2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Review

Yeah? Who’s laughing now you high falutin Europeans? Eat dirt dudes!

By Shahzad Sheikh

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Middle East road test

The new 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray has one purpose, and one purpose alone in this new life – to stick it to those pesky Europeans who firmly believe only they can make high-end ultra fast sportscars, and that Americans can only hammer together loud-mouthed muscle cars.

Notice has been served, Chevrolet has even broken out the fabled ‘Stingray’ badged for this one, certifying the C7 – the seventh generation Corvette – to be something rather special. This new gatecrasher to the super sportscar party means business and it’s a come lookin for someone, someone who goes by the code ‘911’ and bears the name ‘Porsche’.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Middle East road test

The Stingray has an identical length to the current 911, and is fractionally wider. A Carrera S makes 400bhp, this makes 455bhp; the Porsche will get to 100kph in 4.3seconds with the auto, the Vette will do it in 3.9, the German will reach 301kph, the yank will go 310kph. The Porsche 911 was the only car ever to offer a 7-speed manual – until Chevy introduced one with the C7, and made it even cleverer with intelligent rev-matching. Sadly we won’t get to see much of either of those here in our region.

The Porsche 911 Carrera S starts at AED406k, the Corvette… well we’ll come back to that – it’ll be worth the wait, believe me. First let’s find out just how ‘new’ the new Vette is.

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12 new things about the 2014 Corvette Stingray

1. It’s built on an all-new aluminium frame which is 57% stiffer and 45kg lighter than before giving it an optimal 50/50 weight balance.
2. Although it appears smaller than the previous car it’s actually 58mm longer (with a 25mm longer wheelbase) and 33mm wider, although it’s 11mm lower.
3. A new naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 dubbed LT1, produces 20bhp more and gives around 35lb ft extra torque. It’s the most powerful standard Corvette ever, and performance is in the supercar league now.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Middle East road test
4. Standard carbon fibre bonnets and removable roof panels (all coupes are actually Targa tops). There are also composite fenders, doors and rear quarter panels and a ‘carbon-nano’ composite underbody panel.
5. All new interior trimmed in real carbon-fibre, aluminium and leather. Even the seat frames are made of magnesium instead of steel to save kilos.
6. Five driving modes ranging from Track to bad weather.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Middle East road test
7. New Michelin Pilot Super Sport run-flat tyres developed for the Stingray.
8. New electric power steering with 150% stiffer column, giving it a considerably strong shaft.
9. New Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system with USB, SD card and Aux inputs and 10-speaker audio featuring speakers with rare-earth magnets for reduced weight and size.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Middle East road test
10. Exclusive 7-speed manual transmission with rev-matching for both downshifts and upshifts.
11. Z51 Performance Pack available and pretty much a must-have thanks to LSD and Magnetic Ride.
12. Everything else! Well, apart from two parts shared with the previous car, apparently.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Middle East road test

What is the Z51 Performance Pack?

The Z51 Performance pack (fitted to the car in these pictures) can be identified by the bigger wheels – 19-inch on the front and 20s on the rear instead of the standard 18s and 19s respectively – plus the full length protruding rear spoiler. It also gets an electronic limited-slip differential, extra cooling for the transmission, differential and brakes, plus there are addtional air deflectors for better aero.

You also get the magic magnetic ride control suspension which reacts 40% quicker than before and heavier duty Bilstein dampers. There are standard Brembo brakes on the Vette, but the Z51 gets bigger discs.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Middle East road test

Able to pull up to 1.03g (yes I did see that on one roundabout thanks to the g-indicator in the excellent heads-up display) the Z51 package is essential for those that really like to drive their Vettes hard and intend to take it to track days.

Dramatic on the outside

Of course none of the above would be of any use whatsoever if this thing didn’t look long, low, sleek and in-yer-face. All of which it does. The classic Corvette signature style is all there, the swoopy never-ending bonnet with the coke-bottle side profile, Kammback tail, the set-back cabin, narrow glass house, tapering rear deck, and ground-hugging stance.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Middle East road test

The silhouette is perfectly Corvette, but there are hints of Ferrari in the style, the detailing, the headlights, the sheer presence of the thing. And it’s got star quality by the bucket loads. Which by inference rubs off onto you. Drive with the roof panel off and you feel like a rockstar – but an approachable one. Despite its rakish style, its sharp slashes and muscular bulging bonnet, this is a friendly sportscar. People take pictures, smile and wave, stop to chat.

