At the Russell Industrial Center in Detroit, Chevrolet took the wraps off the highly-anticipated, all-new 2014 Chevy Corvette, and at the same time announced the Stingray moniker is back for the first time since 1976. Less weight, more power, and lots more grip mean the C7 should be the best performing base Corvette in history.
"Stingray is one of the hallowed names in automotive history," said Ed Welburn, GM vice president of global design. "We knew we couldn't use the Stingray name unless the new car truly lived up to the legacy. The result is a new Corvette Stingray that breaks from tradition, while remaining instantly recognizable as a Corvette the world over."
While it could be a pretty big stretch to use a name last seen on the 180- and 210-horsepower '76 Corvette as an upgrade to the latest model, Chevrolet has found great success mining its past in order to claim sales (see ZO6, ZR1, LT1, Grand Sport, etc.). The car is slated to hit showrooms in the third-quarter of this year as a removable-roof coupe only. When it arrives, there will be a base model and a Z51 upgrade. They will share engine and drivetrain options, but the Z51 will have larger wheels and tires, an electronic limited-slip differential, dry-sump oiling, integral brake, diff and trans coolers, as well as a unique aero package. If history is any indicator, the convertible and higher-horse variants will soon follow.
Those looking for all-wheel-drive, mid-engines and other exotica will have to shop elsewhere. The new Stingray retains many of the traits found on previous Corvettes: transverse leaf springs front and rear, front engine, rear transaxle, and the fifth-generation of Chevy's famous small-block V-8, third coming of the LT1.
With 450 horsepower from its direct-injected, 6.2-liter V-8, Chevy is claiming the new Stingray will hit 60 mph in less than four seconds. While its 450 peak horsepower is only a tad more than what's available from the LS3 in the outgoing model, it does have 50 extra lb-ft of torque, matching the ZO6's LS7 from 1,000-4,000 rpm.
"Like the '63 Sting Ray, the best Corvettes embodied performance leadership, delivering cutting-edge technologies, breathtaking design and awe-inspiring driving experiences," said GM North America President Mark Resuss. "The all-new Corvette goes farther than ever, thanks to today's advancements in design, technology and engineering."
Among the highlights are an aluminum frame, carbon fiber hood and roof panel, a 7-speed manual transmission with Active Rev Matching, 50-50 weight distribution, and dual 8-inch configurable driver/infotainment screens.
"We believe the Corvette represents the future of modern performance cars because it delivers more power, more driving excitement and better fuel efficiency," said Tadge Juechter, Corvette chief engineer. "The result is better performance by every measure. The 2014 delivers the fastest acceleration, the most cornering grip, the most track capability, the best braking performance and what we expect to be the best fuel economy ever for a standard Corvette."
Only two parts are shared with the outgoing C6, and the C7 gets an all-new aluminum frame structure and chassis, a new powertrain and new interior and exterior designs. The frame itself is 99 lbs lighter than the steel frame on the '13 base models and the body panels weight 37 lbs less.
Inside Goes More Upscale
Addressing the most oft-criticized area of the '05-13 models, the '14 interior is upgraded with real carbon fiber, aluminum and hand-wrapped leather materials. There are two seat choices (both use magnesium frames) and an eight-inch, configurable infotainment screen. A color head-up display is optional. According to Chevy, the inerior blends fine materials and advanced technologies that contribute to a more connected and engaging driving experience.
"Every feature and detail in the interior is designed to enhance the driver's connection to the Corvette," according to Helen Emsley, interior and design director for the vehicle."
It starts with the fighter jet-inspired wraparound cockpit, continues to build with the smaller steering wheel, more supportive seats, and high-definition configurable screens, and is finished in gorgeous materials."
The cockpit's definitely modern and looks very accommodating. The wheels size is now 14.1 inches and is said to impart more direct, immediate feel to directional inputs. The seat coverings are now Napa leather, with the choices being a GT seat for all around comfort and a Competition Sport seat with more aggressive side bolstering for track days and spirited street driving. Anything would be an improvement of what's been in the car for the last nine years, but the stock chairs look pretty impressive. We'll let you know how they work in the real world when we get some seat time. Chevy has gotten ripped by customers and in the media over the last few decades because of the quality and types of materials used in Corvettes. They seem to have finally gotten the message because the materials are a big step up. Every surface is now covered with premium soft-touch materials. Depending on the trim level, this can include Napa leather, aluminum, carbon fiber and micro suede.
The instrument cluster is (like many modern supercars) digital, but not in a C4 video game sort of way. There's a big tach directly in front of the driver-finally!-right where it belongs. Naturally, it can be configured in numerous ways. Again, only seat time will let us know if it works like it should in a proper sports car, but we are optimistic.
There's a Driver Mode selector to optimize 12 vehicle attributes, configurable screens and head up display that can be tailored to the driver's preference, and a central touch screen that uses gesture recognition technology. The Mode Selector allows you to optimize the car for changing road condition via five settings: Weather, Eco, Tour, Sport and Track, and it all happens with the turn of a rotary knob near the shifter.
From a design standpoint, this could be the most controversial Corvette of all time. Viewed directly from the front, there's no mistaking it for anything other than a Vette. It's bold, in your face, and aggressive. The arching fenders and vented carbon fiber hood evoke every Vette since 1968. From the side, there are multiple modern influences ranging from the Saturn Sky/Cadillac SRX (side cove), Ferrari 599 (overall shape) and Nissan GTR (roofline). It's the first Corvette since the '56-62 models with the optional hardtop to have a rear quarter-window. Gone after 36 years is the glass bubble roofline/rear hatch. While this is a radical departure, we're OK with it. It's time for something new. The body is still a hatchback, so there should be plenty of room for luggage, golf clubs, etc., with convenient access.
