We’ve finally got our hands on the new Chevrolet Corvette C7 at home in the Middle East. So, is it any good then?[Not a valid template]
Rewind six months. I’m processing my thoughts about the new Chevrolet Corvette following the international launch event near Washington DC. And I’m frustrated. Despite spending several hours in the car, on roads that initially looked fantastic, they turned out to be full of blind crests and turns, as well as farm machinery, which meant I couldn’t really lean hard on the latest version of an iconic American sports car. It was a long way to fly for a mere flavour.
But back to now. The seventh generation of Corvette is finally in the Middle East, and I can now get my hands on it properly.
The history of the Corvette is something of a rollercoaster. They’ve always been popular cars, but my first experience of one in person, a C6 in the mid-2000s, left me reeling at the terrible interior quality compared to European and Japanese cars, and a general lack of sophistication for which the imposing, brawny looks couldn’t compensate. Still, there was a certain allure for a young man raised on a diet of European cars and American television. Those looks screamed action, and that engine… well, let’s just say that America does V8s like no other. And there’s another big plus point – the price. Compared to the cream of European sports cars, the Corvette is a bargain.
So, will the new C7 fix the issues without compromising the previous cars’ charms? The early signs, as I found last year, are more than promising. While the front bears slightly too much of a resemblance to the Ferrari California for my liking, the profile and the rear are pure American muscle, with a horn section of four flared tailpipes ready to blow a fanfare. Overkill? Perhaps, but there’s no mistaking what this is.
This particular car has already been around a few members of the local press, who have clearly treated it with their usual care – the nearside alloys are kerbed and someone has clearly left the removable carbon fibre roof panel upside down on gravel and scratched the life out of it. That’s pretty unforgivable – if you’ve invested the effort into unclipping the roof from inside the cabin, and then hoiked it out, then you could at least store it in its rightful place under the tailgate.
Thankfully the interior has thus far remained unsullied by the ham-fisted efforts of the peninsula’s less respectful scribblers, and is a vastly improved place compared to the C6. Gone are the squidgy plastic panels and horrible switchgear, replaced by swathes of brown leather, a carbon fibre dash surround and a fine-looking eight-inch touchscreen in the centre. Everything screams driver focus – the controls are all tilted towards the driver, who is cocooned from the passenger by the design of the dash. The guy on the right gets his own controls by the door to control his temperature and cooled seat – everything in the middle belongs to the chap on the left.
I’m not a particularly short man, but I still wish the seats adjusted lower – its not a handicap, but my eyes are level with the top of the windscreen, looking down over the long bonnet. A few weeks earlier I drove a Caterham, and the Corvette has a similar feeling of being sat right at the back of the car, over the rear wheels.
While the seats are too high, they are comfortable, and surprisingly tight for an American car – those of a more generous physique may struggle to fully sink into their embrace. But once you’re in, you’re held in place.