Since the very start, the Chevrolet Corvette has won the hearts of automotive enthusiast since its birth in 1953. Over the years, Corvette culture has created an entirely new way to think about the American sports car. Seeing an original example of the first generation today evokes nostalgia, and ignites the notion of just how innovative and imaginative designers were. Throughout each generation, the Corvette name continues to push the envelope in design, performance, and engineering, while still upholding an exceptional formula for a legend.
And now, after a highly anticipated wait, the new seventh generation has bowed, and taken the industry by storm. After months of spy photos, rumors, and wonder, the C7 is finally here. While attending the North American launch of the new Corvette Stingray in Detroit last January, I wasn’t quite sure what to think. At first glance, I instantly saw a Ferrari-like profile with an edgy shark looking front end. But, I liked it. I mean its resemblance of one of Italy’s finest sports car, and the ocean’s top predator isn’t really a bad thing. Is it now?
Fast forward nine months later when I get an invitation from my automotive media association, SAMA based out of Miami, to not only see and meet the new C7 Stingray in person at my favorite Miami restaurant, Barton G, but also to drive it! It didn’t matter what was going on that day in my life, I wasn’t going to miss this for the world!
Upon arrival to Barton G, three very stunning new Stingrays lined the front of the restaurant with proper Corvette marketing flags. An Artic White, Velocity Yellow, and Blade Silver Metallic model complemented the front of the establishment, and instantly made it the hottest place to be in South Beach for the afternoon. During a completely outrageous lunch sponsored by Chevrolet, John Fitzpatrick, Chevrolet Performance Marketing Manager, presented a spectacular presentation highlighting the new Corvette Stingray and how it will set a new impression in history. Upon exit, gift bags contained a detailed, 1:18 scale model of the new Corvette. Then, it was time to drive!
Fellow SAMA member, Orlando Examiner, and good friend Michael Block joined me for what was probably one of my most exciting drives through South Beach Miami I’ve ever done. Michael and I had the highly privileged opportunity to be one of the first in the country to drive a full production, 7-speed manual, Artic White Corvette for the afternoon. The test car included a wicked combination of red leather seats with two-tone black leather accents, and was fully loaded with most options available. To Corvette tradition, a targa top was present and lifted off for an exhilarating, open-air experience during our test drive.
Upon entry into to the C7, the interior has noticeably received major attention to detail. A notable complaint from previous generations highlighted the interior, and specifically the seats and materials used. All these concerns should no longer be an issue. The seats are incredible, and offer plenty of support for even the most spirited of driving excursions, like say, an afternoon in South Beach. Leather adorns the interior from wall to wall, and offers plenty of coverage even on the dashboard, where detailed stitching flows throughout. On the test car, an Alcantara drenched A-pillar, headliner, and B-pillar underlined the sport orientation and touch of luxury that Corvette has always been recognized for.
Technology wasn’t absent either, as the prominently displayed center screen accurately displayed the navigation system in clear sight. The new, customizable dashboard readouts change dependent on the drive style from five distinctive drive modes. By just the flip of a dial, a traditional analog speedometer layout is available, as is digital, with crisp and clear full color displays. A rev match synchronization to the 7-speed manual was a nice addition, and constructed quite the noise while downshifting when set in the aggressive track mode. Acceleration was instantaneous, and although the 3.8 second run to 60 mph was unachievable on the local roads in Miami Beach, the performance wasn’t hindered, and could be felt.
During the drive, tourists and locals couldn’t help to stop what they were doing to take a glimpse of what they seen, or heard drive by. Many couldn’t believe their eyes, and guaranteed that most thought it was some type of high-end exotic sports car. Well, it is. It’s just a very affordable exotic sports car. Everything about this car is just right, and like most Corvette generations, this sports car is a completely balanced machine ready to take on the road and track. The Corvette has always been recognized as the best bang for buck available, and certainly the new C7 Stingray helps to reinforce that commitment. Starting at just under $52,000, the competition should have a close eye.
A big thank you goes out to our friends at General Motors and Chevrolet for their hospitality and grace for allowing the best automotive media association in the south to create a moment that won’t be forgotten. This new Corvette Stingray is ready to make another legendary mark in history, and the competition from Asia and Europe should beware. The all-new 2014 Chevrolet Corvette is good, very good. There is no doubt this will be a product to be recognized for upcoming “car of the year” awards from the industry, and for GM, will go down in history as changing the America’s sports car game, once again! Game on, and God Bless America!