DRIVEN: 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray on the Track – Road Test Review

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Ostensibly, I started TickTickVroom out of a deep appreciation for cars and watches.  But, while I may not have realized the truth of this statement at the outset, my true motivation for creating this site probably was to drive the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray… and to write this post.  I guess I should explain.

 

Yes, I know there are faster, more powerful cars out there.  But, none of them are so profoundly rooted in my childhood as the Corvette Stingray.  Corvettes run in my blood.  In 1986, when I was three years old, my dad bought a 1974 Corvette Stingray in Medium Blue Metallic with black interior, a four-speed manual gearbox with a Hurst shift kit and a 350 cubic inch ZQ3 V8 with 195 horse and 275 pound-feet of torque.

 

To a young kid (yep, I’m talking about me), that ’74 ‘Vette was the coolest, fastest car in the world. Getting on the freeway with the T-tops off, it felt like we were driving about a million miles-per-hour.  When my dad was driving and I riding shotgun, no one could touch us.  In the mind of that little kid (me again) there were no such things as Ferraris.  No Lamborghinis.  No Porsche.  The only car that mattered was a shiny blue Chevrolet Corvette.  It.  Was.  Awesome.

1974 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Then came the day when my parents traded in our 1974 Corvette Stingray.  The impending arrival of my little brother meant we needed a practical car with more doors and more seats.  That car was a red 1987 Chevrolet Cavalier station wagon.  (Sad, I know.)  While the Corvette may have no longer held pride-of-place in our driveway, that doesn’t mean we traded away our love of Chevy’s finest small-block V8 sports car.

 

From that day forward, my dad, my mom and I (and eventually my brother, once he learned to talk) proudly shouted “CORVETTE ALERT” whenever we saw one.  Street.  Dealership.  Driveway.  It didn’t matter.  Every Chevrolet Corvette (even the C4s from the ’80s) was worth pointing out, and we did so eagerly.  To this day, I still notice every single Corvette that passes by.  I probably always will.

 

Fast-forward twenty-six years.  Chevrolet has just released what is probably the best, most technologically advanced car they have ever created in the 2014 Corvette Stingray.  And, I have the opportunity to make the 70-mile drive from Fort Lauderdale up to the Palm Beach International Raceway (PBIR) in Jupiter, Florida to experience all the new Stingray has to offer in the glorious setting of a racetrack.  What can I say?  Sometimes I’m lucky.  This was literally a childhood dream come true.

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The Stingray Precision Drive track-day at PBIR is essentially a hard-core test-drive of the new Corvette on three different track set-ups: PBIR’s 2.03-mile road course track, a slalom run and a 0.8-mile technical course with 11 tight turns on what is basically a go-kart track.  Good gravy.  It just kept getting better and better.

 

Eager to grab my helmet and go destroy someone else’s tires, I was diverted from my beeline toward the awaiting ‘Vettes to a mobile classroom for some drive theory.  Humbug!  Thinking “Yes, yes, I know.  Turn the wheel when the road gets twisty and don’t run into the giant concrete wall.  I get it.  Let’s drive now,” I was rather taken aback and surprised (in a good way) when I found that the high-performance driving instructor wasn’t just a Chevy product specialist with a PowerPoint, but an actual race-car driver with probably the greatest pedigree one could ask for…

 

He was an Andretti.  Yeah, those Andrettis… Adam Andretti to be precise.  Nephew to Mario.  Cousin of Michael.  And, brother of John.  Lo and behold, he was an amazing teacher.  I learned more about driving really, really fast in that 30 minute classroom session than I have in my previous 30 years of life, despite the fact that I was a wee bit distracted by the track right outside the classroom’s windows.  By the end, I was quite ready to go drive.

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I tried to look cool as I struggled not to sprint and giggle all the way to the 2014 Corvette Stingrays waiting ever so patiently in the pit lane.  I managed to not sprint or giggle, but just barely.  Trust me, that was quite a feat.  Looking down the line, I saw a handful of Corvette Stingrays ready to rumble.  Actually, they were running, so there was quite a bit of rumble emanating from the cars already.

