Return of the Stingray: Seventh generation Corvette unveiled at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show

Just over 60 years after the Corvette began production, Chevrolet unleashed the seventh generation of its legendary sports car at a special event preceding the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. While the new car is already known as C7, Chevy decided to resurrect another appellation from its past. The new Corvette will be known as the Stingray.

“Stingray is one of the hallowed names in automotive history,” said Ed Welburn, GM vice president of global design. “We knew we couldn’t use the Stingray name unless the new car truly lived up to the legacy.” The name was used on a 1959 concept car, and the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray (two words) it inspired.

A new Corvette is always big news, but it doesn’t always involve big changes. The switch from C5 to C6 did not include much new styling, and early reports suggested that the C7’s looks would have a similarly evolutionary tone.

That obviously isn’t the case. While the classic Corvette silhouette is still there, nearly every detail of the Stingray is different from the C6. The grille is wider, the headlights are more streamlined (and feature the now-obligatory LED accents), and the whole car is covered in vents and muscular styling elements.

At the back, nearly half of the rear end is blacked out, and the familiar round taillights have been replaced by square ones. Adding to the intimidation factor are quad tailpipes.

The 2014 Stingray definitely makes a statement, but only time will tell if it becomes a classic like the previous bearers of that name. In the meantime, it’s sure to start a few arguments among Corvette enthusiasts.

One thing that’s hard to argue with is the new 6.2-liter LT1 V8. Chevy says the 2014 Stingray is the most powerful standard Corvette ever. Out of the box, it comes with 450 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque.

According to Chevy, that should be enough to get the Stingray from 0 to 60 mph in “less than four seconds,” allow it to pull more than 1g of lateral acceleration in cornering, and exceed the current car’s 26 mpg highway fuel economy rating.

Helping the V8 is a new seven-speed manual transmission with Active Rev Matching, which blips the throttle for smoother shifts. This is similar in principle to the SynchroRev Match system in the Nissan 370Z. There’s also a Drive Mode Selector that adjusts 12 vehicle parameters to suit different conditions.

The 2014 Stingray has also lost weight. The hood and removable roof panel are now carbon fiber, and there are new carbon-nano composite underbody panels, while the fenders remain composite. Standard 2014 Corvettes will also benefit from an aluminum frame, previously reserved for Z06 and ZR1 performance models.

Interior design has never been the Corvette’s strong suit, but the 2014 has a few features that should at least attract attention at the local drive-in. There’s plenty of carbon fiber, a digital gauge cluster, and an eight-inch infotainment screen.

The cabin’s layout vaguely resembles the twin cockpit design of the original Sting Ray and, perhaps taking a page from rival SRT Viper, Corvette designers added a grab handle on the center console for scared passengers.

The 2014 Corvette Stingray goes on sale in the third quarter of 2013. Pricing will be announced closer to the car’s on-sale date.

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