The Corvette Stingray is a track weapon, a daily driver, and a grand tourer
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The Corvette Stingray is waaay too easy to drive way too fast. I’m not complaining, however, this modern flying shingle is not always easy to live with.
The Corvette will celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2023. Now in its eighth generation, this American icon of a car has the longest-running nameplate on the road today, Chevrolet says. And it will celebrate the occasion with 70th Anniversary Edition models, but more on that below.
Now in its eighth generation, the Corvette Stingray is a complete re-engineering that swapped the traditional front-engine format for a midengine layout. The Stingray continues as rear-wheel drive, but Chevrolet just announced plans for electrified and electric versions. And more on that below, too.
“In terms of comfort and fun, it still looks and feels like a Corvette, but it drives better than any in Corvette history,” General Motors President Mark Reuss said in a statement.
Compared to the Gen-7 Corvette, the new Stingray is 2.5 inches longer on a half-inch longer wheelbase (107.2 inches). It is 2.2 inches wider (76.1 inches) with a roofline lowered by 0.2 inch. The turning circle grew slightly to 38 feet, but the FE4 option for Magnetic Ride Control will trim the arc to 36.4 feet. (And you will want the MR control, $1,895.)
The 2022 Corvette Stingray is sold in trim levels of LT1, LT2, and LT3.
The LT1 is the garden-variety Corvette Stingray. It has the genuine powertrain but with fewer convenience features and access to options. Stingray LT1 pricing starts at $62,295, including the $1,395 freight charge from Bowling Green, Ky.
LT2 is the sweet spot for standard features and access to desirable extras. Pricing starts at $69,595.
LT3 is the loaded choice, starting at $74,245.
Today’s LT2 tester was $78,425 with options that most’ Vette enthusiasts would want. (Standard and optional features for the test car are in the specs box at the end of the story.)
Hydraulic lift system. Allows the driver to raise the chin by 2 inches for driveway and speed-bump transitions. The system is GPS-enabled and can remember 1,000 locations to automatically raise. It lifts almost as quickly as the Stingray can launch to 60 mph, in 2.8 seconds.
Two trunks. The 12.6-cubic-foot rear trunk has space for two medium-size golf bags or an airline-spec carry-on and a laptop bag. A “frunk,” front trunk, adds a couple of cubic feet.
Carbon fiber rear bumper beam. An industry first in a production car to save weight, Chevrolet says. The Stingray has a curb weight of 3,535 to 3,637 pounds, depending on trim level.
2 HD front cameras as parking aids to avoid curb rash.
A lightweight glass panel on the rear hatch shows off the 6.2-liter V-8.
The re-engineered and naturally aspirated V-8, known as the LT2, has 490 horsepower and 465 foot-pounds of torque at 5,150 rpm. Opt for the performance exhaust ($1,195) and get 495-hp and 470 lb.-ft. of torque. And that would be a well-spent $1,195.
Every part under the hood, including the exhaust system’s wires, tubes, routing fasteners, coolant hoses, exhaust manifold, and even the bolts and fasteners, was built with appearance in mind, said Corvette Executive Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter in a statement. Even the heat shields are textured. And the lightweight glass panel on the rear hatch allows owners to show off the engine.
The LT2 V-8 has two overhead valves per cylinder and direct injection. Active Fuel Management shuts off a bank of cylinders when the engine is not under acceleration, such as when cruising on the highway.
Fuel economy ratings are 16 mpg city, 24 highway, and 19 mpg combined on the recommended 87 octane. It is not uncommon to see 24 to 28 mpg on the highway or 9 to 12 mpg around town.
There is no choice for a manual transmission. And for the first time, there is an eight-speed dual-clutch (automated manual) automatic with six drive modes. A button on the shift console allows manual shifting.
The six drive modes are Weather, Tour, Sport, Track, MyMode (configurable to the driver), and Z mode. The “Z” is for Zora Arkus-Duntov, the father of Corvette, and also the Z06, ZR1, and Z51 Corvette performance packages.
Z mode is activated by a metallic “Z” button on the steering wheel. This mode builds on the MyMode configurations and includes a powertrain setting that controls the gas pedal, transmission, and engine response.
Engineers calibrated the DCT with a low first gear to quickly get the car off the line. The close-ratio, two-through-six gears keep the engine near the power peak on track, Juechter said. Tall seventh and eighth gears make for fuel-efficient long-distance cruising with low mechanical stress.
