can order the optional Z51 Performance Package which includes a limited slip differential, dry-sump oiling system, brake, differential, and transmission coolers, and an aerodynamic package that adds to the car’s high speed stability.
Overall, I think the latest Corvette shows some big improvement where it really counts. It’s lighter, faster, more powerful, more efficient, and more comfortable inside. The only question is: how are they going to top this one?