Right from the get-go, Chevrolet’s (NYSE:GM) new Corvette had a lot of pressure riding on it. In addition to living up to the standards the Corvette name has made for itself, Chevy had to execute the launch in a way that would also stay in line with the company’s strategic directions and increasing regulatory pressures on factors like fuel consumption. Further, the automaker had to offer the full Corvette package at a Corvette price.
Needless to say, it delivered.
Yahoo’s Motoramic blog notes that at its birth in the ’50s, “the Corvette’s sticker price of $3,490 was high but not outlandish for a two-seat sports car — slightly more than a median family’s annual income … Today, the median U.S. family of four earns $51,000 a year, and lo and behold, the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray starts at $52,000.”
However, just because the Corvette falls near the bottom of its class for price, don’t assume that the Chevy engineers built a budget sports car. The new pushrod V8 with two valves per cylinder offers an array of modern touches, compliments of new and improved software that allows the Corvette to be the kind of doubled-edged sword that goes from 0 to 60 in 3.8 seconds and manages 29 miles per gallon on the highway.
The engine is able to disable four of its eight cylinders when driving on the open road, using just 12 of its 460 horsepower to keep the car moving, Motoramic reports.
Moreover, the Corvette uses an array of new sensors and gadgets to ensure that the driver is always getting the best possible driving experience.
“Over 200 miles of driving and a few laps of an autocross course, I found I couldn’t fool the Vette without directly telling it to play dumb,” Justin Hyde from Motoramic said. ”If I screwed up a corner, there was always either more torque to wheel me around faster or the right amount of braking to recover gracefully.”
However, if there was one catch to the car, it seems to be the seven-speed transmission unit that puts the power to the ground.
“The top two gears are almost superfluous, and even at 70 mph on a freeway I worried the V-8 might stall in top gear,” Hyde pointed out. “[Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter] says the team hasn’t done its top-speed testing yet, but expects the Vette to reach somewhere north of 190 mph in fifth gear. In fact, from about 40 mph on, there’s no need for anything but fifth — because the torque band of the V-8 has been stretched so wide.”
Hyde did have a couple of other small gripes with the car, such as the amount of plastic in the interior, the lack of a spare tire, and the cost that the Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber tires will demand when they need to be replaced.
Those things aside, Motoramic decided that, for the money — around $52,000 at base, about $57,000 for a well-equipped Z51 model — no other car offers the amount of performance that the Corvette does.
“It’s not that GM has hidden its cost cutting,” Hyde concludes. “It’s that without the Corvette Stingray, foreign sports car makers could get away with overcharging for things that shouldn’t cost so much. Because the Vette will share an engine block with millions of GM’s pickups and SUVs, and engineering talent for basics like safety tests and fuel economy, it costs far less to build than Porsche or BMW can ever match.
“In the world of performance cars, the Stingray’s a bargain,” he wrote. “Keeping the rest of the world honest is just gravy.”