2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray First Drive

A. J. Mueller

If you want to totally enrage Corvette fans, here's a fun thing to do: argue that the Corvette should be a four-cylinder. Then watch the capillaries burst in their cheeks as red-hot indignation flows like 93-octane through a Holley double-pumper. The notion of neutering the Corvette down to anything less than full V-8 glory is right up there with pawning the Constitution to China or outlawing hamburgers or declaring soccer the national sport. And yet, when you see a new seventh-generation Corvette lope past on the street, chances are it's powered by a four-cylinder -- 3.1 liters, 126 hp, and 221 lb-ft of torque. Oh, great. Texas just seceded.

Fear not, fellow Americans, for the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray's four-cylinder antics are strictly temporary, and the new 6.2-liter LT1 small-block can be instructed to keep all eight cylinders ready to spin out 460 hp at a prod of the throttle. But the fact that the Corvette even offers cylinder deactivation is a signifier of how thoroughly reengineered the C7 is compared with its predecessor. This is not a C6 with 25 more horsepower and LED strips draped along the headlights.

I get my crack at the C7 at GM's Milford Proving Ground, where the first order of business is for a security guard to carefully place GM-issued stickers over my iPhone's camera lenses. Then we head out to the Black Lake to drive a . . . C6? The yellow Z06 is stuffed with what looks like Mars Rover lab gear beneath the hatch -- data-gathering equipment for the new active electronic differential, dubbed eLSD. GM developed the eLSD in-house, and this Z06 mule can demonstrate the breadth of its capabilities with the flick of a switch. Essentially, an open diff lets the rear end rotate and point the car into a turn, as evidenced by the tank-slapper that ensues when the steering wheel is cranked 45 degrees at 60 mph. A locked diff helps put the power down but results in a car that wants to go straight, a point proved by the Z06's dogged understeer after the same 60-mph juke to the right. Thus, the challenge was programming the electronic diff to progressively manage those two goals in real time as the car circles a racetrack. If you're going to go through all this trouble, why not go all the way and have a torque-vectoring active diff?

"Well, torque vectoring adds weight and cost," says Heath Holbrook, the guy in charge of developing the eLSD. "And if you've already got a lightweight, well-balanced platform, then you get 90 percent of the benefit without the drawbacks."

"So torque-vectoring is kind of a Band-Aid?" I ask.

"You said it, not me!" Holbrook replies.

The C6, frankly, needed some sort of Band-Aid where its ten-tenths behavior was concerned. Although it was always a world-class speed demon, a C6 at its limits is one of the scariest rides that doesn't involve rodeo clowns. Maybe it has something to do with GM building its own private racetrack ten years ago, but more recent cars like the Cadillac CTS-V and the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 feel much happier on a road course than the outgoing Corvette does, even if they're not as fast.

To see whether that situation has changed, I fire up a searing red C7 and head onto an autocross course set up on the yawning expanse of blacktop. Chris Barber, vehicle performance engineer, rides shotgun. First impression: this thing sounds like a Vette, with a deep, ragged rumble that smooths out as you release the clutch. Second impression: great seats. Much has been made of the fact that the C7 offers two seating options: all-around touring seats and track-biased competition chairs. I ask Barber if this is the competition seat, and he informs me that this is actually the relaxed-fit base model. Compared with the old car's flabby, lazy-river chaises, even these standard seats are like Le Mans prototype racing shells. "I think the standard seats would be fine for most people, even for track driving," Barber agrees.

After a few acclimation laps, I run through the Vette's driver-assistance programs as I get more daring with the throttle. Like the ZL1, the C7 will progressively draw back the curtain on its capabilities according to your comfort level. Track mode is the last stop before "everything off," and the idea is to provide the kind of high-performance traction control that would be outlawed in most actual race cars: flatten the pedal on corner exit and the car will deploy as much power as the tires can handle, just like a Ferrari 458 Italia in race mode.

The Corvette's power management isn't as smooth as Ferrari's -- when your throttle foot overwhelms available traction, the big V-8 makes anguished stuttering noises that let you know it's struggling not to Hulk out and spin you into the bushes. But man, does it work. GM says that a pro driver will turn the fastest laps with everything off, but a driver who's merely really good will be fastest in track mode.