 

Like I said, there were three different courses set up, and I was eagerly ready to tackle all of them.  First up was PBIR’s 2.03-mile road course, complete with a long swooping hairpin and 0.6-mile back straight.  After donning my helmet, I was offered my choice of Stingrays.  Being remarkably curious as to whether the six-speed, paddle shifting automatic gearbox was any good, I opted for an auto with the Z51 Performance Package and upgraded exhaust in Laguna Blue Tintcoat (obviously).

 

Oh man, what a gorgeous car, almost a reincarnation of the our old C3.  Walking up to it (again, fighting my urge to sprint and giggle), there was something about the car that felt immediately familiar.  It may be an all-new Corvette.  It may have cutting edge technology.  It may have the most powerful standard engine ever put into a Corvette.  And, it may share about as much in common with our old 1974 Corvette Stingray as an actual ocean-living Stingray.  But, the 2014 C7 still feels like a Corvette.  There is this aura of rebellion around the car.  It still has the impression of a kid from Detroit chomping at the bit to take on the top dogs from Italy and Germany.  Which it can and does.

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For the past few models, the Corvette has had nearly peerless performance.  But, when it came to interior fit and finish, it left much to be desired, especially when compared to its European rivals.  Not anymore.  Inside the Stingray’s cabin, everything is made from premium materials.  If it looks like aluminum, Alacantara, leather or carbon fiber; it is aluminum, Alcantara, leather or carbon fiber.  As I ducked into the driver’s seat (which is made by Poltrona Frau, Ferrari’s seatmaker of choice) I found it amazingly easy to find the correct driving position.

 

After settling in and setting the Drive Mode Selector from the default Touring to Track, I set-off.  The first lap was a relatively slow go-round to learn the track.  There were eleven turns and a 0.6-mile straightaway waiting for me.  For the next three laps around Palm Beach International Raceway’s road course, I pushed the 2014 Corvette Stingray as hard as I could.  And, let me tell you, that car has way more to offer than I have skill or chutzpah to give.

 

From the get-go the 460 horse and 465 pound-foot 6.2 liter LT1 V8 from my Z51 Performance Package equipped Stingray pulls hard, like really really hard.  I have no trouble believing the 3.8 second 0-60 time.  The first part of the track was a series of relatively tight right- and left-handers that tested the Stingray’s suspension and steering.  In the turns, the car felt incredibly planted.  The electronic power-assist steering was quick and precise with a good amount of feedback from the road.  Just point the car where you want it to go and, presto, you’re there.

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With each lap, I was able to put on more and more speed until I began to feel a bit of understeer peeking through.  The old C6 Corvette was a quite tail-happy, especially over bumps or if you were foolish enough to hit the go-pedal too hard in a turn.  While the C7 Corvette Stingray maintains just enough understeer to be fun (A LOT of fun), it’s immediately correctable with just a dab of oppo and a little power.  In the twisties, the C7 is light-years better than its predecessor.

 

After a right-left-right chicane, I found myself entering a hard right-hand turn onto the 0.6 mile back straightaway.  Because the 2014 Corvette was so capable in the turns, I found myself carrying a fair amount of speed onto the straight.  (I apologize for the following statement and its inherent corniness.)  It’s hammer time!

 

I would write what I said when I pushed the throttle all the way to the floor, but this is a family blog.  So, instead, I’ll say… HOLY GUACAMOLE!  Once I hit the straight, the Corvette turned from nimble track-car to an all out quarter-mile muscle car.  Every up-shift from the right paddle shifter was lightning quick and laser precise.  And, the power never let up.  Shift after shift, I found more power and more speed.

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By the time I hit the braking point at the end of the straight half-a-mile later, I was going well over 130 mph.  I don’t know exactly how fast I was going, because, despite the fact that the Corvette Stingray has a pretty good Heads-Up Display (HUD), I stopped looking at it somewhere around 125 mph.

