Auto Review: The Stingray’s welcome return

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Dec. 5, 2013
Contributed
- Contributed Photo

This week’s review vehicle is one of the lasting American icons that is known and loved world-wide, and when you mention the Chevy Corvette, it seems just about everybody has their favorite year and model.  The original Sting Ray version appeared way back in 1963, and was a truly groundbreaking car in styling, technical design execution and performance. The last version of the ‘Ray was way back in the mid-’70s (called the Stingray instead of Sting Ray), and many thought the name should be retired until a truly special Corvette could carry it with the kind of aura found in the original. To say the new model has been eagerly anticipated (a concept was launched about five years ago that provided a peek) is an understatement. With the Stingray returning to the market, not only has there been expectation, but great trepidation as well, for fans have been concerned that it might be just another marketing exercise.

If our time with the car and the attention it received from countless admirers are any indication, the new Stingray is the real deal. Built on a lithe aluminum frame and sporting a stylish aerodynamic body composed of the latest composites, this formidable rear-drive sports machine has excellence expressed in every technical and aesthetic detail. The engine is a beautifully rendered 6.2-liter V8, and at 455 horsepower (460 with the optional Performance Exhaust) it’s the most powerful standard Corvette in history. Transmissions include a seven-speed manual or the gearbox on our test car; a six-speed automatic. Acceleration is what you’d expect with all those ponies under the hood and a curb weight of around 3,300 pounds: 60 mph arrived in around 4 seconds.

We had the optional Z51 Performance Package that enhances everything from braking to suspension response to cooling, and a Driving mode selector includes Touring, Weather, Eco, Sport and Track settings. Twelve performance parameters are adjusted when you change settings with a rotary knob near the shifter, and tailor the car’s response to the driving conditions (and your own personal preferences). The car handles like an extension of your arms, and steering feedback is excellent, regardless of the drive mode selected. As you would expect, braking performance is exemplary and helped by the top-shelf run-flat performance tires.

Climbing into the Stingray is an exercise in flexibility, but once you and your passenger are seated, support and comfort tie you to the chassis and the driving experience. The cabin is cozy but satisfying, and the driver’s instrument pod is comprehensive, and the flat-screen instrument cluster alters depending on the drive mode selected. A heads-up display is also present and alterable depending what information you’d like displayed (including none at all, if you desire). The only thing missing was a back-up camera, but the car usually has plenty of enthusiasts examining it in the parking lot that can sing out if you’re about to back into a poodle.

The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 is EPA rated 16 MPG city/28 highway and has a base price of $53,800. With options, our sticker came to 68,530. www.chevy.com.


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