2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray First Drive
Something old, something new…that’s one way to describe the Corvette Stingray. Remember the original Sting Ray from 1963? That car, with its sleek new body and rear split-window, was quite a radical design for 1963. The same could be said for the current generation Stingray. Its new design is quite different from its predecessors but is still unmistakably a Corvette. The overall styling is also somewhat reminiscent of the 2009 concept car but with a sleeker body and less emphasis on the concept’s retro theme. One thing we quickly discovered while driving this car. This new Corvette Stingray is not for the introverted. We were constantly approached by people asking questions or giving us a thumbs up when we drove by. With styling that grabs your attention and won’t let go, it’s easy to see why people gravitate toward this new Corvette.
Pop open the hood and you’ll see what makes the Corvette Stingray really shine. Lurking underneath is a naturally-aspirated 6.2-liter LT1 V8 that features direct injection, variable valve timing, and active fuel management. Our test car with performance exhaust pumps out 460 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque. This seventh generation Corvette is only in its second year of production and Chevrolet has already been hard at work making improvements to the drivetrain. For starters, there’s the new eight-speed Hydra-Matic 8L90 transmission. This transmission was developed in-house by General Motors and replaces the old six-speed automatic that was available for 2014. Initially, we were a little bummed that our tester came with the new eight-speed automatic transmission. However, after spending some time out on the streets, the apprehension soon drifted away. We were also impressed to see the new eight-speed is around 0.1 seconds quicker than last year’s six-speed auto and the 6-speed manual. Shifts are extremely quick without any hesitation in acceleration and don’t thrash the car around every time it upshifts. With this much horsepower in a car weighing approximately 3,300 pounds, it’s relatively easy to propel the Corvette from 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds and run the quarter mile in just 12 seconds. To add to the driving excitement, the transmission can be switched to manual mode and manually shifted with paddle shifters. It’s easy to forget the new Corvette Stingray is also pretty fuel efficient. Thanks to active fuel management, which operates the engine in V4 mode, the Corvette Stingray gets 16 mpg in city driving and 29 mpg out on the open road.
The new Corvette Stingray drives like you’d expect a world-class sports car to drive. Punch the gas and acceleration is lighting fast and the eight-speed transmission upshifts quickly at just the right time it’s needed. As we mentioned before, there’s the option to switch to manual control. Just tug the console shifter to the manual position and use the paddle shifters on the steering wheel. Keep in mind that the transmission’s software is programmed to call for gears in advance of them being needed so manually shifting may actually be slower. Even with the automatic, we could chirp the tires between first and second gear under hard acceleration. However, thanks to the Michelin Pilot Sport’s firm grip, we felt in control under heavy acceleration. Rarely did we feel the car was going to fishtail during takeoff. One feature lacking on our Corvette Stingray was Z51 Performance Package. Initially, we were disappointed to see it absent from the spec sheet but, honestly, our tester performed like a champ without it. It just goes to show how great this seventh generation Corvette Stingray actually performs in base form.
We also did some driving out on the open road to see how the Corvette Stingray handles everyday driving duties. We were very pleased with the ride quality. With the optional 2LT package on our tester, we could configure the seats with power bolster and power lumbar to our liking. They have plenty of width and make for a comfortable and highly configurable ride. The steering feels tight and responsive without a lot of vibration when driving 70 mph down the interstate. The open road is also where we had the chance to appreciate some of the goodies our tester featured. The heads-up display is easy to read and doesn’t have that dot-matrix look that we’ve seen with other General Motors’ products. It’s configurable as well with readouts for four modes, including Track mode with g-meter, speed, and rpm. Another great option for 2015 is the Performance Data Recorder. This feature allows drivers to record driving videos with real-time performance data onto an SD card located in the glove box. The Performance Data Recorder gathers audio, video, driving statistics, and date and time. All this information is captured using a high definition camera integrated into the windshield as well as the car’s performance processor, internal accelerometers, and GPS. Video can be played back using the dashboard’s 8-inch touch-screen or on a PC. Driver’s can also analyze their driving by downloading the available Cosworth Toolbox software. How cool is that?
A quick scan of the window stickers reveals the base price of our Corvette Stingray to be $53,000. From there, the list of options grows quite substantially. The aforementioned 2LT package, with its power bolster and power lumbar, heated and ventilated seats, and head-up display tacks on $4,160. The ZF1 Appearance Package for $1,995 includes larger wheels and tires. The Performance Data Recorder with navigation tacks on another $1,795. The awesome sounding multi-mode performance exhaust will set you back another $1,195. The screaming Velocity Yellow paint adds $995 and the matching yellow brake calipers add another $595. Other goodies such as the $495 black aluminum wheels, $395 sueded microfiber seat inserts, and $100 carbon flash painted mirrors and rear spoiler round out the list. Factor in a destination charge of $995 and the total price is $67,445. That’s still quite a bargain when you look at a comparable Porsche 911 and Dodge Viper.
Anyone who thinks that the Germans and Italians are the only ones that can build a world-class supercar should take a second look at the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. Not only does the Vette beat the guys from the other side of the pond on price, it also rivals them in build quality and amenities. We had a blast driving this new Corvette and feel you will too. There’s still nothing quite like the Corvette. Go check one out for yourself.
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