Behold the C7. It is radical in every aspect of its styling, yet its technology and underpinnings represent the latest evolution in the Corvette's design. Some naysayers have called it anything from a Ferrari to a GTR and Viper knock-off with a Camaro rear end. To be fair, the 2014 Corvette Stingray's front-end is no more a Viper knock-off than the Viper is a knock-off of the C6. While it is hard to deny the similarity to the Corvette's new rear end and the fifth-gen Camaro, or to the Ferrari 599's overall shape, is that a bad thing? It would stand to reason that there would be some continuity in style within the same brand, and if you are going to imitate the style of anything-why not a Ferrari?
"Stingray is one of the hallowed names in automotive history," said Ed Welburn, GM vice president of global design. "We knew we couldn't use the Stingray name unless the new car truly lived up to the legacy. The result is a new Corvette Stingray that breaks from tradition, while remaining instantly recognizable as a Corvette the world over."
I couldn't agree more. Not a fan? Give it a few years. I myself wasn't a huge fan of the C6 when it first came out, but a few years later I was in love. However, the one thing that is undeniable about the new Corvette, it is packed with the latest cutting-edge technology and has some huge advantages over the C6. Starting with the interior, premium materials such as carbon fiber, aluminum and hand wrapped leather will envelope the driver. The steering wheel is only 14.1-inches in diameter, and is designed to deliver a more direct feel to inputs (along with the electric steering assist). The seats were also a major focal point and a major step forward, giving two options: one for the typical owner and another for the enthusiast, each being more supportive while using a magnesium frame to cut weight with Napa leather and 8-inch configurable driver/infotainment screens. The technology doesn't stop there; a five-position Drive Mode Selector customizes 12 vehicle attributes to fit the driver's liking (including the gauge cluster configuration, active exhaust system, electronic throttle control, Active Fuel Management, Magnetic Ride Control, Launch Control, Active Handling, and Performance Traction Management).
A brand-new 7-speed manual transmission is built for spirited driving, using Active Rev Matching to anticipate gear selections and match engine speed. [A six-speed paddle-shift automatic will also be available.] Speaking of engines, the 6.2L LT1 engine is a huge leap forward in design, which is amazingly efficient, and I have a feeling it will definitely surpass the current 450 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque estimate during validation testing. Its matching exhaust system boasts a 13-percent airflow improvement, meanwhile a new dual-mode exhaust improves by 37-perecent, in part due to an increase from 2.5 to 2.75-inches in tube diameter.
The real story, though, is the chassis. Remember the C6 Z06 and ZR1 used an aluminum frame? Well, guess what-so will all C7s. The difference-a huge upgrade to the Bowling Green, Kentucky plant will allow them to make the frame in-house. From the base C6 frame, GM says the C7 is 57-percent stiffer and 99-pounds lighter. Just like the Z06 and ZR1, carbon fiber and other exotic materials are used aplenty to keep weight down. The hood and removable roof panel is carbon fiber. The fenders, doors, and quarter panels are composite. And the underbody panels are made of carbon-nano composite. Factor in the all aluminum pushrod engine and transaxle setup, and this adds up to a 50/50 weight distribution.
Meanwhile, thousands of hours in the wind tunnel have helped sculpt the low-drag shape that also promotes high-speed stability. A Z51 Performance Package will be available, which ups the ante on the aero front and adds a number of coolers to make it more track-ready for the brakes, transmission, and differential. The Z51 package also adds an electronic limited slip differential and dry sump oiling.
Surprising to some, the C7 will still utilize a short/long arm suspension design with a transverse-mounted composite spring. However, great strides have been made to stiffen the steering and add overall rigidity that will allow over 1G of in cornering grip. Wheel sizes will still be 18x8.5 front and 19x10 rear for the base Corvette, while the Z51 will have 19x8.5 and 20x10-inch wheels. Brembo brakes will be standard, using 4-piston fixed calipers.
"We believe the Corvette represents the future of modern performance cars because it delivers more power, more driving excitement and better fuel efficiency," said Tadge Juechter, Corvette chief engineer. "The result is better performance by every measure. The 2014 Corvette delivers the fastest acceleration, the most cornering grip, the most track capability, the best braking performance and what we expect to be the best fuel economy ever for a standard Corvette."
||2-door hatchback coupe with removable roof panel, composite and carbon-fiber body panels, hydroformed aluminum frame with aluminum and magnesium structural and chassis components
||LT1 6.2L V-8, 376cid, overhead valve, two valves per cylinder, direct injection, 11.5:1 compression, aluminum block and heads
||450 horsepower, 450 lb-ft of torque (estimated)
||Tremec TR6070 7-speed manual, 6L80E 6-speed automatic
||short/long arm (SLA) double wishbone, cast aluminum upper and lower control arms, transverse-mounted composite spring, monotube shock absorber, Magnetic Selective Ride Control (available with Z51)
||front and rear power-assisted discs with four-piston fixed front and rear calipers, 12.6-inch front (13.6-inch slotted with Z51) and 13.3-inch rear rotors
||18x8.5 front and 19x10 rear (Stingray), 19x8.5 front and 20x10 rear (Z51)
||Michelin Pilot Super Sport run-flat 245/40/18 and 285/35/19 (Stingray), 245/35/19 and 285/30/20 (Z51)
||106.7-inch wheelbase; 177-inches in length, 73.9 in width, and 48.6 in height