MONTEREY, Calif. -- Chevrolet's 2014 Corvette Stingray is improved from the outgoing sixth-generation car by every major measurement: It's faster, more powerful, more refined and more fuel efficient, and has a much better interior.
But it is the sports car's edgy exterior styling -- "futuristic," "exotic" and "more international" were descriptions used here by Corvette designers during a test drive for the automotive press -- that General Motors is counting on to cultivate a new breed of Corvette loyalists.
The seventh iteration of the sports car introduced 60 years ago should solidify the Corvette's status as an attainable dream car. At $51,995 for the coupe, including shipping, the car matches the performance credentials of peers that are priced two or three times higher. The price is up $1,400 from that of the current comparable model.
The basics: The new aluminum frame is 100 pounds lighter and 57 percent stiffer than the steel frame that underpins the 2013 base and Grand Sport models. That extra stiffness, along with a magnetic-based damping system and a new electronic limited slip differential, kept the Corvette sure-footed even at high speeds on the pebble-strewn roads that snake through this area's coastal mountain range.
Under the carbon fiber hood is a new 6.2-liter V-8 engine that produces 455 hp and 460 pounds-feet of torque. In a first for the Corvette, the car features cylinder deactivation, which cuts fuel to four of the cylinders under light loads. The technology, used on GM's full-sized pickups since 2007, helps the car get 29 mpg on the highway, up from 26 mpg on the outgoing model.
The engine is teamed with a seven-speed manual gearbox with what GM calls Active Rev Match, which anticipates gear changes for smoother shifts. It's also available with a six-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission. The car scoots from 0 to 60 in 3.8 seconds, GM says. Stomping on the throttle of a Z51 performance model with an automatic transmission produced a 4.2-second reading on the digital 0-to-60 readout on the instrument panel.