As cars go, the Corvette is about as American as fireworks bursting into a stars and stripes pattern on the Fourth of July.
Now, Chevrolet is taking its legendary sports car to new heights while reviving the Stingray name first introduced in 1963. But unlike the “SS” badge that frequently found its way onto undeserving cars, this name will carry the weight it should.
It’s impossible to isolate one change that characterizes the seventh generation of America’s sports car and that’s a very good thing.
From the body to the drivetrain to the interior – yes, the interior – Chevrolet just unveiled the greatest car to wear the crossed flag crown since its inception. In fact, Chevy says this new Corvette has a better power-to-weight ratio than both the Porsche 911 and Audi R8. Curb weight is still unannounced, but the aluminum frame is 99 lbs lighter than the previous generation and both the hood and roof are made of carbon fiber.
All New Really Means All New
Literally everything about the car is new and exciting. So much so, in fact, that it’s hard to choose what comes first. Keeping that in mind, there wouldn’t be anything worth mentioning without the new LT1 small block V8.
General Motors’ new V8 makes 450 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. That’s enough to find 60 mph in under four seconds, but launching to warp speed is only part of the fun.
In fact, racing into top gear isn’t what has the AutoGuide.com staff so excited. That honor is reserved for the car’s rev-matching seven speed manual transmission that GM says will help the car achieve 26 mpg. Of course, downshifting for the hell of it will be hard not to do and horrible for fuel economy.
You aren’t likely to be worrying much about gas mileage on track days – something that will be hard to pass up on considering the car offers 50-50 weight distribution and is 57 percent stiffer than the outgoing model.
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Super Performing Suspension
The available Z51 performance package comes with an electronically controlled limited slip differential, dual-cast, slotted rotors and 19-inch wheels. Perhaps the biggest draw for the premium package, though, is the available magnetic selective ride control suspension that made the ZL1 Camaro such a track monster.
Hopefully you’ve got a second handkerchief because there’s more coming once you’ve finished wiping the drool from your chin
Reviving the Stingray name called for bold styling changes unlike the C6, which was more of a hop-skip than a full stride from the previous generation’s body.
“For the new Corvette to be called a Stingray, it had to deliver an incredible, purposeful visual impact – just as the original did in 1963,” said Tom Peters, exterior design director.
Chevrolet followed the industry trend and opted for LED lighting, most notably with what it calls “dual-element” taillights that depart more from traditional Corvette styling than any other element.
The front fenders are designed to reduce drag while the new hood vents help cut lift. The Z51 package also includes brake-cooling ducts and a unique rear spoiler.
Finally, a Real Interior
Finally, GM addressed long-standing complaints about the car’s interior.
There are two seat options to choose from, both of which are housed in a lightweight magnesium frame. Mind you, those seats could be made of diamonds and that wouldn’t make them any nicer to sit in, but that’s a detail to save for the test drive.
Chevrolet also added dual eight-inch infotainment screens equipped with its “MyLink” software. While this isn’t the first touch screen to sit in a Corvette, this is the first time for a so-called “infotainment” system. That might draw mixed opinions, but once again, it’s an issue for the test drive.
Cringe if you like over that idea, but the truth is that Chevrolet could probably put a dancing bear wearing a tutu on those screens and most people wouldn’t even notice.
This time around Chevrolet didn’t just tip-toe past the curve, it did cartwheels over it.
The Stingray is back and headed for production in the third quarter of 2013. Not only that, but it stands to give cars that were previously more premium-feeing some serious competition.