By Paul Eisenstein -- The Detroit Bureau .com September 18, 2013
It’s long been known as “America’s sports car,” but despite having some fine attributes, the Chevrolet Corvette has long lagged that global sports car benchmark, the Porsche 911. So, when we got our first look at the all-new, seventh-generation ‘Vette during a sneak preview in a well-guarded conference center last December, we were left wondering whether the folks at General Motors might have finally taken the challenge seriously and were set to give Porsche a run for the money.
True, from a financial standpoint, the 2014 Corvette Stingray wins hands-down. You can get a fully-equipped Chevy for around $72,000, or barely two-thirds the price of a similarly well-contented Porsche Cayman, never mind the 911. But when it comes to sports car cred, price takes a back seat to other numbers like horsepower, power-to-weight ratios, cornering forces and the like.
The Last Word!
The good news, as we recently experienced during a long day’s run through the hills and dales of Central California, is that the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray stands up on every count. No wonder the maker is finally confidant it can gain traction for the new 2-seater beyond our shores. The latest incarnation of America’s sports car is now good enough to be a global player that just also happens to be a good bargain.
The new Corvette features a new mode control dial that covers conditions varying from Comfort to Track.
The outgoing C6 Corvette, which has been in production since 2005, was perhaps the first in generations to suggest that Chevrolet could really produce a world-class sports car. But at least on paper, the new C7 clearly is something the competition should be worried about.
Ironically, the car almost never made it to the street. Officially, the new model is the result of a 3.5-year development program. But the project was repeatedly delayed as General Motors slipped into bankruptcy. Ironically, suggests Corvette Chief Engineer Taedge Juechter, that may have been a good thing because it allowed the engineering team to access improved technology and the styling team to push through what they felt was a better design than originally approved.
The new model is roughly the same size as the outgoing ‘Vette – with approximately the same footprint as a Porsche 911. The numbers: 176.9 inches in length, 73.7 inches in width and 48.8 inches high. The wheelbase measures 106.7 inches.
There’s an all-new hydroformed aluminum frame that shaves significant mass while delivering the stiffest Corvette chassis ever, about 60% over the current C6 model. Even if you were to shave the roof off, it’s 20% stiffer than the current C6, notes Juechter. And, yes, they know that because the platform was designed from the get-go to maximize the performance of the upcoming Corvette convertible without adding any additional bracing. . .
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