Corvette Stingray C7. A new generation

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We’re on the hunt for photo locations, heading out into the desert and then the mountains where we know there will also be fun roads to test the Corvette. Tradition holds that Chevrolets powered by big V8s excel only in straight lines, but recent forays with the Camaro and my limited experience of the Corvette in the US suggests to me that there’s more to the C7 than that.

To begin with though, there’s a long cruise along the freeways, and a chance to get used to the surroundings. The Corvette has all the modern toys one would expect, and the Bluetooth phone connectivity gets an early workout as the kilometres pass by, as does the cruise control. So far, so user friendly. I particularly like the head-up display projecting information onto the windscreen, which by default shows just the speed, but a flick of a toggle to the left of the wheel flicks between different options. I find a rather splendid option that shows speed, a colour rev counter and a G-meter, and make a mental note to test that out later.

Under the Corvette’s bonnet is a 6.2-litre V8 that pushes 455bhp to the rear wheels. Not bad for an entry-level car – a Z06 model with 625bhp has just been announced, which will satisfy those craving super power, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see further mentalist versions arrive after that. Still, in the regular car 0-100kph takes 3.8 seconds, which is a fast in anyone’s book.

Our test car is the top-of-the-line model with the optional Z51 Performance Package fitted, which adds larger alloy wheels (20s at the rear, 19s at the front), a tweaked aero package for better stability and sticker Michelin Pilot Super Sport ZP tyres.

It’s not just a visual upgrade though  – there’s also an electronic limited-slip differential, larger brakes, a dry sump oil system for better performance while thrashing around and magnetic dampers. This all fits into the available set ups of the car, controlled via a twisty dial next to the gearstick – choose between Eco, Touring, Sport or Track, as well as a Weather setting that is unlikely to see much use here in the Middle East. In the centre of the dial is the traction control button. Unlike in a lot of modern cars, one stab of this and off means off, leaving you to slide around to your heart’s content.

Not yet though. At general cruising speed the cockpit is relatively quiet, but squeeze the throttle and those trumpets at the back rasp out a booming overture. Mid-range acceleration is pretty blistering, with bags of torque that wafts the Corvette forward smoothly but with firm insistence. Once you’re off the throttle, there’s some clever fuel saving technology that shuts down half the cylinders, indicated by a V4 display on the dashboard. It’s not exciting, but the Corvette drinks through gas pretty rapidly, so on a practical level it’s useful to be able to extend the car’s range when not pushing.

We head out of the city and into the countryside, where desert meets mountain, and turn off the highway. After parking it up among some trees so that photographer James can get some pictures, it’s time to hit the twisties and really see what the new Corvette can do. Any old American machine can impress in a straight line, but I’ve had a suspicion that the C7 is more capable.

I was right. The squiggling map on the satellite navigation shows myriad twists and turns, but the Corvette, far from being a lumbering mess, is sharp and direct. The nose is the C7’s most impressive attribute, diving into corners superbly with barely any roll from the body. It’s immaculately composed at all times, nimble and sharp, and the steering is a world away from the gloopy, feel-less systems of old. This is full of feedback and nicely weighted, which means a great connection to that razor-sharp front end.

That’s not to say the back is feisty though. Big wide tyres glue the rear to the road as I attack the bends, squeezing on the brakes hard. The pedal is progressive enough to brake into the corners with no stability worries, and the level of grip from the Michelins is prodigious; I keep an eye on the G-meter and register 0.85 with very little effort and not even a squeak from the tyres. I’m no engineer, but Chevrolet’s decision to stick with the Corvette’s traditional transverse leaf spring suspension set up doesn’t, on this evidence, seem to have adversely affected the way in handles – indeed, it’s a really nicely judged set up that matches stable cornering with impressive damping over bumps.

With the electronic diff working its magic, the Corvette can change direction beautifully. It’s entirely possible to hustle with considerable vigour through these bumps and not worry about unexpected loss of traction – bumps through the corners are soaked up with ease, and the back only starts to break grip if I provoke it hard with the throttle. I refrain from doing that too much though, as the narrow mountain road is lined on both sides by solid-looking concrete barriers. It’s more than satisfying enough to bang into a corner hard on the brakes, clicking down the gearbox using the paddles, guide the nose into the apex and get hard onto the throttle, revelling in how quickly it hooks up and begins the fanfare anew. The only slight fly in the ointment comes from the paddles themselves – the gearbox is fine, but the paddles feel more like buttons and could use better haptic feedback to give more involvement.

Nevertheless, I finish the mountain run exhilarated. The new Corvette is excellent – there’s no other reasonable to conclusion at which to arrive. It makes huge strides in all the areas where the previous model lacked, particularly interior quality and handling, but retains that all-American brute strength, power and charisma. At $74,870 for this Z51-equipped model, it’s a hell of a lot of car for the money, and as sales have already shown, it’s destined to be a big hit. The prospect of the big power, even more focused models that will be forthcoming is mouth watering.

Check out the video of the Corvette Stingray C7 HERE – CLICK –

Corvette Stingray C7 WALLPAPERS HERE – CLICK –

Chevrolet Corvette (Z51)
Engine: V8, 6162cc
Power: 455bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque: 460lb ft @ 4600rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive, electronic limited-slip diff, ESP
Front suspension: Double wishbones, transverse leaf spring, adaptive dampers
Rear suspension: Double wishbones, transverse leaf spring, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar
Brakes: Vented discs, 345mm front, 338mm rear
Wheels: 8.5 x 19in front, 10 x 20in rear
Tyres: Tyres: 245/35 R19 front, 285/30 R20 rear, Michelin Pilot Super Sport ZP
Weight (kerb) 1499kg
0-100kph: 3.8sec
Top speed: 305kph

Categories: Editor’s Picks,Road


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