the hofmeister kink

Corvette Stingray

A month ago I was given a 2014 Corvette Stingray to play with for a week. It came at the perfect time as my CTS V was in the shop for some transmission trouble. Before I start this review I want to state that while I am an employee of GM, I will do my best to make this review as non-biased as possible.

I'll admit that growing up I was never fond of the Corvette. I prefered the idea of a small car with good handling over brute force American muscle. But despite this, I wasn't going to turn down the opportunity to drive a car with 460 HP.

The Corvette Stingray I was given was a 2LT with the Z51 Performance Pack carrying a sticker price of $64,000. The 2LT comes with a lot of toys as standard. Keyless entry, remote start, Bluetooth, navigation, and heated seats being a couple of my favorites.

For those who haven't driven a Stingray, the first thing you notice standing next to it is just how low and wide it is. Once seated in the car you have a very unique view over the hood which seems to go on for miles. While I've never been in one, you get a sense sitting in the Vette that you're flying a fighter jet.

Driving a Corvette is nothing like driving a sedan. The view over the hood, combined with the deep exhaust constantly remind you that you're in something special. There's a real sense of drama added to driving when you're behind the wheel. When you're moving along at low speeds the exhaust has a very blue collar almost truck like V8 burble to it. But when you really lay into it the engine absolutely screams. And like Corvettes of old, the Stingray has active exhausts. This means that at low speed valves will close and reduce the drone most performance exahausts have.

Driving in traffic is difficult at first as the rear blind spots are quite massive. But let's be honest, most 2 seater sports cars have pretty massive blind spots. Currently you can get a Stingray in either Targa or Convertible form. While I can't speak for the convertible, the Targa has a massive almost hatchback like amount of room in the back.

Another big surprise was the gas mileage the Stingray could achieve. The V8 engine has the ability to turn off half of the cylinders to become a 4 cylinder when you are cruising at a constant speed. When the switch happens you get a little burp from the exhaust but otherwise the transition is almost seamless.

While I had the Corvette I took a trip to Chicago for the day to see how the car was on a long trip. Overall it wasn't as compromising as I was expecting. The ambient noise in the cabin was pretty loud due to the large station wagon like space behind you. Apart from that the seats were very supportive and the ride was not too harsh. Combined with the good fuel consuption and big boot and you have a great GT car.

During the trip I was able to really get to know the infotainment setup in the Vette which consist of a large display for an instrument cluster as well a display in the center stack. Like most modern cars, I found the user interface of the infotainment to be quite terrible. While the buttons were very easy to reach, the layout was not well done. Frankly, I have not come across a modern infotainment system that is as good as it should be.

But let's be honest, no one buys a Corvette because they are looking for superior interior technology. You buy a Corvette because you want to go fast, and boy does this deliver. I should start out by saying that my week with the car was not ideal as far as performance and grip goes. The Vette given to me was fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport 2s, like my V, which are frankly terrible in the cold temperatures. Plus the rear rubber was a little worn. Combine the two and you get a lot of wheel spin. This is the first car I've driven where full throttle is almost impossible. If you're looking for a car to scary the shit out of you then look no further. And let's not forget that this car is a base model with 450 HP. The Z06 variant which is starting to hit the showrooms has 625 HP.

As far the handling goes I was not nearly as impressed as I was with the 996 Turbo I drove earlier in the year (see previous post). I'm sure in the warm weather with fresh tires I would have had much more confidence with the handling.

One area where I really disliked the Corvette was in the transmission choice. The 2014 model comes with either a 7 speed manual with rev match assist or a 6 speed auto, I had the latter. For 2015 the 6 speed auto will be replaced with an 8 speed auto which I'm told is far superior to the 6 speed. Regardless, I emplore you to get the 7 speed manual as it is a terrific transmission. The auto was just too slow and made it very difficult to get the power down smoothly.

To summarize, equipped with a proper gearbox, the new Stingray is a very impressive car. I would highly recommend checking one out if you're in the market for a fast sports car/GT car.

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