 

Those 130+ mph bled off very quickly, which was good because I was entering the long hair-pin.  Each lap, every time I hit the Z51 Performance Package’s upgraded vented brakes, it was like throwing out an anchor.  No fade, just stopping.  By my final lap, I was braking later in the corners than I ever thought possible with a Corvette.  I was and am very impressed.

 

OK, so on PBIR’s road course, the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray goes like the dickens, stops like it’s hitting a wall and handles like its on rails.  Good, but what about the slalom.  Chevy says the Stingray will hit 1.03 gs of lateral acceleration in turns and just shy of 73 mph in a slalom.  That sounds about right.

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But the speed at which I could wiggle the Stingray through a few cones wasn’t the most impressive bit.  It was the difference the different driving modes made on how the car handled and felt.  When you turn the ignition on a 2014 Corvette, it starts up in the default mode of Touring.  That is a very apt name, as when in Touring Mode, the steering is light and the ride is smooth.  I would have no qualms about driving down a crappy section Highway 80 in New Jersey for a few hours in Touring Mode.  The Corvette will still handle quite well, but it’s just easier.  Sport is a bit firmer and is ideal for the occasional spirited off-ramp.  And, track… Well, track is for all out craziness.

 

I ended my day on PBIR’s 11-turn, 3-straight, 0.8 mile go-kart track.  Yeah, a real-life road car on an actual go-kart track.  This gave me ideal opportunity to test the Corvette Stingray on a very technical, very squiggly course.  Let me tell you, that was where the seven-speed manual transmission with Active Rev Matching really shone.

 

With a course that short and with that many tight turns, I was down-shifting rather frequently.  Each time I dropped from fourth to second, the throttle blipped and matched the engine’s RPMs to the car’s speed.  From an outside observer’s point of view, I sounded like I actually knew what I was doing.  Downshift.  Brake.  Turn in.  Floor it.  All awesome.

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So at the end of the day, I was, needless to say, very impressed by the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. There is the raw power and anger that one would expect from an American muscle car.  There is the precision of handling and directness of steering that one would expect from the best Europe has to offer.  And, finally, there is an interior that is befitting a $60,000 car.  The 2014 Corvette Stingray is half beast, half beauty and all fun.

 

All of this awesomeness comes in a rather frugal package, too.  The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray starts at a relatively low $51,995 for the base 1LT ($54,795 with the Z51 Performance Package).  If you tick every singe option box, you’ll top out at $87,075, $11,825 less than the option-less $98,900 entry price of a 2014 Porsche Carrera S.  There is no doubt in my mind that the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is the best performance car value.  Hell, there is no doubt in my mind that the Stingray is one of the best, most usable performance cars, period.

 

I was never able to drive our 1974 Corvette Stingray.  It was sold about a decade before I learned to drive.  But, I remember the smile my dad had every time he turned the key.  Something tells me I had the same kind of smile driving the modern incarnation of my childhood dream car.  Hopefully, one day, I’ll be able to buy my dad a replacement for his 1974 Corvette Stingray (or at least get him one to drive for a few days).  And, I can think of no better model than the exactly-40-year-newer, great-great-grandchild of our old car, a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray in Laguna Blue Tintcoat and Jet Black interior…

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2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Details

So, now that you know what it’s like behind the wheel of the 2014 Corvette Stingray, here’s a little info on the car.

 

The C7 Corvette is an almost entirely new car.  There are only two carry-over parts from the C6 to the C7: the latch for the targa top and the cabin air filter.  That’s it.  Every other part and piece is new for the Stingray.  Don’t worry it’s still a Corvette, but Chevy only held on to the bits worth keeping.

 

For example, just like all Corvettes before it, the 2014 Stingray has a front engine, rear-wheel-drive set-up.  However, unlike most Corvettes before it, the 2014 shuns the too-heavy steel frame, opting instead for über lightweight aluminum.  The new chassis is 57 percent stiffer and just under 100 pounds lighter than that of the C6 ‘Vette.   Combine that weight savings with an even lighter body made of carbon fiber and feather-like composites and you get an ultra-stiff car with a svelte curb weight of only 3,298 pounds.

