This past week, GM premiered the 2014 new generation C7 Chevrolet Corvette. While not a bad looking car except for the rear, there's something about it which at first I couldn't figure out why it didn't excite me. Then it occurred to me that it's like the newest Victoria's Secret model or the hot new actress; she looks good and you wouldn't turn down a date with her, but she doesn't take your breath away because she looks like dozens of hot new models you've seen before, there's no unique factor that stands in my mind. I've seen this car before, lots of times.
From the front, the C7 looks like the Dodge Viper with a little of the Ferrari Berlinetta;
The side profile has been seen before in the Ferrari 599 GTO and the Nissan GT-R;
The back end has the obvious look of the 5th generation Camaro. At least it doesn't appear to be made of what Jeremy Clarkson calls "plastic from a newsreader"
One constant complaint about the previous generations of Corvettes was the rental fleet cheapness of the interior, an afterthought of plastic pieces loosely screwed together. GM says they have heard your disgust and promise that the new interiors have geniune leather, aluminum, and carbon fiber. I still see what looks like lots of gray plastic, but it's certainly a big improvement. The A pillar seems to cut down on visibility though;
The old rounded lines of the Corvette have given way to sharp angles which look like the designers used a chisel on the mold rather than a rasp. For all the hype and anticipation built up by GM's friends in the automotive press and the return of the Sting Ray moniker, I was hoping for the retro look design that brought so much success to the Mustang, Challenger, and Camaro pony car revivals. A retro look 1963 Sting Ray Coupe would have been the sensation I would have hoped for.
When it comes to the composition of the body itself, the C7 does leap forward with an aluminum frame and carbon fiber panels blended with the iconic fiberglass. This should work wonders for the power-weight ratio, and it appears to have done so if the under 4 second 0-60 reports are accurate.
GM is spending billions of taxpayer largesse to develop a new 5.5 liter V8 with variable valve timing and other Teutonic tech, but for now the 2014 will use the holdover 6.2 liter pushrod but all aluminum casting and direct injection bringing 450 hp to the base model. The front engine/rear gearbox configuration continues which keeps the 50/50 weight distribution
The rear suspension has joined the 21st century, casting aside the transverse leaf spring upper arm for a double wishbone multi-link configuration.
Prices start at $50,000 for the base model, certainly within the ballpark for the legacy Corvette market, with engine packages and other options that top out at around $100,000.
Since I'm not a member of the automotive press, unfortunately I can't personally take one out for test drive on the track, nor will a local Chevy dealer let me take one out and open it up since I'm not in the income bracket to be a serious potential customer. I'll have to do it vicariously through the acid test of Top Gear and the acid tongue of Jeremy Clarkson to see if the new Vette can bring the excitement and fun.
The writers at Top Gear's web site seem to be quite impressed so far, but it's a report from the Detroit Car Show and not a performance review. The reporter is certainly not the tough judge that Clarkson, Hammond, May, and the Stig are. The commenters seem to be a bit tougher to please, especially this one whom I suspect may be Jezza himself commenting through a sockpuppet;
It's Frankenstein's monster. A parts bin nightmare. It's got the Viper's grill, Evora's profile and windows, the Ferrari's headlights, the Camaro's taillights, the Chrysler 300's dash and steering wheel, the McLaren MP4's parking break, the 458's cluster, etc, etc. It feels like one of those contests where you win a prize for guessing where all the pieces should go. And for God's sake - 106 horsepower LESS than the Camaro that costs less. Really? Awful to the power of ten.
Ouch! I won't be quite that harsh, but I will say that while the new Corvette does take quite a few steps forward as far as composition, interior, new technical features, power and suspension, they are catching up rather than leading the pack. I like the C7, but since I've seen it's like before it's just not new or different enough to separate it from the other GT's or sports cars in its class. If it were the Victoria's Secret model, I'd certainly take her on a date but I'm not induced to marry her.