Test drive: Award-winning Corvette Stingray ‘really is that good’

The 2015 C7 Corvette Stingray is powered by a 460-horsepower V8.

The cool part about reviewing new cars as part of your job is that you get to drive and write about a lot of very nice automobiles.

The uncool part is when you do it long enough, you get jaded by promises that this year’s edition of whatever you’re driving on a given week is inherently better than last year’s edition – or better than last week’s review car, for that matter. In that regard, I’ve learned to manage my expectations, or at least not get swept away in the hype.

There are no such problems with this week’s review car, a screamingly loud Velocity Yellow 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray coupe.

I will preface this review by simply saying that in the more than 20 years I’ve spent on this gig and more than 1,000 cars reviewed, the new seventh-generation, or C7, Corvette is one of my two favorite vehicles of all-time, the other being a Porsche 911 Turbo that costs more than double what the Corvette did.

There I said it.

If you wanted to know simply if the Corvette is as good as the reviews its gotten in the past year, the answer is a resounding “yes.” There’s a reason – many reasons, actually – that the Corvette was named North American Car of the Year last year, the first year of the C7 model, or that it earned a consumer review score of 9.8 out of 10 on KBB.com. It really is that good.

The crib sheet version of the Corvette experience is that Chevrolet has created a very lightweight (3,298 pounds) two-seat sports car, added a new-from-the-oil-pan up direct injection, 6.2-liter V-8 that offers 455 or an optional 460 horsepower, and mated it to an extremely responsive chassis. Throw in a great set of brakes and you have a car that pushes the performance envelopes of some actual race cars.

The standard Corvette coupe explodes from 0-60 miles per hour in 3.8 seconds, with a quarter-mile flying by in about 12 seconds flat at 110 mph. What those numbers alone do not explain is just how instantaneous that acceleration really is – you mash the throttle and the C7 takes off like it was shot out of a gun. From an auditory standpoint, the big V-8 reminds one of a vintage 1960s muscle car, or maybe a 1965-67 big block Corvette. Yes, it’s loud, but the noise it makes is heavenly.

A seven-speed manual transmission is standard and new this year is an optional ($1,725) eight-speed automatic, compared to a six-speed on the 2014 ‘Vette. The addition of the two extra gears makes it possible to accelerate quickly, but at a steady 70 mph cruise, get about 30 miles per gallon, which is astonishing when you think about it.

Corvette’s latest creation carries a base price of $53,000.

Yes, the Corvette accelerates like a vintage muscle car and corners and brakes like a modern road racer. But what’s really remarkable is how tractable it is in daily driving. You’d easily make this your daily commute car with no sacrifices beyond a slightly rougher ride than you might be used to. It really is comfortable to drive under normal conditions and exhilarating to push hard on winding, open country rides. The balance of the chassis is exceptional.

Our test Stingray carried a base price of $53,000. Options included the 2LT package, which greatly upgrades the interior; the ZF1 appearance package ($1,995) which is basically the Z51 wheels without the chassis upgrades; performance data and video recorder with nav system ($1,795); Velocity Yellow paint ($995); custom yellow brake calipers ($595) and a handful of other options that brought the window sticker up to $67,445.

Not inexpensive, certainly, but a tremendous value nevertheless.

From a mechanical and technological standpoint, there’s no question, the 2015 Corvette is a world-class sports car that can go head-to-head with – and defeat – some of the best high-dollar cars from Europe and Japan. Clearly, GM didn’t cut any corners whatsoever building the performance capabilities of the new Corvette.

At long last, the issue of interior quality has been successfully addressed. The fit, finish and appearance of materials in the cockpit is world-class now, the gauges easy to read and clearly visible, and the relationship of the pedals, steering wheel and shifter is dead nuts-on perfect.

One final thought: When I drove the C7 for the first time, it was a 2014 coupe in a muted shade of gray. As mentioned previously, this one was yellow. Bright yellow. Blindingly yellow. Personally, I’m not really a yellow kind of guy, but this particular hue was so bold and so over the top that at times it literally stopped traffic. It was loud, it was outrageous and it totally suited this car.

There were but two negatives I found with the new Corvette: It sits so low to the ground that if you’re tall, ingress and egress are clumsy. Once in the cockpit, there’s ample room, which has not always been the case in past Corvettes. Second, the removable targa top is easy to take off, but a good bit harder to line up to put back on.

At any rate, Chevrolet has created the definitive American sports car: Fast, nimble, sexy as hell and priced sanely. I can’t recommend the 2015 C7 Corvette Stingray highly enough.

Interior detail of the 2015 Corvette.

VEHICLE TYPE: Two-passenger sports car, rear-wheel drive.

ENGINE: LT1 V-8, 460 horsepower, 465 pound-feet of torque.

TRANSMISSION: Eight-speed automatic.

WHEELBASE: 106.7 inches.

OVERALL LENGTH: 176.9 inches.

CURB WEIGHT: 3,298 pounds.

EPA MILEAGE RATING: 16 city, 29 highway.