Stingray Convertible is a world-beater

By Silvio Calabi
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Posted Nov. 3, 2014 @ 8:27 am

This is the softtop version of the new C7, the seventh generation of Chevrolet’s Corvette since the car was born in 1953. Every remake of the ’Vette creates a stir, partly because they arrive so infrequently and partly because of anxiety over how “America’s sport car” will measure up against the rest of the world. Corvette fans cheer its tremendous performance-per-dollar value, while Euro-snobs sneer at its lack of refinement and call it the Plastic Fantastic. (Most Corvette body panels are made of a high-tech resin composite.) In some ways, the Corvette gets more respect overseas — there, it’s an exotic import — than at home, where even General Motors admits it’s the “old man’s sports car.” Baby boom males buy them because a friend of our older brother had one in the ‘60s and we never got over it.

The C7, aka the Stingray, is supposed to appeal to younger, hipper drivers, as some of GM’s new Cadillacs and Buicks now do. It’s too soon to say whether buyer age will dip, but it should—this Corvette is a huge step up from the C6. It is more powerful, agile and faster than ever, but easier to drive and more civilized and sophisticated in every way. The interior no longer looks like an early-‘80s bachelor pad, nothing rattles, the ride is smooth and this fat-tired, 460-horsepower supercoupe managed almost 30 miles per gallon on the highway.

Our Stingray’s new eight-speed automatic transmission, a $1,750 option, gets some of the credit (or blame) for this particular car’s civility (or docility). Mash the throttle and the slushbox will fire off proper shifts by itself, but in manual mode the paddles on the steering wheel stick slightly and the gear changes could be crisper. (The C7’s standard transmission is a seven-speed manual with dual clutch disks and automatic rev-syncing.) The 6.2-liter LT1 engine seamlessly shuts down half of the cylinders when it’s loafing. At 80 mph on level terrain, the V-8 is turning just 1,650 rpm and operating as a 3.1-liter V-4 — hence the astonishing fuel efficiency. At the car’s top speed of 178 mph, that would likely drop to six or eight MPG.

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