One of my oldest memories actually comes from a time when I was just two years old. I remember being at my house, and my mom’s brother had just arrived from the States for a visit.
While he was talking to my mother, I stumbled into the guest room, saw his suitcase open, and found a model of a silver, 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray in it. I immediately picked it up and took it to the living room. I remember my uncle telling my mom that the toy was actually for my elder brother, but since I got my hands on it, I can keep it. For me, it was instant love, and I have been a fan of Corvette’s ever since.
However, being a fan and being honest are two different things. Over the last two decades, I have been in quite a few Corvette’s, but while none were bad, most weren’t great either. I would normally have issue with either the quality of the fit and finish, or find their drivetrain to be in need of some refinement. So, while I’d enjoy my time in Corvette’s – I would also wish they were sorted out better.
With the arrival of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette C7, the Stingray name has also been reintroduced. There has been much talk about it being leaps and bounds ahead of the car it replaced, in almost every area. The only way to find out if this is true was to spend some time with one.
Getting that accomplished was harder than I thought, because the new Corvette is the most in demand car in General Motors Canadian fleet, and to be granted some seat time came down to when it becomes available.
So, when I finally got the invite to take the Corvette C7 home, I jumped on it – it really didn’t matter to me what else I had booked for that week, because driving the Stingray has been in the making since I was a toddler.
So, when the day finally arrived for me to go pick up the Corvette, I made the trek from my city of London, On. to Oshawa to pick it up. Due to traffic, this trek took five hours, and when I finally got there, I was informed that the last two guys who had the car have been quite rough with it, hence the brakes had developed a judder when used firmly. I didn’t care, I had the key to the 2014 Corvette Stingray, and no minor detail was going to ruin that.
When I walked up to the car, I had my serious, auto tester face on, as soon as I started the car, the angry growl from its 6.2-litre, V8 engine made me feel like a kid again. Being objective about this car is hence not going to be easy, but I’ll give it a try.
Once I got my seat positioned right, I started looking around the interior, which is an aesthetic marvel. The C7 has certainly come a long way in this area over the C6. Another plus, the usual cheap plastics associated with American sports cars seemed absent here, so the new Corvette is on par in this department with just about anything from Europe, in this class at least (wouldn’t be fair to compare it to a Pagani or a Bugatti).
It’s not just the quality that has gone up, so has the technology. The infotainment system is spectacular, and the heads-up display is much clearer than before, and offers lots more info.
For your comfort, the seats are not only very supportive, but my tester even had heated and cooled seats, which sure helped during the heat in the first week of August, when I had the car.
All this quality, comfort and convenience stuff is fine, but I bet you are all waiting for me to tell you what’s it like to drive?
In short, it drives as well as it looks, and I think the 2014 Corvette Stingray is one of the best looking cars on sale today. For a sportscar that is designed to handle speeds in the region of 300 km/h, it rides very well at slow speeds, and even on a bumpy terrain, it doesn’t feel like it’ll shake your fillings loose. My tester had the optional adjustable dampers, which would – at the turn of a switch – give you a track hard ride, or a cushy one; good to have the choice for when you’re on the road.
The weight of the controls, such as clutch, gearbox, and steering is also very good, so even in a traffic jam, the car was not a pain to use. In ‘Sport’ or ‘Track’ mode, the controls firm up, to give you a more reassuring feel. That is good, because this car gathers speed at a truly alarming rate. The sprint from 0 to 100 km/h is done in 3.8 seconds, and after you’ve crossed that point, the acceleration feels even more fierce – this car can become a problem for keeping your license clean.
Not only does the speed please you, but its (optional) active exhaust just eggs you on, prompting you to release all of its 460 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque. Trust me, if you like driving, this new Corvette will satisfy your needs.
Usually, cars like these are very unforgiving in the corners, but not the Corvette C7, it offers tons of grip, and while it has traction and stability control systems, they work so seamlessly, you’ll just think you’ve become a better driver.
For when you want to become a frugal driver, switch it to ‘Eco’ mode – and as in the case with my manual tester – put it in seventh gear (that is not a misprint, this car has seven forward gears) and just cruise, which on the highway would shut off half the engine. This helped me achieve just 7.1-litres/100km on the highway – that’s incredible. Even with my spirited driving every now and then, the Corvette averaged just 11.3-liters/100km on a city and highway combined run.
So, in pretty much every area, the new Corvette scores positive points. Any complaints? If I’m being picky, I’d point out that the gates on the seven-speed gearbox (which has an electronic rev matching feature) are very close. This would often result me going from fourth to seventh gear, instead of fifth. But considering that is my only complaint, this car is about as perfect as cars come.
Now, the really crazy stuff, the price. A base 2014 Corvette Stingray C7 coupe is yours from just $56,645. My tester had the Z51 performance package, plus some extra goodies, and it was still just $70,510. While that is not cheap for many, for a sportscar of these talents, it is a true bargain.
First thing I’d buy after a decent lottery win? You bet.