 

Every car made available at Palm Beach International Raceway was the best Chevrolet had to offer.  In addition to the all-new aluminum 6.2 liter LT1 V8 with variable valve timing, each 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray on-hand was fitted with the upgraded performance exhaust and the $2,800 Z51 Performance Package, which meant a whole slew of performance upgrades resulting in world-class performance.

 

Adding the performance exhaust and Z51 Performance Package basically turns your “average” 2014 Corvette Stingray (which has 455 horse / 460 pound-feet) into a bona-fide track car.  Trust me, it’s worth it.  A 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 has a 0-60 time of 3.8 seconds; a top speed of (an incredible) 195 miles-per-hour; 1.03 gs of lateral acceleration; braking from 60 mph to 0 in 107 feet thanks to huge, vented Brembo brakes; and a powerplant producing 460 horse and 465 pound-feet of torque.

 

Harnessing all 460 horses and corralling them to the rear wheels is a buyer’s choice of a seven-speed manual transmission (Tremec TR6070) with Active Rev Matching or a a six-speed automatic (Hydra-Matic 6L80) with paddle shifters.   Long gone are the days of the glacially slow 3-Speed Automatic Turbo Hydra-Matic.

 

The suspension is upgraded, too, with standard Corvettes sporting 35-millimeter piston Bilstein monotube shocks and Corvette Z51’s getting upgraded 45-mm dampers.  Optional is GM’s third-gen Magnetic Ride Control which is 40-percent quicker than the last generation.  Basically, the Stingray should be able to handle just about anything a road can throw at it.

 

For the sake completeness, below are the full specs on the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and the Z51 Performance Package.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Technical Specifications:

Performance:

  • 0-60: 3.8 seconds
  • Quarter-Mile: 12 seconds at 119 mph
  • Top Speed: 195 mph
  • Braking from 60-0 mph: 107 feet
  • Lateral Acceleration: 1.03 gs

Fuel Economy:

  • 17 mpg City and 29 mpg Highway (in Touring ModeEco Mode is more efficient)
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 18.5 gallons

Specifications:

  • Powertrain: 6.2L V8 with Direct Injection
  • Drivetrain: Rear Wheel Drive
  • Displacement (liters/cu. in.): 6.2 liter / 376 cubic inch
  • Transmission: 7-speed manual or 6-speed Paddle Shift automatic
  • Standard Horsepower: 455 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Horsepower with Performance Exhaust: 460 hp
  • Standard Torque: 460 pound-feet @ 4600 rpm
  • Torque with Performance Exhaust: 465 pound-feet
  • Axle Ratio: 3.42
  • Front Suspension: Short/Long Arm
  • Rear Suspension: Short/Long Arm
  • Standard Front Brakes: 12.6 inch Disc
  • Standard Rear Brakes: 13.3 inch Disc
  • Brake/ABS System: 4-Wheel

Dimensions

  • Base Curb Weight: 3298 lbs
  • Trunk Volume: 15.0 ft3
  • Height, Overall: 48.80 in
  • Length, Overall: 176.90 in
  • Track Width, Front: 63.00 in
  • Track Width, Rear: 61.70 in
  • Wheelbase: 106.70 in
  • Width, Max w/o Mirrors: 73.90 in
  • Front Head Room: 37.90 in
  • Front Hip Room: 53.70 in
  • Front Leg Room: 43.00 in
  • Front Shoulder Room: 55.20 in
  • Passenger Capacity: 2

Z51 Performance Package ($2,800):

  • 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels
  • Dry sump oil system
  • Electronic Limited Slip Differential
  • 13.6 inch front brakes with black calipers
  • Slotted brake rotors, front and back
  • Upgraded shocks, springs and stabilizer bars
  • Differential and transmission cooling
  • Aero Package that reduces lift for high-speed stability
  • Michelin Pilot Super Sport ZP summer tires
  • Available Magnetic Selective Ride Control and Performance Traction Management
  • HD Cooling
  • Performance Gear Ratios
  • Available performance exhaust (which increase horsepower and torque from 455/460 to 460/465)

 

Author: Nick Glasnovich

Founder & Executive Editor of TickTickVroom.com.

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