Road Test: Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 Coupe 2014
Enough of winter!
It?s time to think about spring and what better way than a 2014 Corvette Z51 Stingray Coupe in Velocity Yellow Tintcoat and a seven-speed rev matching manual transmission.
I?ve been saving this road test since last November because the Farmers? Almanac predicted a hard winter. So if you?re like me, a Stingray is the perfect way to welcome spring.
Now you may ask if it?s possible to drive the new Corvette in winter and the answer is yes.
The Stingray comes with a set of P245/35ZR 19-inch tires at the front and P285/30ZR 20-inchers at the rear. These are definitely summer-only, run flat tires. There is even a way on the driver info screen using colours to see when the tires come up to the temperatures where they start to perform.
A colleague in Michigan?s solution was fitting Pirelli SottoZero Series II snow tires measuring P235/40R19 front and P295/30R20 rear. He used sealant and an inflator kit.
The Stingray as tested here came with optional ($2,095) chrome aluminum wheels. If it was me, I?d buy a set of standard wheels and put the snows on them and keep the chrome ones for summer. And as a precaution, I would probably fit inner tubes on the winter wheels.
And, as a last resort, there?s always GM?s OnStar service.
But let?s get back to spring.
There are two models ? the base Stingray and the Z51. Each model has three trim levels, 1LT, 2Lt and 3LT. The trim pricing range of the base car is $52,745-$61,200 and $56,520-$64,975 on the Z51.
What makes it a Z51 is the $8,455 addition of a ton of extras that include: manual transmission performance gear ratios, electronic limited-slip differential and transmission cooling systems, heavy-duty engine cooling dry-sump oil system, uprated shocks, springs and stabilizer bars, larger front brake rotors with black calipers, slotted brake rotors, Michelin Pilot Super Sport ZP summer-only tires, larger 19×8.50-inch front and 20×10-inch rear five-spoke silver-painted aluminum wheels and the Aero Package that reduces lift for high-speed stability.
The as tested price of the Z51 Stingray Coupe was $74,520 that included a total of $17,900 in options (including the Z51 package) but not the $1,700 shipping fee.
So what do you get for that kind of money?
The quick answer is quite a lot when you compare it to, say, the Porsche 911 S with a seven-speed manual with 55 hp less priced at $112,900.
The 2014 Corvette comes with a 6.2-litre direct injection V8 running on regular fuel (premium recommended) and producing 455 hp and 460 lb/ft of torque. If you bolt on the $1,255 Dual Mode performance exhaust system, it increases power to 460 hp and 465 lb/ft.
Fuel rating is listed at 12.2/6.9L/100 km (23/41 mpg) city/highway but I never even came close to those numbers.
The seven-speed manual is standard with a six-speed automatic optional. I feel sorry for the increasing number of people who will never learn to use a manual and, thus, never know what it?s like to enjoy the exhilaration.
Heightening the experience is the manual?s standard Active Rev Match that gives the engine a little ?blip? of power during shifts that matches the engine and transmission revolutions for smooth engagement along with the aural enjoyment of hearing the Stingray do its thing.
Drive is to the rear wheels where the rear electronic limited slip diff and all the Z51 handling stuff really comes in handy.
If there is any doubt the Stingray was meant for drivers, that stops the moment you slip into the driver?s seat where you are met with a dizzying array of performance interfaces.
Just a few are: main gauge cluster configuration, electronic throttle control, active fuel management, active handling and traction control, launch control, steering feel and Performance Traction Management.
It all begins with the rotary Driver Mode Selector on the centre console. The selector has five modes ? Weather, Eco, Tour, Sport and Track. It can handle up to 12 scenarios with the information instantly shown on the driver?s LCD screen.
For instance, you can set the exhaust for Eco, Tour, Sport or Track depending on your inclination.
If you have the Z51 and optional ($1,855) Magnetic Select Ride Control like the Stingray tested here, you can use the selection to further set up torque and brakes for five different track settings.
As noted above, I actually drove this car last November.
It was part of testing for the Canadian Automotive Jury Best of the Best award. The Jury is composed of 12 journalists, with combined media experience of 285 years and all professionals who test the cars for a full week not 20 minutes or so.
The Stingray has so much going for it, but perhaps, the best part is startup when all those 455 horses bellow into life with a low rumble best heard inside a garage to amplify the effect.
Go into reverse and you pull down and all the way to the right where you can feel there are big gears at the other end of the shifter.
In first you don?t need a lot of throttle to get moving, but too little can cause the engine to stumble while it?s still cold. After a while, the right amount of push with the right foot and let up with the left foot comes naturally.
You can watch the huge tach in the LCD screen, but the sound of the engine and exhaust tells you all you need to know.
With temperatures starting to hit single digits, I had to watch the tires which took up to 30 minutes to go from blue on the LCD screen to orange which is just passable for good performance.
On the penultimate driving day the GM Canada PR man called to say it was just getting too cold and it was time to return it.
But that was fall and this is spring and the Stingray Convertibles are in the showrooms and I just happen to have the PR guy?s number handy.
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Coupe 2014 at a glance
BODY STYLE: Performance two-door hatchback coupe
DRIVE METHOD: Rear-wheel-drive
ENGINE: 6.2-litre direct injection V8 (455 hp, 460 lb/ft of torque); as tested with optional Dual Mode Performance Exhaust System (460 hp, 465 lb/ft of torque)
FUEL ECONOMY: (Regular) 12.2/6.9L/100km (city/hwy).
CARGO: 425 litres (15 cu ft)
PRICE: $56,520. As tested, $74,520 with $17,900 in options not including $1,700 shipping fee
WEB SITE: www.chevrolet.gm.ca