The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray arrives with edges sharpened
In a rational world, the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray wouldn’t exist. The very idea of launching a two-seat sports car named after a World War II ship powered by a truck-sized V-8 goes against every trend line on every chart in every automaker’s boardroom. Yet here it is, the seventh generation of America’s most venerated sports car, sharpened in all dimensions by racing experience toward out-hustling the best sports cars in the world. The question will be whether it can outrun history.
After 60 years of production, General Motors could have found ample reasons for waving the checkered flag at the Vette. Thanks to GM’s bankruptcy, the Vette has soldiered on longer than it should have without a major update; GM sold 14,132 last year, well off the 30,000 a year it sustained for much of the past decade. New U.S. fuel economy rules hit sports cars head-on, demanding the same measure of efficiency improvements in hot rods as in compact family sedans.
how: 60 Years of Corvette HistoryMore importantly, the Corvette has lost much of its cultural currency from the heyday of NASA astronauts drag-racing their free Corvettes on the beach, falling into the tar pit of an old man’s car competing for young people’s attention. From “Transformers” to the “Fast and Furious” movies, Hollywood prefers the new Chevy Camaro and those Vettes the astronauts drove. A survey from the popular Forza racing video game of the most-driven models found the modern Vette didn’t crack the top 40. And while you can still buy Barbie her classic pink Vette, it’s a far less popular choice than sending her off with Ken in a Mini Cooper.
On first view, the makeover wrought by Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter and team appears evolutionary. Yet every piece of the Vette has either been re-engineered or updated, from the new all-aluminum frame to the sharper, “shrink-wrapped” exterior to the 6.2-liter, 450-hp, 450 lb.-ft. V-8. That engine can now be paired to an optional Tremec 7-speed manual, a GM first, that will automatically match the engine’s RPMs to the anticipated gear in all shifts.
The biggest improvements come from applying modern electronic controls throughout the car for the first time. The Vette will have five driving modes that alter 12 different systems, from the optional electronic limited-slip differential that’s part of the Z51 track package to launch control. In “eco” mode, the all-new V-8 will shut off four cylinders for maximum fuel economy, while in “track” mode, Chevy engineers say the new Vette will pull more than 1 g of cornering force and run to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds. (Chevy vows to release exact figures, including prices, closer to the car's launch this fall.)