Monday, December 8, 2014


No sports car should have chrome wheels.The 2015 Chevrolet Corvette builds on the new Stingray released for the 2014 model year with an expanded lineup that will include the Corvette Z06 supercar in both coupe and convertible forms. The standard Stingray continues on as well, bringing its own balance of value, performance, and style to the mix. 

We already drove a gaggle of Corvettes equipped with the new eight-speed, dubbed 8L90, and came away impressed. Well, we were mostly impressed; the cheap-feeling plastic steering-wheel shift paddles threaten to drag down the experience. The shift lever doesn’t offer a manual-shift gate, so choosing your own gears requires use of these flimsy actuators. Chevy needs to upgrade the pieces yesterday, lest people dismiss the new eight-speed outright on its regrettable visual and tactile deficiencies.Fortunately, everything else about the $1725 transmission is better executed. We recorded the same 3.7-second 0-to-60-mph time in this convertible as we did in a 2014 model with the six-speed automatic; by 80 mph, the newer Vette begins to pull away, and by 150 mph, it edges out a 0.7-second lead thanks at least partly to quicker shift times. The transmission’s logic and broad ratio spread elevate the self-shifting Corvette experience toward Porsche PDK dual-clutch-automatic levels of satisfaction. Weather, Eco, Tour (default), Sport, and Track modes offer drivers a spectrum of behaviors. In Track, the 460-hp V-8’s lightning-quick throttle response and the electrically boosted steering’s heightened alertness blend wonderfully with the transmission’s rev-matched downshifts and redline upshifts. Clear the red mist by switching to Tour or Eco, and the 8L90 works with a preponderance of civility.

The EPA says that while the 2015 Vette with the eight-speed nets the same 16-mpg rating in the city cycle as the 2014 model, the highway number rises by 1 mpg to 29. This test car’s participation in our brutal 10Best testing stifled fuel economy to a dismal 12 mpg, but we’re confident that with normal use, it could better the 18 mpg we recorded with the old transmission.Transmission aside, the quintessential Corvette experience remains the same. We’d banish our test car’s Floridian retiree–grade interior and exterior color combo to the same purgatory Chevy sent the old automatic. The Laguna Blue paint isn’t bad, but the gray top is, and the slate-gray leathers and plastics manage to cheapen the look of the latest Stingray’s massively improved interior. It undermines the appeal of our test car’s $9450 3LT package with its attendant power seats with memory, navigation, sueded upper-cabin trim, leather-wrapped dash and door panels, heated and ventilated seats, a head-up display, and Chevy’s cool Performance Data Recorder. Our 8L90 muse also came with the $5000 high-performance Z51 package (performance brakes and suspension, dry-sump engine lubrication, 19-inch front and 20-inch rear tires, an electronic limited-slip differential, and differential and transmission coolers), which now includes the Vette’s available sports exhaust.

Toss in a $995 interior carbon-fiber dress-up package and the chrome-finished wheels ($1995), as well as necessary options such as the $2495 Competition seats (if you can fit in them), the $1795 Magnetic Ride Control adaptive suspension dampers, the $995 blue paint, and the $1725 automatic trans, and our Stingray’s sticker came to $84,840. That loaded price (bizarre color choices and all) still adds up to $16,435 less than what Porsche charges for a base 2015 911 Carrera cabriolet with the PDK dual-clutch automatic and zero options

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