If I could wave a magic wand to improve the last generation Corvette, there’s a whole list of things I’d want to change on it.
I’d make the styling more sharp and exotic looking. I’d build it from more lightweight materials like aluminum and carbon fiber to keep the mass down. I’d give it more power, since a ‘Vette can never have enough of that. And I’d replace its cheap-feeling, Chevy-economy-car interior with something that actually belongs in a premium sports car.
Lo and behold, the folks at General Motors must have been reading my mind.
I just spent some time in the 2014 Corvette Stingray, a totally new generation of this iconic sports car, and it’s not just a big improvement that fixes the weak spots in the outgoing model.
It also is perhaps the best and most well-rounded American sports car ever built. And I don’t say that lightly.
It’s certainly one of the best I’ve ever driven, with an instant response to driver input and the kind of raw power that feels like it could snap your head off when you step on the gas pedal.
I drove a Stingray Convertible at Texas Motor Speedway — outside the track at street-legal speeds, not on the raceway itself, unfortunately — and came away impressed at the kind of magic GM’s alchemists were able to concoct. It has just enough retro touches to give it some of that old-school Corvette mystique, and driving it at any speed is a feast for the senses, especially in the drop-top version.
The standard 6.2-liter, 455-horsepower V8 under the hood makes a deep, throaty rumble at idle that crescendos to an ear-splitting wail when you step on the gas. A firm suspension, ridiculously wide tires, and steering and brake systems that are so precise they border on telepathic all combine to make this car something special.
And wild. Boy, it’s wild.
This is the kind of car that gives me a lot of respect for professional drivers because I — and the vast majority of drivers out there — can’t even come close to wringing the full potential out of this thing. Reaching its maxed-out performance on a road course would take almost superhuman levels of courage and skill.
Still, having all that power and performance available in a street-legal car is an awful lot of fun. It’s a great way to convert gasoline into noise and tire smoke.
While the Stingray’s 17-mpg city rating is not surprising, its 29-mpg highway rating is a bit of a shocker. Chevy calls the Corvette the “most efficient sports car on the market,” and they’re right. I can’t think of a single car that makes 455 horsepower while getting that kind of highway mileage. It’s one of those rare high-performance cars that won’t have you wanting to call a bankruptcy lawyer every time you stop at the gas pump.
Pricing starts at $53,000 for the coupe and $58,995 for the convertible. It’s not cheap, but it’s a downright steal for the level of performance you get for the money. You’re getting Italian exotic-car style and speed for a fraction of the cost.
It’s also the first time I can recall not needing a “but …” when describing the ‘Vette as a performance bargain. Last year, I would have written that its interior was stolen from the Little Tykes plastic factory.
This year, with the new model, there’s no need for a qualifier. The cabin in the car I drove was spectacular, including some great-looking bits that I noticed were copied from the $75,000 Cadillac ELR that I drove a few months ago. Everything is soft, tight and precise, exactly as you should expect from a car that aims to be the best in the world.