There's been so much hype with the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, that we were hyperventilating the day we were expecting to finally have one delivered to our office. We thought we'd be getting in one with a manual transmission, but who are we to be picky? Why wouldn't it be a new seven-speed manual? Finally, when Friday rolled around, I ran to the car and found it to have the available six-speed automatic, and though it was an automatic, there was no doubt that this car was going to be fun. Just starting it put a smile on my face.
Finally, with this seventh-generation Corvette, we'd have the chance to see how good it could possibly be. We had high expectations going into this test drive, and we wanted to see if the car was worth the price and all the praise. Could it live up to the hype? We had to get behind the wheel and see for ourselves.
What We Drove
You can get yourself a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 for just under $54,000, but our test model came with a $65,530 price tag. For the extra $10,000, our Stingray was upgraded with the 2LT package ($4,210), which adds the Memory package, powered seats, Corvette logos on the seats, color keyed console and doors, a cargo net and luggage shade, heated mirrors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated and ventilated seats, a premium Bose sound system, advanced theft deterrent system, and a head's up color display. Also included on our model was magnetic ride control ($1,795), six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters ($1,350), multi-mode performance exhaust ($1,195), a carbon fiber interior package ($995), Chevrolet MyLink Navigation ($795), and suede microfiber seat inserts ($395). Another $10,000 in options are available for true diehards.
Standard features included the Z51 Performance Package, which added performance suspension, dry-sump oil system for aggressive cornering, limited-slip differential for better traction around corners, larger slotted brake rotors, black brake calipers, painted 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels, more aggressive tires, performance gear ratios, and the aero package.
Safety features included active handling stability control, airbags, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, run-flat tires with tire pressure monitor, OnStar, and a backup camera. Exterior features included high-intensity xenon headlights, daytime running lights, removable carbon fiber roof panel, and a carbon fiber hood. Interior features included Chevrolet MyLink with an 8-inch color touchscreen display, GT leather bucket seats, power adjustable driver and passenger seats, dual-zone climate control, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, carpeted floor mats, and a rear window defogger.
As a daily driver, one would think the new Corvette Stingray isn't the ideal car. And we would laugh at them. The Corvette immediately puts a smile on your face when you start it up. The growl of the engine foreshadows the enjoyment you're about to experience when you take it out on the road. The steering is precise and it handles like a dream. Poor road conditions did little to hinder the overall ride quality, thanks in part to the fantastic work by GM's suspension engineers. The automatic transmission provided an added sense of comfort when driving through traffic, but with more room to really test all 460 horses, the manual transmission may have been a better fit.
The only complaint we had about the performance of the new Stingray was that it was slow when accelerating if you didn't really step on the gas. It still gets up to speed quickly, but not as fast as you'd expect.
Trying out the infotainment system, we were a little surprised to see that although Chevrolet's MyLink has been updated, it still has some bugs that need to be worked out. Hooking up my phone to the Bluetooth was easy and painless, but when I tried to play my music, issues started to arise. When switching through songs, the system would shuffle go back and forth before it settled on the next song. Eventually, it worked itself out, but those first few drives made me not want to stream music. There was one function of the infotainment system that had me smiling. When stopping, the volume of the radio would turn down, and when getting up to speed, it would turn up to compensate for the roar of the engine. Although this feature was rather subtle, once noticed, it's hard not to appreciate it.
The Grocery Run
As the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 is a two-seater sports coupe, don't be overzealous when it comes to loading it up with groceries. Although the shape of the trunk may give one the impression that it is smaller than it is, it can still hold a pretty significant amount of items, as the glass is rounded out. I was able to stuff a laundry basket, along with a few filled backpacks and jackets for my weekend trip. The laundry basket didn't even bump against the trunk glass. The lid slopes farther down as it gets closer to the rear of the vehicle, which can limit space.
Because of the way the roofline slopes so severely, visibility has the potential to be limited if items are in the trunk. The backup camera comes in handy when backing up from parking spots, and because the coupe is so nimble, it has a good turning radius when stuck in tight spaces. One of the main issues I found with the new Corvette Stingray was its limited passenger space. Yes, these cars aren't designed for taller than average passengers. Head and legroom are rather cramped. A friend of mine, who is roughly 6-foot-5, didn't have enough legroom. His knees were up to his chest, and because the seat was all the way back, it made for an uncomfortable ride when traveling longer distances.
From a driver's standpoint, I felt that there was ample room, and although I may be 5-foot-9, it felt like there would have been easily enough room for someone around six feet tall. Another thing I noticed, which is true for all Corvette models, is that because they are so low to the ground, some people may have trouble entering and exiting the vehicle. But once inside, all worries are thrown out the window when you step on the gas and are thrust back into the seat.
The Weekend Fun
For winter in California, the temperature is usually in the mid to high 50s, but while I was graced with the Corvette Stingray, the sun was out and we had a high of 80 degrees. To celebrate, we took the top off and cruised down the beach. As there wasn't too much traffic, we were able to fully utilize the paddle shifters. Although this car would have been more fun with a manual transmission, the shifters provided enough fun without the pain that I would have ended up with in my left foot from hours of shifting.
After the trip along the coast, it was time to see how well the Corvette performed on the freeway. A trip to Temecula—about an hour and a half each way—was sure to show everything the new Stingray was capable of. Before we even knew it, we were up to speed, merged all the way to the carpool lane and we never broke 2200 rpm with the car in top gear. For the majority of the ride to Temecula, we hovered around 85 mph, and it was like it didn't even faze the Corvette. The buffeting from the open top started to get to us, and when we got to our destination, we put the top back up.
By the end of the four-hour roundtrip drive, my back was stiff, thanks to the sport suspension. This is by no means a good road trip or long distance car, but is great for drives around the city and cruising by the beach on the weekends. Because of the automatic transmission, it's much easier to drive for extended periods of time, but we wouldn't recommend more than three hours behind the wheel. Your back and neck will thank you.
Before the launch of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, the new sports car received so much hype that it seemed like it would never live up to it. We were impressed that it delivered on everything promised. This is a sports car for modern times, with sleek styling and aggressive performance. For just under $66,000, you're getting a lot of car for the price.
The Stingray should definitely be at the top of your list if you're looking for an affordable high-performance sports car under $70,000. There aren't many other models that can stand up to the new Corvette and deliver the same technology, optional features, and gripping performance for that price. Our only wish was that our test model was a manual transmission.
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