New Vette gets classic name and more power
Stingray's look culled from 300 design proposals
Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter's mission was formidable: The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette, which was scheduled to be unveiled Sunday, Jan. 13, just before the Detroit auto show, had to perform better than any Vette that came before it, be more comfortable than the car it replaces and help General Motors meet ever-tightening fuel economy regulations.
Juechter could not get by with a mere makeover of the sixth-generation car, which has been produced since the 2005 model year and is based heavily on the 1997 fifth-gen Corvette. This C7 Corvette had to be revolutionary, so much so that Ed Welburn, GM's design chief, christened it Stingray, a name not used since 1976.
Juechter and his crew tore up the Corvette's chassis, exterior, interior and, while they were at it, the assembly plant, too. The Corvette factory in Bowling Green, Ky., got a $131 million makeover, including a new body shop to weld the car's aluminum spaceframe.
A new V-8 has the same displacement as today's base 6.2-liter engine, but it cranks out more power while using less fuel at cruising speeds because of direct injection, variable valve timing and cylinder-cutoff technologies. It teams with a seven-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.
"We set out to redefine modern performance," Juechter says. "We scanned the world for technology. But we didn't make changes just to be different. It had to enhance the driving experience."
Today's Grand Sport model combines the base powertrain with a Z06's wider body and is the best-selling Corvette. The 2014 Stingray brings that wide-body look to the base model.
GM conducted an internal but global design competition to craft the C7's rakish look. Juechter says the team considered more than 300 design proposals.
Much of the new Stingray's final shape is traced to a 2009 Stingray concept that played a role in two of the Transformers movies. Among the main elements:
Four character lines flow from its nose to the hood's rear edge. They are not parallel, and this helps define the hood's raised center section.
This Stingray has rear quarter windows, a feature not seen on a Corvette since the 1962 model. The change was needed to make room for air vents above its rear wheels.
In one of the biggest breaks from Corvette history, there are not four perfectly round taillights, until now seen on every Vette since 1961. Rather, the Stingray's taillights are a hexagonal shape -- not Camaro-square as some had predicted -- and use indirect LED lighting for a futuristic look.
The Stingray's gauge cluster uses an 8-inch video monitor behind a smaller 14-inch steering wheel. Gauges for speed, fuel and water temperature flank the video screen. The display can change based on the drive mode selected: An info-rich screen appears when in touring; a large tachometer for sport mode; a race-car-inspired layout with tach band and lap timers for track mode. A full-color head-up display is an option.
A second monitor, bright enough to be viewed in direct sunlight, dominates the center stack. The driver can use hand-swipe gestures on this monitor to control the GM MyLink infotainment system. The screen also folds down to reveal a storage space with a USB connector. There are knobs for controlling the radio and ventilation.
Seats have long been a sore point for Corvette critics, so the Stingray offers a choice: a moderately bolstered touring seat and a highly bolstered competition seat.
A new 450-hp, V-8 LT1 engine delivers as much low-end torque as the 7.0-liter V-8 in today's Z06.