Tested: 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Crikey, that’s a big one! _

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray | Shaun Keenan
2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray | Shaun Keenan

In one fell swoop, the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray landed itself at the top of my own 2013 Top 10 list. Not by choice, but by merit.

Maybe it’s because the Viper GTS hasn’t landed in my lap, but I thought for sure the MP4 12C had that locked up and key thrown away. Even the SLS AMG GT didn’t make second fiddle.

That’s heresy. Right?

It turns out the more affordable, road-sucking C7 Stingray did more than impress in Monterey, Calif. this summer. It came of age, and I bore witness.

Compared to baseball cards, chewing gum and beer drinking hats, the Corvette is as American as is gets. Only now it’s a lot more refined. Inside and outside. Through and through.

The seventh-generation’s all-new LT1 engine is a thing of beauty. On paper, and on the road. The lightweight and dulcet 6.2-litre V8 makes 460 horses and 465 torques, while the seven-speed manual transmission and electronic LSD (eLSD) ensure this is the most advanced Corvette to date. Not by a little bit either.

It also happens to be the most fuel efficient Corvette ever. GM says it achieves 30 mpg when cruising in V4 mode where it produces 126 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm. Mercifully, the Eco mode must first be engaged.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray | Shaun Keenan
2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray | Shaun Keenan

I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. And like it or not, it does work. Perhaps too well. Corvette cultists could rise up. All I know is my Crazy Canuck co-driver urged me not to even speak of it. But it’s there. Like a scab. You want to peel it off, but you just know it’s better left to fall off on its own.

This is, after all, the most capable standard Corvette ever. And the optional Z51 performance package fitted to my test car more than makes up for it. This is not the most powerful Corvette ever and there are no doubt more powerful ZR and Z0 models coming down the pipeline, but for now the Z51 is the cat’s ass.

The Z51 kit adds dry sump oil, differential and transmission coolers, high-performance gear ratios, aero parts, unique chassis tuning, the eLSD and Michelin Pilot Super Sport ZP ultra-high performance tires developed exclusively for the Stingray on staggered 19- and 20-inch forged wheels. Michelin has developed two versions of this tire, in fact. One for the standard car. Another for this particular trim.

Equipped thusly, the Stingray can sprint from zero-to-97 km/h (60 mph) in 3.8 seconds. It runs the quarter-mile in 12 seconds at 191.5 km/h (119 mph), and its larger slotted steel brakes (13.6 and 13.3 inch diameters in the front and rear, respectively) with four-piston Brembo calipers and cooling ducts haul the C7 back down from 97 km/h in 326 metres (107 feet).

The optional true dual-mode performance exhaust is said to bump horsepower and torque by five units apiece, improves airflow by 27% and ameliorates sounds quality by closing some valves during V4 mode.

My car is also equipped with GM’s Magnetic Ride Control active-handling system and its accompanying Performance Traction Management (PTM) system, and on this day conditions are ripe to stretch the Vette’s lungs and rubber to “…feel those centrifugal forces,” as one resident put it, to the fullest effect.

I have a race car driver riding shotgun next to me (and will remain anonymous for reasons that will become obvious) and a Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame 2013 inductee right behind me in another a metallic blue Z51. Now, I would be in real trouble if that were the “Mayor of Mosport” in my mirrors, but it is only Jacques Duval (79) playing cat to my mouse. Among other accomplishments in his racing career, Duval won the very first Grand Prix of Trois-Rivières in 1967.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray | Shaun Keenan
2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray | Shaun Keenan

We punch it pretty hard for mile and after twisty and bumpy mile, picking off mouse after slower mouse in the process of tearing up Cienega Road. Deeply-eroded ditches, falling rocks, broken and crowned asphalt, big hills, compressions, loose gravel and giant potholes increase the pucker factor. The Stingrays engorge themselves on the many technical, off-camber, blind and even sketchy corners the route provides before it straightens out and begets more lewd driving behaviour from our wave of drivers…

Continue reading my full review of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray on the IGNITION MAGAZINE website!