27. August 2014
Apparently, if you own a Corvette, this is what you don’t want to see:
These people are valets. And as anyone who has ever seen “Ferris Buehler’s Day Off” knows, leaving your car with a valet, be it a Corvette or a Ferrari, can have some untoward consequences. Which explains why Chevrolet has recently launched “Valet Mode with Performance Data Recorder” for the Corvette, which allows drivers to lock the interior storage, disable the infotainment system and record video, audio and vehicle data when it is active.
“Think of it as a baby monitor for your car,” said Harlan Charles, Corvette product manager. “Anyone who has felt apprehension about handing over their keys will appreciate the peace of mind of knowing exactly what happened while their baby was out of sight.”
While a valet racking up some hard miles on a Corvette is certainly a possibility, my week with a Corvette was one where I had the sense that even the slightest infraction would lead to expensive and legal consequences because there is one thing about that car that is unlike any I’ve had the time to spend time with:
Everyone looks at the Corvette. I mean everyone.
I stopped at a gas station to fill it up. A guy in a Dodge Ram came over and started talking to me about the ‘Vette, then asked if I might have any idea why his HEMI was idling rough. It was as though my proximity to the ‘Vette provided me with mystical mechanical powers.
I stopped at a rest stop on I-75 about halfway up the Michigan mitten. When I was walking back to the vehicle there were two older guys who were standing by the rear right quarter panel talking with some animation about the car. They didn’t say a word to me, but as I pulled away, they both gave me thumbs-up.
As I continued up I-75 I fortunately found myself in a bit of congested, slow-moving traffic because there was a police officer, sitting in his Crown Vic, hidden in a copse of trees. I could see his head following the car’s progress as I drove (legally) by.
I drew looks from young women who were walking down Front Street in Traverse City—but later realized that the car was receiving the looks.
All of which is to say that while using the 720-p high-definition camera and audio recorder is useful for recording one’s on-track adventures, the Corvette is such a striking car on public roads that anyone trying anything out of sorts with one’s ‘Vette is someone who is going to garner more attention than he or she might have bargained for.
Even though the car has been out there for about a year (the first vehicles were shipped to dealers from the Bowling Green Assembly Plant on September 18, 2013), the design remains sufficiently striking that it still demands attention.
The Corvette in question is the convertible version.
As you may know, when you have a car that has a folding top, the top has to fold somewhere. And that somewhere is generally where you might otherwise have trunk space.
The Corvette has style, sleekness and sexiness in spades.
What it doesn’t have a great deal of also begins with “S”: space.
The cargo volume for the Corvette Convertible is 10-cubic feet.
To put that into some sort of perspective: the Chevy Spark is a minicar. It is the smallest Chevy you can buy. While it is a hatchback—which the Corvette certainly isn’t—it has more cargo capacity than the ‘Vette: 11.4-cubic feet behind the rear seat. No, no one is going to cross shop a Corvette and a Spark. This example is simply to provide a sense of how the trunk in the Corvette Convertible is essentially a slot into which I’m guessing was designed to accommodate a set of golf clubs.
And it should be pointed out that the interior is similarly cargo-challenged.
Again: I get it. No one buys a Corvette to have storage cubbies in abundance. There are things like minivans for that.
But it did occur to me that while the car is certainly comfortable enough to be a daily driver, one would be challenged to have it as one’s only car.
In effect, it brought to mind an argument on behalf of full electric vehicles (EVs). Take the aforementioned Spark. It is available as an EV. It has a range of 82 miles. Which means that it isn’t the car that you would drive from Plymouth to Traverse City unless you wanted to dedicate a good chunk of a week getting there. You need a second car.
Lots of EV naysayers complain about the impracticality of EVs due to their limited range (unless, of course, that EV is a Tesla Model S, then they complain about Elon Musk instead).
Did you ever hear someone complain about the impracticality of a Corvette?
I haven’t, either.
There is one aspect of this Corvette that I found not only practical, but somewhat amazing:
The fuel economy.
I averaged just over 29 miles per gallon driving up to Traverse City, around Traverse City, then back to Plymouth.
There was no hypermiling involved here, no attempt to have the best-ever mileage ever achieved in a Corvette.
I didn’t even have the drive mode set to “Eco.”
Mind you, this is a car with 455 hp. You could take five Spark engines (84 hp each) and not get to 455. (OK, I am done with Spark references.)
Yet thanks to some clever engineering like “Active Fuel Management” (a.k.a., shutting off cylinders when you don’t need them working), direct injection, and variable valve timing, there is that big 6.2-liter V8, running with astonishing efficiency. (The seven-speed manual helped, too.)
29 mpg. Yes, that number is on the sticker. But that number is real.
Speaking of numbers, know that the base MSRP for the convertible is $58,800, which is, vis-à-vis its speed and ride and handling characteristics, something of a bargain. The car that I happened to drive had $10,180 worth of options (a car that I won’t cite has a starting MSRP of $12,995—the whole car), everything ranging from premium Bose audio to a heads-up display (quite useful in this application, I must say, when you really want to keep your eyes on the road) to magnetic ride control (really a smooth ride along some of Michigan’s underfunded byways) to red brake calipers (nicely offsetting the Arctic White exterior and accentuating the Adrenaline Red interior).
All good stuff. So worth it. (C’mon: If you’re going to buy a Corvette, how many are you likely ever to buy? Might as well go all in.)
Chevrolet’s sister division Cadillac once labeled itself as “Standard of the World.”
But when you run the numbers—performance and price—it is clear that the Corvette Stingray can clearly carry that moniker.
I wonder whatever happened to Mia Sara. . . .
Engine: 6.2-liter, direct-injected V8 with variable valve timing
Horsepower: 455 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 460 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm
Materials: Aluminum block and heads
Transmission: Seven-speed manual with active rev matching
Steering: Variable-ratio rack-and-pinion w/electric power assist
Wheelbase: 106.3 in.
Length: 176.9 in.
Width: 73.9 in.
Height: 48.6 in.
Seating capacity: 2
Curb weight: 3,362 lb.
EPA: mpg city/highway/combined: 17/29/21 mpg