Next-Gen: The 2014 Corvette C7 Arrives With Praise And a Bit of Controversy

Automotive manufacturers have long been plagued by a very difficult task.  What do you do when you make a great car, and then have to find a way to make its successor even better?  Well, one could argue that Chevrolet faced this dilemma while designing their new Corvette C7.  And GM’s filing for bankruptcy in 2009 certainly didn’t help.  However, after teasing the automotive world with spy shots of a brand new shape, and releasing a driveable version of the car in the PS3 video game Gran Turismo 5, the new Corvette has finally been unveiled to the world.

It started in a factory.  A factory which looked like it hadn’t been used or even looked at for at least 20 years.  However, within the walls of this large, dark facility, a distinct shape stood among a stage with a shining, silver cloth caressing its curves, and camera flashes bouncing off the cover.  And, as the introductory video began and automotive journalists started scribbling, the cloth came to life, with multi-colored lines racing over the top of it, a computer-animated engine towards the front, and red sporty seats in the middle.  Suddenly, a dark cloak towards the shape’s right opened, and out raced the bright, gleaming 2014 Chevrolet Corvette C7 Stingray.

Now that last word may have just raised an eyebrow.  Stingray?  Indeed, for the new Corvette will bear the name given to its earliest predecessor, the car that changed the stance of American sports cars in the global market.  But, enough with the story telling, you probably want to know about the car.

When Chevrolet first started out with this car, they knew what they had to do.  They had to do what many auto makers are scared to do, and many manufacturers have failed to do.  Make it better.  The Corvette designers decided that they wanted to upgrade the visuals of the car, from inside to out.  To do this, they addressed upgrading the materials that made up the car.  And it seems that they did quite well on that aspect.  The new car has a carbon fiber hood and roof (which helps the 99 lb weight loss), bringing carbon fiber body panels down to the entry-level sports car.

They also wanted to upgrade the structure, tires, and suspension.  The structure of the car comes with an all new aluminum frame which makes the car 57% stiffer than the previous model.  As far as the suspension is concerned, the car will now come with things such as active handling, stability control, and performance traction management, which the Corvette will let the driver turn off if they so desire.  The new Corvette’s suspension is also told to be more driver-friendly, with improved steering stiffness.  Stiffness has improved by 5 times than the previous car, making it 500% stiffer than the C6.

The car is also aimed to simplify the sports car.  “Cars are becoming enormously complicated,” said Tadge Juechter, Executive Chief Engineer for Chevrolet Corvette.  The Corvette therefore will come equipped with a 5-mode Driver mode selector which affects 12 different attributes of the car.  These attributes include things such as exhaust sound, transmission settings, etc.

The engine, however, is where arguably most of the attention is going.  The new C7 engine will have direct-injection, cylinder deactivation, and variable valve timing.  The cylinder deactivation feature is part of the new Vette’s efforts to be more fuel efficient, running on four cylinders when in a certain rpm range.

However, the more fuel efficient engine won’t take away any of the power.  The Corvette has an estimated 450 horsepower and 450 lp-ft of torque.  This power is put on the ground via a seven-speed manual transmission, including the all-new Corvette feature of active rev-matching.

With as many followers as the Corvette already has, Chevrolet had to make sure that the iconic shape of the Corvette was not lost, although they did want to tweak it a bit.  “The new Corvette has to look like a Corvette… [but] we really wanted to make some game-changing moves on the car,” said Kirk Bennion, Exterior Design Manager for Chevrolet Corvette.

Chevrolet incorporated aerodynamics into making the car have a “far more international design,” as Ed Welburn, General Motors Vice President of Global Design, put it.  The new car has functional hood vents and quarter inlets for transmission cooling.  Chevrolet says that this is something that they learned from their experiences in motor racing, where they clearly have proven a point at Le Mans.  Chevrolet went on to say that these aerodynamics and vents are something used in racing, but normally not in street cars.

What you get from these aerodynamics and extreme attention to detail is one of the best-looking cars on the planet, possibly the best-looking Corvette of all time.  However, as always, there are critics.  The criticism is mainly concerning the back, which is understandable.  The new Corvette seems to stray from all the other models and has decided to abandon the round headlight design, and instead opt for a more squarish design.  The criticism mainly comes in the form of saying that the back looks to much like the Camaro.

The Corvette also comes with a lower roof, though it has not lost any space for the driver inside, and it also has a larger wheelbase.  On the inside, the driver is greeted with a beautiful LED display.  The seats come in two forms, which the buyer will choose from suiting his plans on how he plans to drive the new car.  The car comes with GT seats, which are built with a magnesium frame, and are suited to distance driving, but also provide a true sports car feel to them.  The other option is the Competition Sports Seat, which is more suited towards a track experience, with extra support at the back of the seat to make the lateral acceleration of a claimed 0-60 time of less than 4 seconds, a bit more comfortable.

For months, the entire world was teased by spy shots and computer animated images of what they believed, was the all-new C7.  Now, with the car revealed to the world, the next question is what will this car do?  What impact will it have on the global automotive market.  Can this car compete with the BMW’s, Audi’s, and Mercedes?  The numbers may suggest that yes, indeed it can.  But in the past, the numbers may have suggested something wonderful, but when it was actually tested, the car was not much of a competitor with these dominating automotive names.

With this car, however, Chevrolet plans to change their stance in the realm of sports cars.  They plan to bring exotic materials used in $200,000 cars and bring it down to the entry-level sports coupe.  They plan to wow, to impress, to thrill people around the world.  It certainly looks the part, and car enthusiasts around the world can’t wait to see it on the road.  #revolutionary –B.C.

The controversial rear-end of the 2014 ‘Vette.

The stunning interior of the C7 Stingray, note the carbon-fiber dash.

The brand-new Corvette engine makes a claimed 450 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque and features cylinder deactivation.


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