Everything -- and we do mean everything. The first 500 2014 Corvette Stingray coupes off the assembly line are Premiere Edition models, which sport unique exterior trim, exclusive exterior and interior badging, and fitted luggage. A 2014 Corvette convertible will launch in the fourth quarter of 2013...
After sixty years, the Corvette name needs no introduction. America's sports car was born in 1953 and is now in its seventh generation. Although the Corvette grew heavy and slow in the 1970s and early 1980s, later models -- notably in ZR1 and Z06 guises -- managed to keep pace with European competitors but lacked the sophistication of their peers. After nine model years, the sixth-generation Corvette was finally discontinued, and an all-new seventh-generation model, known as the 2014 Corvette Stingray, debuted at the 2013 Detroit auto show. A convertible variant debuted two months later at the 2013 Geneva motor show.
Don't deny it -- you've been ogling the 2014 Corvette Stingray since its momentous launch in January. You're not alone. The automotive world has paid close attention to the 2014 Corvette, and for good reason. It may not be a high-volume model, and it may never contribute significantly to General Motors' bottom line like the new Silverado will, but despite its niche market, the seventh-generation Corvette is a metric for the abilities of New GM as a whole. Can the Corvette compete with European exotics without having to apologize for a low-rent interior? Can it set new standards for the segment instead of merely keeping pace with exotic machinery? Is world-class no longer a marketing buzzword but an honest description of the machine itself?
From our initial impressions, we'd say all signs point to "yes."
Let's look past that sharp-yet-sensual skin, with its functional cooling apertures and controversial rectangular quad taillamps. Look past even the interior, despite its upgraded materials, fanciful contrast stitching, and liberal use of leather trim. Macroscopically, the Corvette looks the same: front engine, rear-wheel drive, aluminum frame, and so on. But look closer. That engine, for instance, is an all-new 6.2-liter V-8 that boasts variable valve timing, direct fuel injection, and -- believe it or not -- a cylinder-deactivation function for fuel economy's sake. That active fuel management works only under light throttle; punch the gas pedal, and the V-8 serves up a healthy 460 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque. Launch the car right -- launch-control systems are at the ready -- and the Corvette can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds.
Both seven-speed manual and automatic transmissions are available, but the former is more entertaining -- especially since it now boasts a nifty rev-matching function that essentially heel-and-toes for you. Nifty? Wait until you learn more about the stability and ABS controls that adapt their settings to real-time tire temperatures.
Despite increased use of carbon-fiber bodywork and a standard aluminum frame (previously the domain of Z06 and ZR1 models only), the new Corvette actually tips the scales at 90 pounds more than the outgoing car. That extra heft is largely attributed to the overhaul within the cabin. For the first time in decades, the Corvette has a modern, attractive interior, with switchgear and materials that no longer feel as if they were sourced from the bottom of a GM parts bin. Bucket seats, even in their base form, finally offer the support demanded by a sports car, and the optional leather interior package dresses things up even further.
Tick every option box, and it's possible to load up a $51,995 2014 Corvette Stingray to well over $73,000. If you truly want to exercise the Corvette to its full potential, do make sure to at least opt for the Z51 Track Package. Although it adds $2800 to the price tag, it brings dry-sump engine lubrication, differential and transmission coolers, and a few aerodynamic tweaks. Most importantly, it also adds a new electronic limited-slip rear differential, which helps put down the V-8's power without inducing understeer.
That's a big change from previous Corvettes, which were either neutral or tended to push in corners. The 2014 Corvette is more than happy to rotate into corners, and it exhibits tremendous grip. But the biggest change may be evident only on a racetrack: the C7 is far more stable, sorted, and fleshed out when driven at its upper limits, even with its various traction and stability control settings defeated.
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