Out here, with nothing but cones to hit, I want to find out if the eLSD has tamed the Vette's appetite for destruction. So I deactivate stability control and go hot into the wide sweeping left at the beginning of the course. Tires howling, rear end crabbing, this would be the point where a C6 would reveal exactly where my skills run out. But the C7 hangs on and swings through the next slalom, the nose darting into the corners on lift throttle and the tail settling with a dose of power. Of course, I test the laws of physics and manage to spin a few times, but on the last set of corners, the rear tires leave a neat pair of stripes scribing an ess out onto the main straight. "I never could've done that with a C6," I say. Barber, gamely abiding these shenanigans from the passenger seat, translates my observation to engineering terms: "The C7 will tolerate more slip angle." Now let's go to the track.

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Joe Halstead
Finally! A corvette WORTHY of my praise and admiration!!!! A whole lot of thanx to Tadge for his dedication to improving the vette. Now, I just have to wait for the Z06 version - that would be a Vette that can eat a Ferrari and Lamborghini for breakfast and have room for snacks!
Norman Merhaut
There must be an error in the weight mentioned for the C7 in this article.  The author says 3298 pounds but the specs at the end say 3402. My 2009 Z06 is just over 3200 so something's amiss here. I'll still wait for the C7 Z to arrive but this sure looks like a winner. I've heard that the competition seats won't be available for some time because of the supplier. Not sure if the dealer is correct on this or not.
To John Amos.. "Not So Good Times" >John, did your Mom not teach you that "If you can't say something nice, then don't say anything.' ?? (-;
First of all, your 'stomp-down' on the Corvette is based on comparing it to cars that are MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE!
How do you think GM -- or ANY Manufacturer -- is going to provide a vehicle "EQUAL" to other top-level vehicles at HALF (or LESS!) of the price! You can't expect a Cadillac to be EXACTLY EQUAL in every way to a Rolls Royce, or a Jeep to be a perfect match for a Mercedes or Range Rover SUV! Corvette certainly has SOMETHING going for it, if Ferrari is using CORVETTE/CADILLAC suspension technology! And many of those "plastic trim" parts you mention are NOT PLASTIC! They are simply painted or anodized in black, since that is becoming very popular lately. So...if you want the Corvette to be "equal in every way" to the very top-level vehicles...then expect to pay $250,000 and more to buy one!
Secondly, Please NOTE that the Corvette is not FROM DETROIT! And NEITHER is the Camaro! So your love for that City, and your desire for its return to success and glory has little to do with Corvettes. And if you thing a Viper has more "Personality" and somehow is so much better, or even 'elevated' to a level so far above the Corvette... then maybe you should take a CLOSER LOOK at the 'detail and quality' --- or LACK thereof --- in a Viper! AND the LACK of technological advances, as well! "Raw and Brutish!"... SURE it is! But you can get THAT with a Corvette too! Just add HP and disconnect most of the wiring ... 
This is for the Automobile Staff - WHY do you keep on reporting on the new C7 Test Drive positives - and touting the $52,000 Price of the Base Model - when what you are testing is the $70,000 C7 with all the Z-51 Options?? I realize that these are the only Models you were given to Test - but you COULD at least make a differentiation....I expect more from you Guys and Gals!! Might expect this type of info from C&D, but NOT from Automobile.........please don't drink the GM/Corvette cool-aide !!!