“The performance shift algorithms are so driver-focused, they can sense when you’re doing spirited driving — regardless of driving mode — and will hold lower gears longer for more throttle response,” Juechter said.
The midengine layout allows the car to “rotate around you in a turn,” he said. “The very short, straight (electric) steering system gives an instant response.”
And the Stingray has better weight distribution.
“The driving dynamics are better than we thought they’d be,” Juechter said.
He calls the new Corvette a track weapon, a daily driver, and a grand tourer.
Once the driver is belted into position, the Corvette Stingray experience is supercar sublime. It’s the crackle and hack of the 495-hp V-8 as it clears its throat on start-up. And then the siren song of the pipes blaring at 3,000 rpm in third gear.
The optional Magnetic Selective Ride Control ($1,895) is the secret sauce to the suspension. It has a remarkable range to be so effective from touring to track modes. Ride comfort in Touring mode soaks up more road harshness than a typical family car. Track mode is hard but not hostile.
Suspension engineering, braking, and wide rubber form a united front of car control.
Tires on the Stingray are of staggered sizes front to rear: 245/35ZR 19 inches front and 305/30ZR 20 inches rear. Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4 performance run-flat tires provide supple grip when pushed to the edge, without the hardness of some zero-pressure tires.
Front and rear Brembo disc brakes have four-piston two-piece front calipers and four-piston monobloc rear calipers — 12.6 inches front, 13.3 inches rear.
And oh, how fine it feels when downshifting and tucking into a corner — it’s the promise of a good time. The sensation recalls how much fun driving once was.
The supercar cabin is as functional as it can be. There is wide hip and shoulder room of 52/54.4 inches, but the side bucket-seat bolsters might feel narrow for some.
The cockpit interior is a driver-focused command center. A ridge of cabin controls sweeps downward from the instrument panel to the armrest console. The design looks cool (if a little gimmicky) to select temperature controls, fan, and the heated and ventilated seats. But the design also creates a mono-posto effect that isolates the passenger from the experience, with not much of an “oh-shit” grab bar for support.
General Motors President Mark Reuss announced via LinkedIn.com that there would be news of electrified Corvettes soon.
“Yes, in addition to the amazing new Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and other gas-powered variants coming, we will offer an electrified and a fully electric, Ultium-based Corvette in the future. In fact, we will offer an electrified Corvette as early as next year. Details and names to come at a later date.”
Next year marks the 70th anniversary of Corvette. In tribute, there will be special 70th Anniversary Edition packages for the 2023 model year Corvette Stingray and Corvette Z06.
70th Anniversary Edition Corvettes will be built in one of two exterior colors unique to this package: White Pearl Metallic Tri-coat or Carbon Flash Metallic. Stripes will be available in colors of Satin Gray with the White Pearl Metallic Tri-coat and Satin Black with the Carbon Flash Metallic.
Special 70th Anniversary Edition features include distinct wheels with commemorative wheel center caps. While Stingray and Z06 have different wheel designs, the wheels share a similar dark finish and Edge Red stripe.
Inside the cockpit are Ceramic leather GT2 or Competition Sport seats, red stitching throughout, red seatbelts, and suede-like microfiber seat inserts and steering wheel.
Additional 70th Anniversary Edition content includes:
- Exterior badging, including special Corvette crossflags;
- Edge Red brake calipers;
- Logo on seats, steering wheel, and sill plates;
- Rear bumper protector and trunk cover;
- Custom luggage set with red stitching and 70th Anniversary Edition logo;
- Edge Red engine cover for the coupes.
The 70th Anniversary Edition package will be available when production starts later this year on 2023 Corvette Stingray 3LT and Z06 3LZ
coupe and convertible models. Pricing had not been announced at the time of posting this story. Car and Driver speculates the 2023 Z06 will start at around $90,000.
Get the details at the 2023 Corvette Z06 visualizer on Chevrolet.com. It also includes details on the 70th Anniversary Edition package.
And here is the link to my first look at the 2023 Corvette Z06.
All 2023 Corvettes, including those not equipped with the 70th Anniversary Edition package, will feature a commemorative 70th anniversary interior plaque on the center speaker grille and a graphic imprinted on the lower rear window.
And there are two new paint colors, raising the choices to 14, with eight interior colors.
