I was there (in Detroit) in January 2013 when General Motors unveiled “the new Vette.” Nineteen months later, I’ve driven it.
To drive the 2014 Corvette Stingray Coupe is damned exciting; that’s an understatement, particularly for the fact the 455-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8 engine is mated to a 7-speed manual transmission with Active Rev Matching technology.
All Stingrays with 7-speed manuals come with the rev match, which, engaged by paddles on either side of the steering wheel, blips the throttle to match engine rpm to the wheel speed for a seamless downshift. I remember as a high schooler double-clutching the 3-speed manual in my ’48 Ford V-8 to avoid grinding of the gears; oh, how those duals bellered. Same with the Vette; of course, my recollection was the dark ages; the Stingray is today’s high-tech scene.
As the clutch is pushed and the shift lever is moved to a lower gear, the driver hears the instantaneous bump of the rpm, then an amazingly smooth shift – no shake, no shudder.
The 2014 Corvette C-7 is the seventh generation, showing up 60 years after the original 1953 C-1.
I was one of 1,200 persons who filed in out of the rain at the old Russell Industrial Center in Detroit on the night of Jan. 13, 2013, for the unveiling of the new Corvette, to be known as the Stingray. It was the eve of the North American International Auto Show. Such a crowd, shoulder to shoulder much of the evening, yet I bumped almost square into and had a nice, short visit with Bob Lutz, the former GM car boss.
Since then, it’s been almost enough to simply look at the sharp lines in the Stingray. The chance to drive one finally came last week, in a two-passenger coupe finished in velocity yellow tintcoat and with a roof panel that can be lifted off with the release of three latch handles. And, another fine touch, the addition of custom-painted yellow brake calipers in the wheels, a $595 option. The Stingray’s sticker was $62,465.
A drive-mode dial selector in the center console lends the Stingray driver access to five modes, including weather, eco, tour, sport and track, with changes in each mode noticeable for shift patterns, throttle control, suspension stiffness, rigidity of chassis, steering tightness, traction control and exhaust sound.
I did most of my driving in Touring and Sport modes. Touring is the default or normal set, Sport firms up the suspension and tightens the steering and display gauges for oil pressure and oil temperature. The Track mode is for the race track. Eco is for more mild response and fuel-efficiency, while Weather is geared for better takeoff in snow and rain.
While in the Eco mode, the Active Fuel Management system allows the small-block V-8 to effectively turn into a more fuel-efficient V-4 in low-load driving situations, such as cruising along a flat highway. With the shutdown of 4 cylinders, the engine becomes a 3.1-liter 4-cylinder; an incline or the least bit of added pressure to the accelerator instantly resumes the 8-cylinder power. At highway speeds, the switch to 4-cylinder power isn’t noticeable.
Chevy Corvette engineers claim that full use of the Eco mode will often deliver fuel mileage as high as 30. Would a person really want to buy this wonderful machine, which some consider a world class sports car, and leave it fully in the Eco drive? Probably not. My overall average was 19.4 mpg, which included acceleration tests and use of the rev match system.
Black-painted aluminum wheels are 19-inch in front and 20 at the rear, with Michelin tire sizes of 245/35ZR19 in front and P285/30ZR20 in the rear. Do the math on those – they’re low, low-profile performance tires.
The only other 7-speed manual in the sports car world is the Porsche, with its 911 Carrera. The Vette’s 460 lb.-ft. of torque is about the same as the ratings for the Jaguar F-Type S and the Nissan GT-R, though the Jag and Nissan top it in horsepower, with 495 and 545, respectively.
The Stingray setup will run 0 to 60 in under 4 seconds; add its four-outlet, tuned exhaust at the center of the rear bumper, and, no, it’s not a quiet interior.
The 2014 Corvette is an inch longer in wheelbase and overall length than the ’13 version.
Bose touchscreen audio with Bluetooth, USB and input jack, along with GT leather bucket seats, dual-zone air conditioning, Z51 performance package, driver information center and the removable roof panel were standard items. Almost $8,000 in options on the Stingray review model included magnetic ride control, multimode exhaust, spoiler, the yellow tintcoat, the black wheels and sueded microfiber-wrapped seat inserts, steering wheel and shifter.
Also available in the new Stingray is a paddle-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission.
Here are the ’14 Corvette Stingray Coupe specifications:
- Wheelbase 106.7 inches
- Length 176.9 inches
- Width 73.9 inches
- Height 48.8 inches
- Curb Weight 3,342 pounds
- Track 63 inches front, 61.7 rear
- Ground Clearance N.A.
- Turn Circle 37.7 feet
- Drivetrain Rear-wheel-drive
- Engine 6.2-liter V-8
- Horsepower/Torque 455/460
- Transmission 7-speed manual
- Fuel mileage estimate 17/29
- Fuel mileage average 19.4
- Fuel Tank 18.5 gallons
- Wheels 19-inch front, 20-inch rear
- Cargo Volume 15 cubic feet
- Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles basic, 5/100,000 powertrain
- Competitors Porsche 911, Jaguar F-Type, Nissan GT-R, Dodge Viper
- Assembly Plant Bowling Green, Ky.
- Parts Content U.S./Canadian 75%
Base Price of Lowest Model $53,900; Base Price of Review Model $53,900; Destination Charge $995; Sticker Price $62,465.