Guess I'm going to stop watching & reading all the Auto Media news on Road Tests of the C7 - they all keep touting the $52,000 price of the "base model" - all the while DRIVING the $70,000 Z51 Model..............that comes fairly close to "fraud".............in my opinion
Rahul Singh Chauhan
Having driven my nephew's new Camaro SS, I now know that high horsepower cars are pretty much useless in states where there is automobile congestion.  I would be happy with a slow car that would be more useful and more fun.  On the other hand, this new Corvette seems to be so beautiful and delicious it is difficult for me to not empty my bank account and put myself on the list.  (This sentence sounds good, but honestly I can't afford a new Corvette.  So....I am waiting to see how good the 2014 Mazda3 with the 2.5 Skyactiv engine will be.  And Mazda better get the manual in it sooner than later-- or we will have to remove one zoom from Mazda.
Cannot figure out the 'GM haters' due to the gov't bailout - gotten a home loan lately? Probably from Fannie or Freddie - also was bailed out by gov't - no one seems to be bothered taking a loan from them.......interesting....
Amir Ghods
WOW ! Left with white wall !
Wow, The comments below are better than the article. Lots of great opinions and most make of them are logical. All I know is I had bad luck and bad service on the three I have owned int he past years. However I have to admit When I need a new car I will be cross shopping the new Corvette and the new Jaguar F.
I've owned 7 and never had buyers remorse, well maybe a little,  with the 2001, I still own a 73 and an 09 and drive them.. one to work one to coffee......great cars, great fun, great bank for the buck. Always wanted one as a kid and still want one .. will get a C7 in a year or two when they are a wee bit cheaper and someone decides shifting gears is too much work.  I've had three C6's and they are great: fast, comfortable enough, reliable, very good on gas when cruising in 6th at 1300 rpm or so. I've owned other fast cars, SSR, shelbys, trans-ams even a TVR and a Lancia not so fast but pretty. I am not a fanatic but I am a fan and value driven. Are they as awesome as the new Porsche 4s @ 105K no, or a ferrari at 250-350 whatever...........but at a base 51K or so give me a break............I' ve had the z51, 3lt's etc and in the end the extra 20 k for magnetic shocks, drilled rotors, HUD, is nice but the basic vette is 95 percent as good.  I will buy a C7 and I will be very happy with it, fact is I will love it.  I jsut came back from the annual homecoming and it is true if you have seen 25 vettes you have seen a thousand...........but what a happy bunch of people....it's like a Jimmy Buffet Concert..everybody .seems .happy...although tonight it's  Darius Rucker at the museum. I go once every year or so. I think the factory tour is about as American as it gets, its free and just as good as the museum. So lets not compare cars that cost multiples of the price of a corvette with it just be happy you can afford that and I will be happy with my Corvette. And if we meet good luck with my dynoed, etc 6 speed C6 unless your running a Nissan GTR  great value also  or such you will be looking at those ugly tail lights.......even more so when it is a C7 and your CaymanS or whatever even the new 4S only posted 4.2 or so to 60.  in so far as price increases the 90's were the worst my 94 convert was 44K and to think a 2014 base is only 51k.  Hell my kids Volvo not to mention  LR4, wow what an ugly car, cost more than that. And they don't seem to smile when they drive them. Go figure  my kids are the same way they would never own a corvette what did I do wrong.

It's been years since a Corvette excited me, but the new C7 gives me hardwood... We're talking about the world's densest wood, African Blackwood. After three Ferraris  and a Porsch 911 Cabriolet in recent years, the idea of ever owning another Corvette seemed extremely unlikely. Getting behind the wheel of a C5 or C6 after driving any of the aforementioned and extreme disappointment overwhelms the senses.  After all, enough with the Corvettes, I had owned a '74 454, an '84, two '86 Z51s, an '89 convertible, and a '95; all new. But after watching Automobile's video review, and seeing the C7 Stingray monster in action, and after seeing how exotic it looks and sounds, it's clear that GM will soon be making one with my name on it... A convertible; after all, I do live in SoCal where the sun seems to never stop shining.  Even if the stereotypical California girl now has brown hair and answers to Maria; I have no doubt that this new Corvette will have her begging for a ride... You never know when hardwood will come in handy. And the new Stingray delivers plenty.
Hi Larry:  Sorry if I gave you the impression I was openly criticizing you.  Believe me, I know you are not a Vette hater.   Your comments on your '63 are spot on.  My uncle had a 427/435hp with sidepipes that was a BEAST.  The car was way ahead of the tires.  Even the widest tires, in '63, were still narrow.  I also agree with you the '03 ZO6 is truly one of the car ones.  You could not build this car today for $75,000 to $80,000.  This is only a 3% increase each year for the 10 years.  Have a great Friday and weekend Larry....and to everyone else. 
Our author A.J.  stated "The C6, frankly, needed some sort of Band-Aid where its ten-tenths behavior was concerned. Although it was always a world-class speed demon, a C6 at its limits is one of the scariest rides that doesn't involve rodeo clowns" To which this adrenaline junkie says ...yeah wasn't it great!To be sure there are not many who could ring out all the juice from a C6 certainly not me, but the few times I've tried, whew that was awesome!
Raymond Johnson
I remember when they cut the flip lights the old foggies got mad about that just like the tail lights that look stunning. Who in there right mind would for one minute think Camaro and two would want some non-detailed circles. 'I guess the same bunch that loved those cheap interiors. I am so glad Chevy chose to break the mold and move forward and make the car no excuses and a true world champ. Hold on to the old crown and you can't move forward.
David Burley
Nice! GM has done a great job with this car as they have with the Cadillac brand. Too bad they had to be bailed out by the government. I swore to never buy another GM or Chrysler product and have lived up to that promise but I sure hate missing out on this Vette. I congratulate the team that had to fight to get something like this launched. I'll turn my attention towards a nice used 997S.
Everything bad about the previous Corvette is fixed, everthing good about the previous Corvette is improved.  Superb job, GM!
Must have one.............
I agree with others. Having a vette in our family, I feel that there are many aspects that are iconic to a vette. Like the tail lights. Why have have they put glorified camero tail lights on a corvette. Stop the presses, is it too late, ha ha. May a good aftermarket company can have a fix in a year or so.
i know it's a nit (and it takes nothing away from the technical/engineering improvements of the C7 -- which is ESSENTIAL to the continuation of the brand), but i really do miss the iconic porthole taillights ... if Ferrari can continue to using round taillights and make them look modern (just as BMW continues to do with its iconic round headlights), why couldn't the Corvette designers? ... i'm ok with the euro-style tailpipe cluster (altho' i stil like split L/R pipes better) and definitely like the undercarriage aero treatment, but the Camaro-ish taillights are gimmicky and make me sad ... 
This is a great car, but I will stay with my '03 Black on Black ZO6.  The weight is 3,118.5 lbs with 405 hp the pwr to weight ratio is 7.7.  For a "really" stock sport car from a decade ago....that is amazing.  captlwr criticized the weight in the corvettes he has owned.  The ZO6's are lighter than the coupe or the convertible.  When I bought this car the sales rep told me this would be the best car I WILL every own.  He was right.  I can do 3.7 seconds on a bad day and 12.1 in the qtr.....while driving to see my grandchildren at 65 mph getting 28 mpg.....no car in the world can claim those numbers.....Bowling Green simply built the car I always knew they could.  Have a great day everyone.  Oh....resales is, dollar for dollar, better than a Porsche.
awesome car, wish it had rear circle lights but other than that, a real porsche and jag F-type competitor. GM's that handle better than BMW's who would have ever thought???(ATS and now corvette)..
Atul Jotangiya
le... vech nu saru karyu k su bhai........????
Leandro Zulueta López
Raymond Arrieta
My "opinion" now - and owning 3 Vettes before - 63 Coupe Manual, 86 Z51 Manual and 06 Coupe Auto.............I don't care HOW fast it is - it is still TOO BIG and TOO HEAVY!! You can make ANY car fast by increasing HP & Torque. You can make a 5000 lb car just as fast with 1000HP - but what about the MASS???!!! Just LOOK at it next to a Boxter/Cayman!! It may be FASTER - but just LOOK at it's SIZE and compare WEIGHTS......really disappointing - to me............
