True to its roots but renewed to meet modern tastes, the Corvette remains a sports car of a singular type. Little else in cardom looks as low or as long as this car in profile.
The Corvette’s short suspension turrets facilitate that low bonnet height, while the roofline of that swept-back cabin is also extra-low – even by sports car standards. The net result is that while this car is barely a couple ofmillimetres longer than a Porsche 911, it appears much longer and sleeker. It looks like almost nothing else on the road, in fact, and little short of show-stopping.
Underneath the Corvette’s panels (plastic composite for the most part, with a carbonfibre bonnet and removable hard-top roof) you’ll find a redesigned box-section frame. Now in aluminium, it’s 60 per cent stiffer than the aluminium one from the outgoing Corvette ZR1, and also 45kg lighter than the steel frame of the regular sixth-generation Corvette.
Hung from that frame are new hollow-cast aluminium chassis subframes and unequal-length double wishbones for both the front and rear suspension. Instead of coil springs, Chevrolet continues with composite transverse leaf springs because they create the compactness that delivers the Corvette’s jaw-dropping looks – and its generous boot space. In official European-spec cars, those leaf springs are teamed with adaptive magnetorheological dampers as standard.
The engine providing the motive power is a Chevy small-block V8 – it would have to be – but it’s anything but antiquated. The oversquare, 6162cc powerplant, codenamed LT1, is naturally aspirated and comes with direct fuel injection, continuously variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation.
With 465lb ft, it makes 50lb ft more than the previous model’s V8 and promises combined fuel economy of 24mpg. Driving through a seven-speed manual transmission (the only option available on European cars), it also promises to propel this new Stingray to 60mph from rest in just 4.2sec.
The easiest way to get hold of a new Stingray in the UK will probably be to buy one from an independent ‘grey’ importer — but it may not be the smartest way to buy one. GM Europe fits all of its official imports of the car with Chevrolet’s ‘Z51’ performance upgrade as standard, as well as providing a warranty and retuning its cars for European roads.
The Z51 package is about more than uprated dampers and a racing stripe, mind. Granted, it does bring with it new springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. But it also includes Chevrolet’s electronically controlled limited-slip differential, dry-sump lubrication for the engine, a shorter final drive for the transmission, larger wheels and tyres and better brakes.
More importantly, it buys you dedicated cooling systems for the transaxle transmission and differential. Without those, GM insiders admit, the car’s drivetrain has a tendency to overheat during track use and at prolonged high speeds on the autobahn. The latter is unlikely to be a problem, of course, on 55mph-limited American roads.