The 1963 Corvette Stingray is a legend of power and engineering, a pure American vision of the sports car; nothing was compromised on and expectations were not just met but exceeded on every level. In other words, the perfect performance vehicle.
Attempting to build on a legend is always a gamble, but with the 2014 C7, Chevrolet has done an outstanding job of redefining modern performance while straddling the line between design and technology. As we noted in our preview back in January, the C7 continues the rough design language set forth by the previous C5 and C6 generations, modifying the angles and body work to give the vehicle a much bolder presence.
Climbing into the hills of the badlands of northern California—south of Monterey but still hours north of L.A.—the Stingray easily took the patchwork of hidden twists and turns. Unlike many luxury and sports test-drives on perfectly groomed roads, we were given a good 50 miles of roughhousing: uneven stretches of raw concrete, loose gravel and threats of suicidal wildlife.
We shifted into fourth and hit the throttle, nudging our venom green performance package Z51 into the high 4000 rpms as we navigated a slalom through a pine forest. The sport-turned Z51 performance package ($2800) effortlessly guided us around corners at 80 mph, the G-force tracker bouncing on the dash (you can hit a full G if you’re really pushing on a track). Coming out onto a straightaway, we took out the rest of the gear range, touching five and six in quick succession before gliding the stick into seven. Still not nearly at full speed on this public road, but the soar of the LT1 engine crying out over the sound of the Michelin tires clinging to the road was an instant adrenaline rush.
Speaking of the engine, the all-new 6.2 L small block V8 offers a suite of advanced technology, bringing together direct injection, variable valve timing and active fuel management. The most powerful standard model Corvette has ever produced, the Stingray has about 450 horsepower under the hood, producing approximately 450 pound-feet of torque. Adding to its records in the ’Vette family, the C7 hits zero to 60 in less than four seconds.
A number we can absolutely confirm (3.9 seconds, to be specific) following our go on the autocross course GM set up across an airfield. Boosting out of first gear and around the first corner, the 3,444-pound Z51 swung around the axis with ease even while applying the throttle and kicking it up into third. The Michelin Super Sport tires and Brembo brakes combo offered complete control over responsive braking and cornering at high speeds. The rear-weight bias (49.4 front/50.6 rear) of the C7 gave us an advantage as well, as did the Z51’s extra inch of tire girth. The limited-slip differential of the Stingray kept us on course around some of the more adventurous corners, especially after a fellow journalist created a new obstacle by knocking a few pylons down the middle of a bottleneck. We had to take a cool-off lap due to the tire heat at this point, a potential indication of how Chevy will adapt this beast for American Lemans when the seventh gen debuts next year (check the gallery for a sneak peek of it in camo hot lapping around Laguna Seca).
The inside of the C7 is a huge improvement over the outgoing C6; the uncomfortable buckets have been replaced by eight-way adjustable race seats that make you feel like an F1 driver. The dash, anchored by an eight-inch responsive touch screen and a driver-tilted instrument panel, is clean and uncluttered. We’ve always loved GM’s premium heads-up display, and we’re equally pumped by the leather trim package (an extra $8K) that offers a dose of luxury.
Ultimately, the C7 Stingray has been one of the most impressive drives we’ve been on this year, scoring alongside the V8 Jaguar F-Type and standing up well to the 911 Carrera 4S. From performance to style and capabilities to design, the 2014 C7 is in a league of its own here in America. With the seventh generation rollout underway and the planned convertible and potential Z07 variants under active development, Corvette has managed to successfully resurrect the Stingray badge on a product worthy of its namesake…and then some.
Available this fall starting at $51,995. For more information visit www.corvette.com