What is it?
The new C7-generation Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, driven in the UK for the first time. In these chaste times, the big US guns have stuck to their heavy artillery, so much so that the ‘entry-level’ Stingray has a 6.2-litre V8 with 455bhp and 460lb ft. Isn’t that great? With performance to rival the Jaguar F-type and Porsche 911, the new Vette comfortably undercuts both, prices starting at £61,495.
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The GM LT1 motor is immense. You might expect it to be deep-chested and luxurious but lacking in bite, but instead it’s sharp and angry with terrific throttle response and a ferocity that sets your heart thumping by the time the V8 hammers into the limiter. The noise is great too, not manufactured in the way an F-type or a 911 with the sports exhaust can sometimes feel; just honest, scowling power spitting out in great sharp licks. The four tailpipes might be in dubious taste but the delivery is pure class. Top speed is 190mph, while a 3.8sec 0-60 time is almost Ferrari FF quick.
What’s it like to drive?
This is a supple car, even with the standard-in-Europe Z51 package of larger wheels (19in front, 20in rear), firmer suspension, an electronically controlled LSD, dry-sump lubrication, shorter gear ratios and larger brakes. Furthermore, the steering is responsive, accurate and provides real confidence, although the Corvette hasn’t resisted the trend for highly configurable chassis/drivetrain settings. Rotate a little dial on the transmission tunnel to scroll through Weather, Eco, Tour, Sport and Track, and the steering weight, stability control, throttle response and magnetic suspension ramp up with each click. Even on knobbly Welsh roads I find myself in Sport or Track. The latter has slightly too much steering weight but you can mix and match if you delve into the menus. Tour and below take all the tension out of the Stingray, so ignore them.
Locked in Track, with the stability control off and precision-robbing but grippy winter tyres cutting through the spray, it’s impressive. The seven-speed manual gearbox is hefty but satisfying (save for the annoying habit of shifting from fourth straight to seventh), the ride is well controlled and the balance is brilliantly transparent – the Vette either oversteers a little or a lot. You can ride the line just before it gets too wild and revel in its predictable nature to your heart’s content. But the best thing is that the C7 feels more compact, better tied down and just keener to respond cleanly to the road surface and the driver’s inputs than its predecessors. It’s not a hyper-alert car like an F-type, but the calmness of the steering and chassis is appealing.
Go really hard and the body control starts to fray at the edges: the body floats a little as the dampers jiggle, which knocks your confidence. Then the car bottoms out with a crack and you have to slow down. The brake pedal is inconsistent and by the end of a day of filming, the stoppers were howling in protest (although other mags had used and abused this car before us). In combination these things start to make the Stingray feel a bit heavier than it really is (1496kg).
How does it compare?
A 991-generation Porsche 911 Carrera S is on another planet in ultimate composure, and a Jaguar F-type V6 S slightly sharper and more intense, but the Stingray is thoroughly enjoyable. Will it sell in Britain? Hardly at all. But we’re glad it’s here and we look forward to trying it on summer tyres with rivals in tow.
Anything else I need to know?
Inside – despite all the stuff I’ve read in US reviews – the Vette is still plainly not from round these parts. The seats look great, the TFT central rev counter is cool and the feeling of snug support is appealing, but the overall vibe is more Walmart than Waitrose. It’s not an interior that quite fits the UK price.
|Max power||455bhp @ 6000rpm|
|Max torque||460lb ft @ 4600rpm|
|Top speed||190mph (claimed)|