The Stingray LT2 is the sweet spot of the Corvette trim levels. The LT1 has limitations for personalization; the LT3 can be too intense for the enthusiastic fan flirting with Corvette ownership. And the LT2 has supercar potential with open arms for any level of driver.
The tester in Hypersonic Gray Metallic paint and the Trident silver-painted aluminum wheels gave the Stingray a sophisticated presence. Not all Corvettes have to be red.
If you knew the previous Corvette, elements of the new Stingray would be familiar:
• The distinct interior smell of the composite fiberglass and plastic body panels.
• The V-8 still sounds like a Corvette. And the push of rear-wheel drive is smile-generating.
• Seat height and the wide view over the hood and at the side windows.
But no matter how glorious it can be to drive, it also is self-limiting to buyers:
• The wide and low body is a workout when trying to park in a small shopping strip;
• Low seat drop-in height, and the oomph-boost when exiting the cabin;
• Long doors create a door-ding squeeze for entry in tight parking situations.
The Corvette Enigma
The Chevrolet Corvette is an enigma, an icon, an American all-star, and a hometown hero.
I’ve been testing Corvettes since the fourth generation, or C4, which ran from 1984 to 1996. The public reaction to seeing a Corvette is unlike any other high-performance sports car I’ve tested.
The Corvette generates friendly encounters with fans and the fascinated. Passers-by go out of their way to share their Corvette stories. I’ve been waved through several times at four-way stop signs before it was my turn. That has never happened in a Porsche.
And rather than hot-shoes looking to challenge the big-bad Corvette, I get a thumbs-up.
Perhaps it is respect and honor for the badge.
Body style: 2-seat, rear-wheel-drive sport coupe with a liftoff roof panel and composite body
Engine: 490-hp, direct-injection, OHV 6.2-liter LT2 V-8; 465 lb.-ft. torque at 5,150 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch with manual and automatic modes
0-60 mph acceleration: 3 seconds; quarter-mile in 11.2 seconds at 123 mph
Fuel economy: 16/24/19 mpg city/hwy/combined; 87 octane
BY THE NUMBERS
Fuel tank: 18.5 gallons
Trunk space: 12.6 cubic feet
Head/leg room: 37.9/42.8 inches
Length/wheelbase: 182.3/107.2 inches
Width/height: 76.1/48.6 inches
Track, front/rear: 64.9/62.4 inches
Curb weight: 3,535 pounds
Turning circle: 38 feet (or 36.4 feet with the FE4 option for Magnetic Ride Control)
LT2 standard equipment includes: Keyless open and push-button ignition with remote start; leather-trimmed upholstery; 12-inch color driver gauge display; HD front and rear cameras; wireless Apple CarPlay/Wireless Android Auto capability; wireless charging; 8-way power GT1 bucket seats with lumbar and bolster adjustment; performance data and video recorder; memory seat presets for driver and passenger; leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel with power tilt and telescoping; rear camera mirror; Bose Performance Series 14-speaker audio system; head-up display; Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system with navigation and 8-inch HD color touch screen; carpeted floor mats and cargo nets; floor console with covered storage; vehicle health management
LT2 Exterior features: Removable roof panel; Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4 performance run-flat tires (245/35ZR19 front and 305/30ZR20 rear); 19-inch front and 20-inch rear 5-open-spoke Bright Silver-painted aluminum wheels; Solar-Ray light-tinted glass; limited-slip rear differential; body-color heated, driver-side auto-dimming power-folding outside mirrors with integrated turn signal indicators; body-color roof panel; Carbon Flash exterior badge and trim package; LED headlights;
Safety features include: 4 air bags, traction and stability controls, rear cross-traffic alert, rear park assist, side blind zone alert; inclination (theft) sensor
Base price: $62,295, including $1,395 freight charge; price as tested $78,425
Options on test vehicle:
- Front adjustable height lift, with GPS memory, $2,260;
- Magnetic Selective Ride Control, $1,895.
- 19-inch front and 20-inch rear Trident wheels, $1,495.
- Performance exhaust, $1,195.
- Engine appearance package, $995 (Carbon pieces)
- Low rear spoiler and front splitter, $595.
- Torch Red seat belts, $395
Where assembled: Bowling Green, Ky.
Warranty: 3-years/36,000-miles bumper to bumper; 5-years/60,000-miles powertrain with roadside assistance; free first maintenance