(PHOTOS BY DAVE NUTTING) – We’ve been chomping at the bit to get our hands on a C7 Corvette since they started rolling off the line in Bowling Green and our ticket finally got punched recently when Chevrolet threw us the keys to the machine you see smoldering the tires in the photo above. The 2015 Corvette Stingray that we had the keys to was a convertible that had an interesting array of options, not least of which was the new 8-speed automatic transmission that is making its grand debut in the Vette but will soon be found in trucks and other models through the lineup. While you may scoff at the notion of an automatic Corvette and we’d sure love to pull the handle on the seven speed stick that is the standard transmission in this car, we were kind of stoked to be among the first in the country to have at it with the eight speed. To get right off with it, our car was equipped with the following options:
- 2LT package (think of this as a luxury group with stuff like multi adjustable seats with heating and AC, heated mirrors, premium sound, heads up display, etc.
- ZF1 appearance package – This is essentially a Z51 dress up kit. The car was not quipped with the Z51 suspension but it did have the larger wheels, and more aggressive body pieces, and the Michelin Pilot tires. Our car was not equipped with the Z51 suspension package but it was equipped with the nifty Performance Data and Video Recorder option, which we messed around with a little and it was really cool.
- The 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters
- Remote starter
- Multi-mode performance exhaust, which was great and we’ll talk about later
- Carbon Fiber interior package
- Suede seat inserts
In many respects we had a pretty base Corvette. The base price for the convertible car is $58,000 and with the $12,260 we had in options, the final tally was $71,255. Having spent a week in a $97,000 Jaguar just about a week before having the Corvette, I can tell you straight up and without fear of contradicting myself that this Corvette (sans the Z51 package, no less) would eat up that Jag and spit it out sideways, is more comfortable, and turned more heads per mile than the very nice British car did for the entire time that I had it. The Jaguar’s interior certainly was a more luxuriant feeling place to be and it certainly was a fun driver, but the Corvette is a car you could climb into and cruise across the country in total comfort and with enough power to have tons of fun along the way. Perception being reality in today’s world, the number of people who were begging for (and got!) rides in the Corvette far and away surpassed any of the other stuff I have driven this year. The C7 really is a great platform and the Stingray’s styling has made it a modern icon in a very short amount of time.
I am sure that there will be come free flowing haterade for the fact that this car was not equipped with the Z51 suspension or the manual transmission and that’s fine, but the reality is that I try to take each car that comes my way on its own merits. Lots of Corvettes in this configuration will be driven gently to Corvette club cruise nights and early dinners, and to the golf course, and if that’s what the owners want to do, so be it. That being said, there’s a beast lurking right under the end of your toe and once you start dipping into it, you can’t stop…or at least I couldn’t. The multi-mode exhaust is whisper quiet with some nice V8 tone at part throttle but when you lean into the gas slightly or go WOT, the car screams and roars in all the ways you would want it to. The multiple driver settings available change the attitude of the car some. We drove around in “track” mode for most of the week because that’s how we roll and it turns the car into the most responsive street car we have ever driven. Once you give it the wood a couple of times and it “learns” how you’ll be driving, it will hold the current gear at any given throttle position, it will go to the lowest possible gear at any given speed so throttle inputs have you planted firmly into the seat. The automatic will also assist in hard breaking by dropping multiple gears to help get you slowed down.
The 460hp base LT1 engine is awesome. A docile cruiser with a slide lump at idle that lets you know it is there and then a willing participant in the redline boogie when you bury your foot, the power curve is fantastic and we can only imagine the terror that the new Z06 will inspire in passengers with tons more power, less weight, and an exhaust note that will probably sound like the hounds of hell barking. With the traction control off and the little devil on your shoulder telling you to do naughty things, this “base” Corvette is capable of making regular Joes feel pretty capable behind the wheel. It stays firmly planted until you don’t want it to and throttle induced oversteer is some of the most controllable we have felt in anything we have ever driven. There’s never a sense that the car is going to hang you out to dry and even with the tires churning and the back of the car stepping out, gentle steering corrections keep things in the happy outer edge of “in control”. The car does not feel heavy or large and yet it does not feel claustrophobic either. There’s storage space in cool hidden locations, like behind the LCD screen, USB plugs to charge your stuff, and with the convertible top down, wind noise is very minimal. Full conversations were had at well beyond highway speeds with the top dropped. Top up and it is really quiet in there. Shockingly quiet for something with a fabric roof, actually.
If we were buying a Corvette we would not option it this way because we’re a little harder edged and core than the guy or girl who would want this specific car. It is easy to make gold chainer cracks about a Corvette like this, but the car will run in the 11s as it sits and gets to 60 in under 4 seconds. Oh, it also gets nearly 30mpg. The mileage is absolutely effing insane. I thought the gauge was jacked up after a couple days of hammering on the car because the needle had not really moved. We’re not sure if it is a good thing to say or not, but the Corvette could easily be a daily driver in climates that support it. You have power to wipe the highways with virtually anything, the eight speed is a sweet piece, and the looks are awesome. I’m a fan.
WE’RE GOING TO TELL THE REST OF THE STORY THROUGH DAVE NUTTING’S SWEET PHOTOS – READ ON!