The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, which is one of the finest sports cars ever, actually is two cars. You can have it as a mean machine at home on a racetrack, or as a docile touring car with plenty in reserve to play tag with a Porsche.
|STATS||Starting Retail Price||As Tested Price||HP / Lb-Ft|
|2014 Chevrolet Corvette||$51,995||$67,380||455 /|
|EPA MPG||As Tested MPG||Curb Weight LBS|
|17 / 29||N/A||3,298|
But never call it an icon. It is an American original, always has been. To tag the new Stingray as iconic is to denigrate it. Applied to automobiles—or almost anything else—iconic is the most inaccurate and clichéd word in the English language. Look it up.
An icon is a statue, most often a representation of a saint in an orthodox Christian church. That means it is a copy of something.
It is not the something.
So to assert that the new Corvette Stingray is iconic is to say that it is a copy cat. No way. It is as it has been since its beginning—a purebred Yankee sports car that now can compete with anything on the planet.
Insiders call it the C7, which signifies that it is the seventh generation of a car that dates back 60 years. The original was a pussy cat with a two-speed automatic transmission. The Sting Ray came along in 1963 as a purebred sports car and the name survived another decade.
Now we have the 2014 model, which Chevrolet says is the first Corvette since then that deserves the name, now spelled as one word, Stingray.
There are two versions: with a unique seven-speed (that’s right, seven) manual gearbox, it is a full Monte sports car with handling suited to a racetrack with barely any modification. The other comes with a six-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted manually. It is a wonderful, casual touring car that, if asked, can still spew enough venom at a stoplight to immobilize whatever the guy next door is driving.
Start with the power. It’s good, old-fashioned Detroit iron (though made of aluminum): a honking V8 that delivers a whopping 460 horsepower and 465 pounds-feet of torque, or twisting force. Though it still uses pushrods instead of modern overhead camshafts, it also employs computer controlled direct fuel injection for maximum explosive energy.
But it also features active cylinder management, which disables four of the eight cylinders in leisurely highway cruising to maximize fuel economy, the Everycar goal in these times. With the six-speed automatic transmission, it works all the time; on the seven-speed manual, it only operates in the driver-selectable Eco mode.
But it means that the Stingray stick delivers 17/29/21 mpg on the EPA’s city/highway/combined cycle, on the required premium fuel. Some of that is because of the aluminum frame, and fiberglass and carbon fiber composite body panels that contribute to a curb weight of 3,298 pounds.
Chevrolet estimates the zero-to-60 miles an hour blastoff at 3.8 seconds, with a theoretical top speed that is off the charts because of the low ratio of the gearbox’s seventh speed.
The manual also features active rev matching. An onboard computer blips the throttle to match the engine revolutions to the road speed. It’s not important on upshifts, when the driver has his foot in the throttle anyway. But matching the revs on downshifts means the driver doesn’t have to work the brake and loud pedals at the same time.
Because of the engine’s terrific power, the shift linkage is brawny, and the seventh speed dictates a double H pattern, so it takes a bit of practice to avoid missing a shift, say from seventh to fourth instead of sixth. The clutch is similarly stiff.
But that’s the engaging part for any serious driver. One of the Corvette’s competitors, the 2014 Jaguar F-Type, does not offer a manual gearbox, which gives the Stingray a competitive advantage.
The other advantage is price. The tested Stingray coupe has a starting price of $51,995, compared to the F-Type’s $81,895. And that’s the V6 Jag. The V8 starts at $92,995.
Of course, the equipment that most customers will choose boosts the Stingray’s price considerably. The test car, with options, had a sticker of $67,380, which looks like a bargain against the Jaguar and any number of Porsches.
The major downside of the new Corvette Stingray is its cramped cockpit. Beautifully designed and executed, it’s fine for most average sized humans, but any bulky person a couple of inches more than 6 feet tall will feel squeezed, at eye level with the windshield’s top frame.
Take a look at this fun and informative TFLcar First Drive video of the 2014 Stingray: