The 2013 Detroit Auto Show is a big event for Chevrolet. Not least because it was the chosen venue for the all-new Corvette C7′s unveiling. The 2014 Corvette marks the return of the iconic Stingray name, and it also sees the Corvette undergo its most radical overhaul since the modern-looking C5 took over from the distinctly dated C4. To quote Daft Punk, the C7 is harder, faster, stronger, better.
The C7 takes the usual Corvette recipe, but chucks out all the ingredients which have been causing issues since, well almost since the car was born. That means quality control has been dialed up significantly, especially in the interior where the Corvette has always been criticised against its peers, as well as significantly cheaper models. The exterior too has been sharpened up a bit, mainly with the aim of attracting more discerning buyers who were perhaps previously put off by the Corvette’s rather brutishly simple no-nonsense design.
The previous C6 generation had already proved itself in the performance department, especially the ZR1 which was more than a match for some of Germany and Italy’s most desirable offerings. So it comes as no surprise that the C7 builds on that benchmark and offers even more speed than the C6 straight out of the box.
At launch the C7 Corvette Stingray will be offered with a 6.2 litre LT1 V8 featuring direct injection, Active Fuel Management, continuously variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation for better fuel economy. This engine produces 450 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque. It’s the most powerful entry-level engine the Corvette has ever had, and offers a zero-to-sixty time in less than four seconds.
The transmission choices include a standard 7-speed manual unit or an optional 6-speed automatic. The manual transmission is from Tremec, and it incorporates rev-matching for both downshifts and upshifts. The automatic transmission is an updated version of the unit found in the previous generation Corvette.
When designing the new Corvette, GM’s engineers were careful to manage weight and improve chassis rigidity. That means that almost the entire chassis has been sculpted out of aluminium, like the outgoing ZR1 and Z06. The hood and roof are formed from carbon fiber, and while the rest of the bodywork is formed from a less exotic compound – fiberglass – it’s production method renders it lighter than on previous cars. However despite all this the C7 weighs in at roughly the same as the C6. So where did the extra lbs come from? Well mainly from that more luxurious leather clad interior, but also on the more extensive array of electronic wizardry found in the engine bay. Either way the C7′s chassis is better balanced, offering a near-perfect 50/50 weight distribution, as well as a lower center of gravity and being 57 percent more rigid than its predecessor.
As well as the standard Corvette Stingray, a higher performance Z51 package is available which offers a number of race-inspired goodies including, a dry sump lubrication system, closer ratio gears, an electronic limited slip differential, additional coolers for the brake, transmission and differential, Bilstein dampers with optional Magnetic Ride Control and Brembo brakes. Visually the Z51 Corvette will be marked out with larger diameter wheels, brake cooling ducts, and a different rear spoiler.
The interior of the new C7 Corvette Stingray is a real leap forward for the car. Taking it from a cheap, plasticky rattle-fest, to a modern leather wrapped, aluminium and carbon fiber trimmed fighter-jet inspired cocoon. The driver-focused cockpit features a smaller 14.1-inch (360 mm) diameter steering wheel, and three multi-configuration displays, including a pair of eight-inch screens and color head-up display.
At the core of the Corvette Stingray’s driver-focused technologies is the cockpit-mounted Driver Mode Selector, which allows drivers to optimize the car for their driving preference and road conditions via five settings: Weather, Eco, Tour, Sport and Track. The Driver Mode Selector is easy to use via a rotary knob near the shifter. The Tour mode is the default setting for everyday driving; Weather mode is designed primarily for added confidence while driving in rain and snow; Eco mode is for achieving optimal fuel economy; Sport mode is for spirited road driving and Track mode is for track use.
The Corvette Stingray delivers an advanced infotainment system, featuring Chevrolet MyLink and high-definition radio, as well as enhanced OnStar with 3D navigation maps. An additional USB port in the center console, a stand-alone audio input jack and an SD card slot provide extra connectivity.
There’s no word on price yet. However the C7 Corvette Stingray will be in the showrooms in the third quarter of 2013.