From the rear, it's C6R racecar meets Camaro. Yes, we said it. The taillights have the family resemblance that first appeared on the back of the 2010 F-body, then morphed onto the current Malibu. Whether this will play with traditional Corvette enthusiasts remains to be seen, but we have to say the design looks absolutely intimidating from behind. It looks like it's ready to go to the 24 Hours of LeMans as is.
The taillights are, according to GM, the greatest departure from tradition. They have three-dimensional, sculpted lenses housing indirect LED lighting. The hidden LED lamps cast their light up from the bottom of the housing into a reverse reflector, creating an even glow. The lamps are integrated into functional air outlets for the available differential and trans coolers.
From the front, indirect white LED lamps for a distinctive daytime styling cue and they're set in a black-chrome housing with standard HID projector headlamps. Even the turn signals are amber LEDs.
"From the front or rear, the signature lighting brings the new Corvette to life," says Tom Peters, exterior design director. It looks beautiful, sinister and more than a little intimidating. It gives the Corvette a nighttime appearance unlike anything else on the street." Gone forever, it seems, is the essential Corvette shape that's been played on over the years since 1968. Any resemblance to past models is purely coincidental at this point, but the designers don't see it that way.
"Developing a new Corvette, while every designer's dream, is not an easy task, according to Ken Parkinson, executive director of global design. "The goal was a bold design statement that embraced the advanced technology of the car, while enhancingits overall performance in everything from the wind tunnel to the track. The result is a new Corvette Stingray, a fantastic car that breaks new ground yet remains true to the fundamental elements that make a Corvette a Corvette."
To make sure everyone knows what the car is, there's even a Stingray-shaped badge prominently displayed on both sides ahead of the doors.
Under The Carbon Fiber Hood
The Gen V LT1 small-block was covered in-depth in March issue of Super Chevy, but the short-take is it's another all-aluminum small-block, now with direct injection, Active Fuel Management and continuously variable valve timing, with an advanced combustion system. The engine is backed by a choice of 2.75-inch ctive exhaust systems that are less restrictive than those on the out-going car. The standard systems offers a 13-percent improvement in airflw and features a pair of buttfly valves that controubite to greater refinement at cruising speeds when the engine is operating in the V-4 mode. The optional system offers a 27 percent improvement in flow and has two additional valves that open to a lower-restriction path through the mufflers.
Power goes to either a seven-speed manual transaxle gearbox (Tremec TR6070) or a paddle shift-operated six-speed automatic. The manual uses a dual-mass flywheel and dual-disc clutch to help it deliver greater shift quality and feel through lower inertia. Those opting for the Z51 Performance Package get specific close-ratio gearing in the TR6070.
As for the automatic, shift points and feel can be adjusted through the Driver Mode Selector. In this age of seven and eight-speed automatics, six forward gears seems slightly retro. Chassis
The C7 retains its traditional transverse leaf springs front and rear, as well an a short/long arm suspension arrangement, but many improvements have been made. The lower control arms are hollow and save 9 lbs per car, while the new aluminum rear toe links are 2.4 lbs lighter. Wheelbase is approximately 1-inch longer, and the front are rear tracks are wide by about the same amount.
According to Chevy, the new Stingray will pull 1g on the skidpad, but do so with smaller wheels and tires than the outgoing car. This results in improved rolling resistance, less steering effort and road noise, more nimble feel, quicker steering response, and greater comfort.
Standard are 35mm-piston BIlstein monotube shocks that connect to dual-path aluminum shock mounts that separate the shock road and shock body load paths. The Z51 comes with 45mm pistons for more aggressive body control and track capability. Magnetic Ride Control is available on Z51 models, and we'd be hard-pressed to buy any car without it if it's available. The third-gen MRC on this car reacts 40 percent faster for improved comfort and body control.
A smart electronic limited-slip diff is included in the Z51 package and continuously makes the most of the torque split between the rear wheels. Brembo brakes are standard at all four corners, though the Z51 naturally gets larger front rotors. Because of the car's lighter weight, the base car can make due with slightly smaller front rotors (12.6-inches).
|Model:||2-door hatchback cope with removable roof panel|
|Construction:||Composite and carbon-fiber body panels, hydroformed aluminum frame with aluminum and magnesium structural and chassis components.|
|Engine:||LT1 6.2L V-8, 376 CID|
|Bore x stroke:||4.06 x 3.63-in.|
|Valvetrain:||Overhead valve, 2-valves per cylinder|
|Fuel Delivery:||Direct Injection|
|Transmissions:||7-speed manual or 6-speed paddle shift automatic|
|Front:||short/long arm double wishbone, cast aluminum upper and lower control arms, transverse-mounted composite spring, monotube shock absorbers|
|Rear:||short/long arm double wishbone, cast aluminum upper and lower control arms, transverse-mounted composite spring, monotube shock absorbers|
|Active Handling:||Magnetic Selective Ride Control (Z51-only)|
|Traction Control:||StabiliTrak, electronic stability control|
|Front and rear:||power-assisted discs with four-piston fixed front and rear calipers (slotted rotors with Z51)|
|Rotor Diameter:||front 12.6 (13.6 with Z51); rear 13.3|
|Front:||18x8.5 (19x8.5 with Z51)|
|Rear:||19x10 (20x10 with Z51)|
|Front:||Michelin Pilot Super Sport run-flat P245/40R18 (P245/35R19 with Z51)|
|Rear:||Michelin Pilot Super Sport run-flat P245/35R19 (P285/30R20 with Z51)|