A few years ago, Chevrolet’s advertising agency created a memorable billboard for Detroit’s annual Woodward Dream Cruise, depicting a gorgeous red 1963 Corvette Sting Ray split-window coupe with the caption, “They don’t write songs about Volvos."
Chevrolet hopes to recapture the mystique of that legendary Corvette with the C7, the 7th generation of the car, which will carry the name, albeit tightened up to Stingray, that originated with the ’63.
On 13 January, the eve of the Detroit auto show, Chevy introduced the 2014 Corvette Stingray away from the Cobo Center, at an offsite event as tightly choreographed as the car’s teaser campaign. And though initial reactions to its styling have been mixed, there is beauty in the go-fast details.
To begin, with an estimated 450 horsepower – an increase of 20 horsepower over the outgoing model – the new car is nevertheless said to be more fuel-frugal, with predicted EPA highway mileage in excess of 26 mpg.
For the more-is-better file, the C7 brings a novel entry: a 7-speed Tremec manual transmission. Yes, the shift pattern may resemble a Pac-Man maze, but when the driver finds a gear, it may induce delusions of grandeur, thanks to Active Rev Matching – an electronic flattery system that blips the throttle on downshifts to make a driver look, or at least sound, like Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel at the Singapore Grand Prix. Or you can choose a 6-speed automatic (sigh).
Look for acceleration from zero to 60 mph in under four seconds, lateral acceleration of more than 1g and an important 80% reduction in aerodynamic lift at speed. Underneath, an aluminium frame similar to the one seen on the outgoing Z06 and ZR1 high-performance models is 57% stiffer than the old car’s steel frame and weighs 99 pounds less.
Carbon fibre in the hood, roof and underbody panels, along with lighter-density sheet-molded compound – SMC is engineer-speak for “plastic” – trims 37 pounds in body weight.
The new car also uses narrower wheels and tires than the outgoing model for reduced drag, rolling resistance and weight. Despite this mass reduction, no curb weight is yet available. Monte Doran, the manufacturer’s spokesman, will not even confirm that the new car weighed less than the old model. It is, however, about three inches longer and an inch and half wider than the 2013 car. Chevy assures us that the Corvette’s power-to-weight ratio is superior to that of a 911 Carrera or Audi R8.
Chevy also adds that the 2014 Corvette will be in showrooms “in the third quarter”, at a price to be announced closer to its sale date. Surely the convertible and high-performance editions will follow shortly thereafter.