Chevrolet Corvette Stingray — A refined sports car

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The new Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is impressive. We can't remember a vehicle that delivered so many things so well including styling that is guaranteed to turn heads, exotic performance at a less-than-exotic price, a very drivable demeanor making it an excellent choice as a daily driver, and a vastly improved interior with updated technology.

Since its inception more than 60 years ago, the Corvette has been America's sports car.  The seventh generation, now in its second model year, was awarded the name Stingray and it lives up to the stature of the iconic Corvette of the 1960s. The 2014 Corvette was the most awarded car of the year. It's even better for 2015. The Stingray gets an all-new eight-speed automatic, a Performance Data Recorder, and OnStar with 4G LTE and a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot. In addition, the long-awaited 650-horsepower Z06 has just gone on sale.

Chevrolet put a lot of effort into upgrading the interior, an area that has cried out for improvement over the years. The cockpit design has been improved with the center stack — which now includes a large eight-inch touchscreen — more canted toward the driver promoting a jetfighter-like cockpit feel. The quality of materials has been improved with more soft-touch areas and first-class leather stitching. Trim pieces are made of real carbon fiber and aluminum.

Also new is a reconfigurable gauge display. Specifically, the tachometer display changes according to the priorities of the drive mode — Weather, Eco, Tour, Sport and Track — that can be selected on the center console. We found the Tour setting to our taste for every day driving.

We found the most used features very accessible. The climate controls are easy to operate, located under the center information screen. No need to go into a layer of information screen settings to find them. And radio presets are large and easy to use on the big screen. But while the new Vette has a backup camera, strangely absent are blindspot monitors, a feature that should come in every vehicle.

The interior upgrade that impressed us the most were the seats although they still sit rather low. Unlike Corvettes of the past, these seats are comfortable and supportive. Available are optional competition-style sports seats for those who favor extra lateral support during hard cornering. And Corvette continues to be one of most user-friendly sports cars on the planet with its hatchback design and 15-cubic-foot cargo area. Yes, a set of golf clubs will fit under the glass.

But it's in the driving that truly makes the newest Corvette shine. The heart and soul of the new beast is the upgraded 6.2-liter V-8 making 455 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. The new engine gains direct fuel injection, variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation. Power gains were made over the outgoing car by adding about 50 pound-feet of torque below 4,000 rpm. For even more grunt, the optional dual-mode exhaust provides a slight power boost to 460 horses and 465 pound-feet of torque. And to give the engine more efficient use of the power band, the 2015 Vette is now equipped with GM's all-new eight-speed paddle-shift automatic. A seven-speed manual with active rev matching continues to be the standard transmission.

The Corvette exhibited exceptional overall balance with the help of its Magnetic Ride Control and the steering is quick and right on the money. There are dozens of published times for the Vette that can be used for comparison purposes. The ones we like best — and the numbers posted by Chevrolet — are 0-to-60, 3.8 seconds; quarter-mile, 12 seconds at 119 mph. In addition, at least two auto sites have recorded incredible stopping performance measured in a scant 93 feet from 60 to zero mph.

There are numerous performance options available including a rather unique performance data and video recorder at $1,795, new for 2015. It enables users to record high-definition video, with telemetry overlays, of their driving experiences on and off the track. Another feature on our test Corvette was Performance Velocity Yellow Tintcoat. We have never been fans of yellow, but somehow it worked for us on the Stingray, together with a Jet Black interior and black accents including hot-looking black alloy wheels with matching yellow brake calipers, black outside mirrors and black vent cutouts.

The base Corvette goes out the door for $53,995, a veritable bargain for such an advanced sports car. Most will purchase their car with some options and upgrades, but even so we think a well-equipped Vette can be had for just north of 60 grand. Our test car with numerous options including the $1,995 ZF1 Appearance Package carried a bottom line of $67,445.

Base price: $53,995; as driven, $67,445
Engine: 6.2-liter V-8
Horsepower: 460 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 465 pound-feet @ 4,600 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: rear wheel
Seating: 2
Wheelbase: 106.7 inches
Length: 176.9 inches
Curb weight: 3,298 pounds
Turning circle: 37.7 feet
Luggage capacity: 15 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 18.5 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 29 highway, 16 city
0-60: 3.8 seconds (manufacturer)
Also consider: Porsche Boxster, BMW M4, Mercedes C63 AMG

The Good
• Rumbling V-8 power
• Refined interior
• Roomy cargo area
• Impressive handling
• Extraordinary braking

The Bad
• No blindspot monitoring system

The Ugly
• There's nothing ugly about this sports car