Chevrolet's most iconic car, the Corvette, was redesigned for the 2014 model year. Riding a new platform the '14 'vette got a more powerful engine, freshened styling and all-new interior. For 2015, the Corvette gets a new optional 8-speed automatic transmission, some subtle electronic revisions and sees the return of the hot Z06 model.
|2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51|
Base Price: $58,000
As-Tested Price: $72,550
Built in Kentucky.
Magnetic Ride Control
Performance Data and Video Recorder
Carbon Spoiler and Mirrors
Engine: 6.2-liter V8, 460 horsepower
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic
Drive Wheels: Rear-Wheel Drive
Corvette is a two-seat sports car with rear-wheel drive that competes with vehicles like the Audi R8, BMW Z4, Dodge Viper, Mercedes-Benz AMG GT and Porsche 911. The coupe boasts a removable roof panel that stows in the cargo area below the rear hatch. The convertible features a power retracting fabric top. New for 2015 is enhanced OnStar functionality that includes an in-car 4G WiFi connection and a performance data recorder that captures video as well as driving data.
Standard safety features include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, side-impact airbags and a rear-view camera. Also standard is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking and stolen vehicle assistance.
For 2015, Corvette comes in two trim levels: Stingray or the new Z06. Either is available as either a coupe or convertible and come with 1LT, 2LT or 3LT packages. The Stingray model is also available with the Z51 Performance Package.
Powering the Corvette Stingray is a 6.2-liter V8 engine that makes 455 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. An optional performance exhaust system bumps those numbers of 460 and 465, respectively. The Z06 model gets a supercharged version of the 6.2-liter V8 that makes 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. Both engines come with either a 7-speed manual transmission or an 8-speed automatic.
The Corvette Stingray starts at $56,395 for the coupe and $60,395 for the convertible. Corvette Z06 prices start at $80,395 for coupe and $84,395 for convertible. Standard equipment includes 18-inch front and 19-inch rear wheels, Brembo brakes, HID headlights, heated mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, leather upholstery, 8-way power front seats and power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. Cabin technology highlights include OnStar (with this year's 4G LTE data connection with WiFi hotspot capability), Bluetooth, 8-inch color driver information display, an 8-inch central touchscreen with Chevy's MyLink infotainment interface, rearview camera and 9-speaker Bose sound system with two USB ports, auxiliary audio jack, SD card reader and satellite radio.
Additional available features on the Stingray include head-up display, cargo shade, heated and ventilated seats with power lumbar and side bolster adjustments, driver memory settings, upgraded Bose sound system with a subwoofer, premium leather upholstery and navigation system.
The Z51 package adds 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels, exterior aero trim, larger front brakes, slotted brake rotors, sportier suspension tuning, revised transmission gear ratios on the manual transmission, electronic limited-slip differential, differential cooler, dry-sump oiling and dual-mode performance exhaust. Z51 models are also available with adaptive suspension dampers that come bundled with an upgraded traction management system.
The Z06 adds the Z51's optional adaptive dampers, Z06-specific sport-tuned suspension, even larger brakes, wider tires, carbon-fiber hood, aero package (including wider front and rear fenders, expanded cooling vents and unique front grille and rear fascia), head-up display and flat-bottomed steering wheel with carbon-fiber spokes. Z06 options include Carbon-Fiber Aero package, which adds an enhanced carbon-fiber front splitter, carbon-fiber rocker panels and a larger rear spoiler with fixed "wickerbill" vertical extension at the back.
The 2015 Corvette is built in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and has a destination charge of $995..
Get Up and Go - Corvette's "base" 6.2-liter V8 provides more than enough thrust to propel the 3300-pound sports car to extra-legal speeds in a heartbeat. Most magazines peg the "base" Corvette's 0-60 mph time at 4 seconds flat. That's faster than just about anything on the road with a list price of less than $100K. Pull off the line is relentless and passing power borders on obscene as objects in the mirror disappear and become tiny specs in faster than you say, "get me outta here." Opt for the Z06's supercharged beast and you'll likely never encounter a car on the road that's faster - enough said about that!
Perhaps the best part of the Corvette's large V8 isn't the power it puts out, but the way it behaves. The engine burbles along in traffic without the slightest hiccup. Startup the motor and you are given a hint of the performance potential with a throaty growl and impressive mechanical whir, but once you have the 'vette in gear, the exhaust calms down and seems almost tame. Drop the hammer and things "loud up" as they should, but you can certainly pull up to grandma's house without setting off her danger alarm.