Like the updated Camaro, the rear of this Vette has caused an uproar in some circles. But the quad-taillights are still there, now utilising neat projection LEDs. It’s gone a bit Manga back here, but the corner vents sweeping off the lights are functional – they’re an outlet for the cooling for the transmission and LSD. Then there are those four trumpet exhausts that leave you deafened just by looking at them.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Middle East road test

This thing is stunning to behold in person, and perfect from every angle, in any guise – coupe, roof-off, or convertible. And things don’t disappoint when you get inside either.

Inviting on the inside

It’s the most exquisite Corvette interior since the gorgeous C1 and C2 cabins. And there’s quality and class here. The materials used have already been name-checked above, but it’s the way they’ve been employed. For example they’ve made extra effort to flatten the stitching on the steering wheel so it won’t chaff your hands. The leather has been hand-laid on the dashboard. There is attention to detail here.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Middle East road test

The fit and finish is the best ever – things move, open, close, clunk, click and hitch just as they should. Everything feels tight. On top of that it all looks good, particularly the driver’s cockpit with everything angled towards the pilot’s pew. All the key controls prove intuitive and within easy reach.

It’s a very well thought out cabin, with surprise delight features like three different driving-mode-dependent displays on the eight-inch screen in the instrument panel, flanked by analogue dials. There’s a configurable heads-up display, the easy to use MyLink interface, and a secret compartment behind it – okay, secret that is apart from if you hit the big button marked ‘screen’.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Middle East road test

It’s cosy but comfortable, and the seats are great with excellent and adjustable support, particularly at the sides. The steering column is electrically adjustable, so it was no problem for me to get comfortable. And the passenger hasn’t been completely forgotten – they get their own little climate control display and buttons.

For the full-on experience, drive it with the roof off. Release the front latches, unclip the rear one and the lightweight panel is easily lifted out – light it might be, but be careful when putting it back, I mistakenly misaligned it and dropped it on my head when trying to do up the catches, ouch! The panel fits into the remarkably generous boot, held in place by a couple of solid hooks. And as before, the driver or passenger can easily reach back into the luggage compartment to retrieve any items therein.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Middle East road test

Does it feel quick?

Let’s hit the starter button and find out. Boom! There it is – the hat-tip to the musclecar heritage. Roar and rumble, not quite as loud as a Camaro ZL1 though, but it the LT1 motor definitely makes its presence known.

Slide it into Drive and straight into Sport mode – as well as changing the instrument displays, the modes impact the throttle, the transmission shift points, exhaust sound, LSD, steering assist, and in the Sport and Track modes dial back the stability and traction control systems. The ride quality is changed too, it’s fine in Sports, uncomfortable in Track mode – obviously that’s configured for smooth surfaces and maximum body rigidity – but as smooth as that in an executive car in Touring.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Middle East road test

Floor it, the revs jump, the trumpets play and the fat rear boots chirp before being reined in by the traction control. Try that again with the traction off, and the squirreling you’re expecting is there, but minimised as everything hooks up rather quickly despite the ample torque (as much as the old Z06 in fact).

Use the paddle shifts to get the best out of it, and they do their most satisfying and snappy work at over three-quarters throttle, tending to slur in the changes at lower revs, making the assumption that you’re looking for smoother, calmer acceleration.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Middle East road test

Having said that, I think this car deserves a better auto, and probably will eventually get the 8-speed GM-developed transmission in the just announced Z06 version – while they’re at it, can they make the paddles bigger and more prominent and give them a more mechanical feel. Meantime, the manual would be the more enjoyable way to shift ratios in this car.

It’s quick though with thrust being deployed in a most linear and manageable manner. It’s fast without being shocking and frightening. You feel in control.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Middle East road test

Hold on to your sides, this one does corners!

