2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray first drive review Page 2

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But what about that uber-stiff chassis? That's obvious on the street, where the car feels firm and planted, letting the suspension do the work of soaking up bumps, potholes, and undulations. That means, with the optional magneto-rheological (MR) dampers fitted (a $1,200 option), the Z51 Stingray is actually quite comfortable even over broken, rough roads. Take that stiffness to the autocross course, and the feel the car communicates as to what each corner's contact patch is doing is remarkable.

Understeer is easily preempted even without the aids turned on, with the steering and the seat both telling you what's coming. Oversteer is easy to prevent, though still quite difficult to acquire and maintain (if you're after some tail-out antics), though it is possible with enough seat time.

In short, the 2014 Corvette Stingray coupe is a monster on the road and the closed course, readily taking the driver's input and generating smiles, speed, and glorious V-8 sound as the output. It's genuinely fun, and seriously capable.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray first drive

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray first drive

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The day-to-day

There's some tire noise, and the car is pretty low to the ground, but those are the only real grumbles most people should have with the car.

For a sports car, the Stingray is quite comfortable, thanks in large part to the completely redesigned seats. While the optional sport seats aren't yet available for testing, we'd be happy to have the base model's seats--they're eight-way power adjustable (including lumbar), well-bolstered, and comfortable even for extended stints behind the wheel. My only gripe about the seats: they place the driver's derriere a touch higher than this sports car nut would like. A power tilt-and-telescope wheel makes getting the perfect driving position easy, even if you're a long-legged, short-armed weirdo like me.

As with the previous generation, the new Stingray's hatch-accessible cargo area is quite spacious. I've easily fit a week's luggage for two and a pony keg in the C6, and the C7 should hold at least as much.

As for the interior: it's even better than it looks in the photos. The real winner in my book is the "brownstone" shown on the 2014 Stingray Convertible at the New York Auto Show earlier this year, but even with more ordinary leather, the look and feel is finally what the Corvette should have been all along: sporty with a definite dash of luxury. Upgrade to 3LT trim and the dash becomes a dollop. The carbon fiber instrument panel surround is a $995 add-on, but it's worth the spend, too. It raises the look and feel of the car to yet another level.

An eight-inch screen in the instrument panel enables a different display suiting each of the five drive modes (Weather, Eco, Touring, Sport, and Race), further increasing the high-tech, luxury feel, and actually providing some visual performance benefit, most notably in Race mode, where the tachometer and gauge layout is modeled after the in-dash display of the Corvette Racing ALMS cars. There's another screen just like it in the center stack for the various infotainment controls, too.

The decision

If you're in the market for a world-class sports car and you're not hung up on foreign-sounding points of origin or country club badge envy, buy this car. You won't regret it. It's fantastic fun, and it's an absolute bargain when paired against any of the competition.

The Stingray is the new benchmark.

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