Another plus is remarkable fuel economy - should you choose to drive responsibly. The EPA numbers for the base Corvette with its new 8-speed automatic are 16 mpg city and an impressive 29 mpg highway. Unfortunately, premium-grade fuel is required. Routine daily commuting will likely average close to 20 mpg over an even mix of suburban and highway commuting. Keep in mind though, that even a mild stint of enthusiastic driving lowers the average economy into the high teens.
The V8 mates well to the new 8-speed automatic. Shifts are significantly more abrupt than you would find in a mainstream sedan, but certainly not jarring or out of place. Pick up the pace and the shifts are satisfyingly crisp and quick. The speed at which the new transmission downshifts is particularly impressive - not that the V8 needs to downshift much, but when it does, hold on.
As with any car that boasts more than 400 horsepower, traction can be a problem and Chevrolet has thankfully given the Corvette plenty of electronic safeguards. Though almost all can be defeated for track driving, the stability, traction and launch control do an excellent job of keeping even the most ham-fisted drivers out of the roadside ditch when they are showing off to their friends.
On the Road - Corvette has been the best handling American-made sports car for quite some time. The near-50/50 weigh distribution, race-inspired suspension and ultra-wide, low-profile tires have made sure of that. Unfortunately, previous-generation 'vettes handled bumps and expansion joints with the subtlety of a Conestoga wagon. With the 2014 redesign, Chevy engineers tried to create a Corvette that had no peer in the road holding department while, at the same time, provided a comfortable and forgiving ride.
The engineers succeeded. The latest Corvette handles as if on rails and doesn't beat up occupants.
The ride is certainly firm and communicative, however, it provides enough impact absorption to qualify as a boulevard cruiser rather than an all-out sports car - which is quite a feat considering the impressive handling limits. The longish wheelbase (for a sports car) gives the Corvette a more refined highway ride when compared to smaller competitors.
Handling limits approach obscene, this car simply goes where you point it at almost any speed. The steering is nicely weighted, direct and immediate. Brakes are among the best in the industry. The available Z51 performance suspension ups the road holding ante without much impact on ride harshness and the available magnetic ride control keeps the car flat in the corners at all times.
The Corvette is a bigger sports car and isn't quite as nimble as a BMW Z4, but it's grippy tires and sophisticated suspension certainly make it quicker than almost any other car in the world on a race track. Given the fact that the 'vette doesn't beat you up on the road, that's quite impressive.
Drastic improvements have been made in lowering NVH and interior noise levels. Still, the Corvette is nosier than a typical sporty coupe or even a performance-orientated sports car like the Camaro or Mustang. The wide tires thrum loudly on rough concrete surfaces and there's a fair amount (of enjoyable) exhaust noise when the engine is worked hard. None of this is out of place and thankfully the car cruises quietly when driven at a relaxed pace.
Behind the Wheel - The Corvette sports an interior that's seriously driver focused. Everything from the instruments to the canted center console to the head-up instrument cluster give the driver the impression that Corvette isn't just a poser. Materials are appropriate for the class and price.
As you might expect, there are plenty of gadgets and digital displays that provide a wealth of information. The instrument panel features a configurable display with large analog dials for speed, fuel and engine temp. In between, there's a large color display screen that is extremely configurable and can show a wide range of vehicle data. Center console features a large touch-screen for audio and climate functions and doubles as a display screen for the new performance data recorder. Below the center screen are traditional dials and buttons as well. All in all, the controls for the Corvette are well placed but do take some getting used to.
One control greatly simplifies driving and that's a dial located on the center console. At the twist of a knob drivers can dial in a host of settings to suit the driving style: Winter, Econ, Touring, Sport & Track. Take your pick and the Corvette's computer alters shift timing, throttle response, steering feedback, and suspension firmness. It even changes the display screen and head up display based on the knob's setting. Kudos to Chevy for making driving a very complicated car easy.
The front seats are very firm and confining, as they should be in a car with this performance potential. Thankfully, they aren't so firm that they grow tiresome on long trips and have a multitude of adjustments. Head room is actually quite good on coupes and there is plenty of leg room for drivers. Passengers get a little less leg room, but it's still OK for anyone under 6'4".
At 15 cubic feet, cargo space is impressive for the class, though it's just a huge open space behind the seats so small items slide about easily. Plus, it's not really deep, so if you have a tall item, it likely won't fit. Interior storage is limited to a small center-console bin, glove box and twin cup holders.
Bottom Line - Chevrolet, heck, America, has a lot to be proud of with the Corvette. It's a world-class sports car with a wide-ranging personality that's comfortable in a Fourth of July parade, cruising on the highway, running on the dragstrip and tackling a race track. The interior is finally adult comfortable and the technology makes driving this car quickly easy. At the sub-$70,000 price point the Corvette's performance is unmatched, there is no better sports-car value period. Anyone who tells you different is lying.