The small diameter steering – amazingly the Stingray designers resisted the obvious temptation to go flat-bottomed with it – is charmingly light, weights up a speed, and is responsive and accurate, with a little feel despite its electric engagement.

Turn-in is quick and crisp, the front digging in nice and early, then you can pivot around the apex, happily depend on those grippy rears and release the power nice and early. Not too early though, as then the traction system cuts in and keeps things from getting unseemly and lairy – squeezing back enough torque to launch you towards the next corner.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Middle East road test

The low centre of gravity, your bum-on-the-tarmac seating position, the equalised weight distribution and the stupendous road-holding, not to mention great chassis development, all make this a deliciously precise machine to pilot. It does an alarmingly good impression of a European sportscar and bests the 911 in that it’s a far less intimidating heart-in-your-mouth proposition than the rear-engined icon.

On the way home from your blast in the mountains, you simply put it in Touring or economy, pump up the Bluetooth and cruise with the engine switching down into V4 mode instead of V8 (a little display will tell you) and sipping fuel at a rate of just 8L/100km – this is economy hatchback territory!

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Middle East road test

Verdict

It couldn’t be easier to write this verdict. This is the most striking, most comfortable, most practical, fastest, best handling, and easiest to live with Corvette ever. And then there’s the price I said we’d come back to. Wait for it. Starting at an unbelievable AED250,000, that’s well over a AED100k cheaper than the rivals it’s gunning for. And it’s only another AED25k for the Z51, which is a no-brainer frankly. But there is almost a year’s waiting list already. Convertibles arrive later this year.

The C7 is the perfect evolution of the Corvette heritage, retaining all the glamour and kudos of the legendary American sportscar, but now more sophisticated, intelligent, plush and skilled than ever before. Remember this moment; from here on Corvette owners no longer have to make excuses, and the Europeans stop laughing and start head-scratching.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Middle East road test

Sure it’s almost entirely shaken off its latent muscle car tendencies in favour of finesse, but if you miss that, just go Camaro (ZL1 ideally) or perhaps opt for a previous gen C6 Vette ideally in best-of-breed last-of-the-line Grand Sport guise.

But if you’re looking for a car that’ll make you look and feel like a superstar, which the neighbours won’t hate you for, and which will go wheel-to-wheel with a Porsche 911 and quite possibly leave it smarting, then look no further. You have found your nirvana – it has Stingray motif on the side.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Middle East road test

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray – The Specs

Price: (MSRP quoted – check prices with your local dealers)
Coupe: AED250,000 ($68k)
Coupe with Z51 pack: AED275,000 ($75k)
Engine: 6.2-litre V8 455bhp @ 6000rpm, 465lb ft @ 4600rpm
Performance: 0-100kph 3.9secs, 310kph, 12L/100km
Transmission: 6-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Weight: 1499kg

Let us know what you think of the new Corvette Stingray below

3 responses to “2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Review”

  1. rashid alamiri says:

    Im buying this for me when I hopefully graduate.

  2. Mohamed Humaid says:

    Most comprehensive local review of the C7 I’ve read! Maybe the most informative that I’ve read. I like how it presents both facts and opinions, and how factual points are bullet-pointed or numbered. Reading this, and feasting my eyes on these stunning photos, I can’t help but emphasize the wish that this should be my next car (winning a mental head-to-head against the new Cayman GTS!). You know what’s sad though? Real life at-the-dealer prices can’t match the ones they provide the press. Dealers here are asking a whopping dhs330k for the one-spec-fots-all Z51 C7 they bring here! And this is for the 2014MY, I expect a slight increase further still once they roll out the 2015 MY with the 8-speed…

    • admin says:

      [Shahzad] Thanks so much Mohamed for your kind comments. It’s annoying about the price, but then they sold out the first year’s worth straightaway. I actually think the prices might go down to the manufacture recommended level when the initial crazy demand settles down, like it did with the Camaro ZL1 which was initially AED240k plus at launch, but is now priced at AED230k (BARGAIN!!)

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