The 2014 Corvette is here, and we were lucky enough to participate in Chevrolet's exclusive (if an event for thousands can be called exclusive) 1-13-13 unveiling. As expected, the car is colossal, stupendous, dramatic and awe-inspiring. At the same time, we predict it will generate some degree of controversy among Corvette fans, observers of the auto industry and the general public. This is, after all 2013. Could we expect anything less than controversy about nearly everything? Join us now as we walk you through the Top 10 Reasons to Love the 2014 Corvette.
Reason #1: The Biggest Small-Block Yet
No, its external dimensions aren't big; in fact its low height is one of the major benefits of sticking to an overhead-valve drivetrain rather than going to a trendy dual overhead-cam setup. But the 2014 Corvette's 6.2-liter LT1 V8 offers 376 cubic inches of displacement, and those 6.2 liters are put to exceptionally good use. Let no one say this OHV engine isn't high-tech. It incorporates direct injection, continuously variable valve timing and Active Fuel Management in creating highly efficient bang for the buck.
Reason #2: 450 (Standard) Horsepower
The very first Corvette (1953) didn't have much power, but Chevrolet soon cured that, and Corvette has been synonymous with sheer muscle ever since. With 450 horsepower on tap, the 2014 Corvette can blast from zero to 60 miles per hour in under four seconds, and its (unannounced) top speed could nudge 200 mph. But the 2014 Corvette's engine isn't just powerful; it's also smart, with the direct injection and variable valve timing helping the sports car achieve better than 26 mpg combined. (Just how much better, Chevy isn't ready to tell us yet.)
Reason #3: 450 lb-ft of Torque
Corvettes have always been among the easiest performance cars to drive fast. The reason: tons of torque, which has always been the friend of the driver who finds himself a gear too high. The 2014 Corvette has taken torque to the extreme, and Corvette engineers have applied rich, buttery helpings of torque across the rev band. A new cylinder head design complemented by specially designed pistons aids the small block's ability to pump up the torque, while computerized engine management adds the final piece of the puzzle.
Reason #4: Exotic Materials Where They Count
Sure, real carbon fiber on the dash of a sports car looks cool, but we think carbon fiber is much cooler when it offers significant functional advantages. And that's exactly what it does in the 2014 Corvette. Both the hood and removable roof panel are fashioned of low-weight carbon fiber, and sheet molded compound (thank you, Saturn) is used for fenders, doors and rear quarter panels. Some underbody panels are carbon-nano. And yes, the dash can include real carbon fiber, too, but we'll get to that in a minute.
Reason #5: Automated Driver Technologies
We've come to accept the fact that the most advanced cars we drive today are significantly smarter than we are. And the newest Corvette will quickly vault right to the head of the class. The most visible example of this braininess is the Driver Mode Selector, which enables the driver to choose the type of driving he or she wants to engage in, letting the car then set a wide variety of parameters to optimize that experience. The five settings include Weather, Tour, Sport, Track and Eco, and when one is selected it induces changes in - are you ready for this? - the gauge cluster, throttle control, automatic transmission shift points (if so equipped), fuel management, active exhaust system, electronic limited-slip differential, steering, magnetic ride control, launch control, stability control, traction control and traction management.
Reason #6: Lights that Hypnotize
Light-Emitting Diodes seem to be everywhere these days, and designers of the Corvette went to great lengths to use exterior lighting to add to the car's overall cool factor without making it look like Saturday night on the Las Vegas Strip. Indirect white LEDs are used as trick daytime running lamps on the Vette's sexy front end, and they are complemented by HID projector headlamps in black-chrome housings. If that's not enough, edge-lit amber LEDs are used as turn indicators. The rear-end lighting is just as cool, but might add a bit of controversy since the sculpted lenses have more than a passing resemblance to the taillights on the Camaro, albeit with an upscale lilt.
Reason #7: 7-Speed Manual Transmission
The car world is now filled with so many excellent dual-clutch manual-automatic transmissions that the art of the heel-and-toe is going the way of the foxtrot, and now the 2014 puts another dagger in the heel-toe with an all-new seven-speed manual transmission that features integral rev-matching. Too smart to be called simply a "gearbox," the new manual senses what gear you will probably select next and tailors the engine revs to be ready for its engagement.
Reason #8: Interior for a Millionaire Fighter Pilot
When designers talk about purposeful interiors they always pull out the fighter-plane analogy. Now, we've never flown a fighter plane, but we have had the opportunity to sit in a few fighter-plane cockpits, and while they may be purposeful, they are also bafflingly complex and about as accommodating as the chairs in a fast food restaurant. Not so with the Corvette. Everything about it is designed to enhance the business of driving, but it features rich materials like leather, aluminum and, yes, carbon fiber. The two 8-inch screens and the color head-up display are all configurable to suit your tastes. And you can play the music that you like on the available 10-speaker audio system with Chevy MyLink. We also think a fighter pilot of the Top Gun type might actually kill to get a pilot's seat like the Corvette's new driver's seat.
Reason #9: Stingray Heritage
Yes, this is a Corvette Stingray, and the fabled Stingray name is now accompanied by a tasteful re-working of the Stingray badge. Equally important, the 2014 Corvette picks up styling fillips from the Stingray concept car and the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray. The front and rear fender bulges of the new car pay honest homage to its predecessors, for example. At the same time the newest Stingray isn't afraid to go its own way, especially in its rear-end design. Overall, there is a lot going on in the design, yet it is unmistakably a Corvette.
Reason #10: Home on the Track
The Corvette has always been one of a tiny handful of Americans cars that feel as much at home on the track as they do on the highway. Right out of the box the newest Corvette will continue the tradition while enhancing it. Starting with its stiffer, yet lighter, aluminum frame, the Corvette is designed to deliver precise, predictable handling even at ridiculously high speeds. If you are in a mood to go full-on racer, choose the Z51 performance pack that includes an electronic limited-slip differential, dry-sump oiling system, coolers for brakes, differential and transmission plus an aero package that improves high-speed stability.
If you don't love it yet, just make sure to give it a good look in the gallery above.