This post is not to insinuate the base trim Corvette is the best of its range. It isnâ€™t. In a family that includes a 650 hp supercharged sibling and an even more bonkers 755 hp bewinged brother, a naturally-aspirated coupe making 455 horses suddenly starts to look like the litterâ€™s runt. What a time to be a gearhead.
No, this post is meant to ascertain just how good the $55,495 entry-level Stingray stands on its own merits. Itâ€™s often said the Corvette is one of the best American performance bargains on the market. Can a no-frills example nudge the Ace of Base meter? Letâ€™s find out.
When the C7 showed up at the Detroit Auto Show in 2013, it was clear Ed Welburn and company set out to give longtime Corvette fans a collective coronary. Taking inspiration from the fifth-gen Camaro and its square butt, the carâ€™s new angular tail lights caused plenty of consternation. Some corners of the internet ranted and generally frothed, while others quietly tut-tutted into their tea. The company responded by selling double the number of Corvettes it did the previous year.
Base Stingrays, dubbed the 1LT in the mesmerizing hierarchy of trims-within-trims, are bloody well-equipped. Under the hood is the hand-of-God 6.2-liter V8, cranking out 455 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. Chevy says the car can scamper to 60 mph from rest in under four seconds. The vaunted Ferrari F40, whose sticker price when new was $417,000 before market adjustments, was no faster to sixty. It made about the same amount of horsepower, too.
An aluminum frame with composite underbody panels contribute to a near 50/50 weight distribution. A removable roof panel lets in the elements. Standard equipment to stir the gears is a seven-speed manual transmission, a unit which includes an active rev matching system, meaning your friends will think you can shift like Schumacher. In an age of whip-smart technology, the eight-speed paddle shift automatic reportedly hustles the Vette down the quarter-mile faster than the stick. Brembo branded brakes haul the Stingray to a stop.
Chevy was keen to bin all references too good â€œfor a Corvetteâ€� when it came to the interior. It ditched the Barcaloungers found in the old model, installing new leather-appointed “GT” buckets that are powered eight ways for both the driver and passenger. Infotainment is housed in an 8-inch screen, with Bose branded speakers and smartphone integration through CarPlay and Android Auto. A flat-bottomed steering wheel twirls the electric power steering and rests at the end of a column that adjusts for reach and rake.
Any number of eye-popping colors are on offer for no extra charge, in addition to snazzy hues for the interior buckets. Admiral Blue Metallic looks especially tasty but any sort of extra exterior frippery will dent your wallet.
Stickered in the mid-50s, the Stingray represents one of the most complete performance packages for the money on sale in America today. Given 50 percent more cash, Iâ€™d obviously pop for the Z06. With 100 percent more scratch, Iâ€™d clearly get the ZR1. There are even a few options on the base Stingray Iâ€™d be hard pressed to pass up. But if my budget for a toy is in the range of the new pickup of which I just took delivery, Iâ€™m headed straight to a Chevy store.
[Image: General Motors]
Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, BB? Let us know in the comments. Naturally,Â feel free to eviscerate our selection.
The model above is shown in American dollars with American options and trim, absent of destination charges and available rebates. As always, your dealer may sell for less.