Fred 'Eric' Tan
Beautiful heritage :)
I love the intro to your piece. This review trumps all the others to date!
Chris Story
Great review! Can't wait for a full, road test.
Chris Story
One of the rear-end pic's says C6, it's a C5.
@captlwr You sure got that right!
@dsm4expert What you said is basically the "right" idea...............There is a really good archived Test of a basic 63 Coupe on the C&D website - and it says all that I could agree with as I owned a "basic" 63 Coupe 327/300 w 4-spd and NO electronic goodies. I can sure understand why today those electronic goodies are there, yet I still bemoan the days when they weren't. Gave the C7 a hard look on the Chevy Website - to me..........it looks stunning in "black" and is one of the few cars that can wear "black wheels" well............the new Seat quality also looks really good. The 63 was a big departure from previous Vettes - and the C7 is the same..........so give it some time as I'm also doing. As for buying one.....I don't think so driving in City Traffic with the Fort Lauderdale Loons................but the more I look at it, the more it does seem a Big Stride!!!
@Bosman Hey Bos - I'm not putting YOU in that line I wrote about "Kooks" !!! I just always find it amazing that they come out of the woodwork when anyone posts a subjective opinion about a certain car that someone else loves...........it's a real lesson in "emotion vs logic" !!! Again - enjoy your Z06!!!  Larry
@Bosman I'm with you on your opinion - and just FYI I never did criticize the weight of my first 3 Corvettes - just this one - which in a complete re-design had the potential to become a lighter, smaller and yet still great Sports Car. Of the 3 I've owned I'd take my 63 327/300 4-spd back in a heartbeat (no PUN intended!!) - I'm no Vette Hater - merely posting my opinion - really interesting what kind of Kook replies you get when you do just that!! Enjoy your '03 Z06 - one of the few "great ones".............Larry
@captlwr While the C7 might be a bit bigger and heavier than a Porsche Cayman/Boxster, it is, in fact, slightly shorter overall, and about the same weight (depending on model and equipment) compared with the 911. More importantly, Chevrolet has gotten over its fear of neutral/oversteer. Unlike past iterations, it no longer feels nose-heavy, with too much understeer.
John Swenson Harvey
@captlwr So what if it is a little bit heavier?  If it can (as you admit) go faster than the Boxster/Cayman what is the problem?  If it can faster in a straight line, faster in a corner, faster around the track, faster in the quarter mile or the half mile, in short if it can beat the lighter car in any category what is the problem?  NOTHING!  Have fun looking at the new Corvette's tail lights in your "lighter" car!
@captlwr Another jamoke cutting and pasting his opinion on ALL the mag reviews. Not cool.
@todd.lassa @captlwr Todd - look, I am not posting my opinion here (and at C&D - not all over!!) to change anyone's opinions on the C7 - that is a right of all. What I'm stating is that - to me - it is disappointing simply because it is not smaller & lighter - which it could have been. And I also have not bemoaned the weight issue in all the Vettes I have owned - just this new complete re-design - my 63 Coupe weighed 3050 lbs - and I know it was "slower" but "feel" means alot in Sports Cars. FYI - the new Cayman IS in fact shorter, narrower and almost 400 lbs lighter. I have never owned any Porsche but have driven more than a few. As far as the "advertised pricing" of the new Standard Vette that's fine - but which type did they give all the Mags to test?? Not a "standard" Vette but a standard Vette with the Z51 Option and THAT is not the pricing they're advertising - I'm pretty sure it's much more - like around $60,000. I'm not in any way, shape or form a Vette Hater - I'm just "personally" disappointed in the re-design - yes it's fast and puts down great G and Braking numbers besides, but try to drive one of these "biggies" in Moderate Traffic - my 06 Coupe always felt "too big" to me - and that plus the fact that the new (in 06) Auto Trans didn't work as advertised (which Chevy cared LESS about) drove me to trade it in after 5 months and 5200 miles........
@John Swenson Harvey Hey John - and just "where" would I be doing that "looking at tail lights" ??? On some busy city street filled with traffic??!! Grow UP!!!!
@Crossofiron @captlwr So let's see - I "post" my subjective opinion about the C7 on TWO websites - C&D and this one - and now you're making a personal attack on me for my opinion on a CAR??  You need to see Psychiatric Therapy.....
@Crossofiron @captlwr Or how bout a F86 of BRZ???  A '93 RX-7 R1 (which I previusly owned) ?? FYI - when I traded in my '06 Vette I bought an '07 Eclipse Spyder GT 3.8L V-6 with a 6-spd Manual - and the difference in size, engagement and control of that car was amazing in everyday driving in traffic - and trust me I DO know that the Spyder was slower and even heavier than my '06 Vette but in 7/10's City Driving it was much more enjoyable - right now I'm driving a '12 Si sedan (6-spd manual) - in traffic - and it's also engaging, agile, quick and the "right size" (for ME!!)
@captlwr Well I bet that you could get a Mini or a Miata. They would not be too big in traffic.

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