How Chevy pulled out the stops (and piled in the tech) for the new Corvette Stingray

2014 Corvette Stingray
The 2014 Corvette Stingray. Will it be the best – and fastest – Corvette ever?

As the anticipation mounts for our test drive of the new Chevrolet Corvette, scheduled to hit dealerships at the end of August, the Digital Trends team (like most who revel in the world of high performance cars) have been eager to gather as much information as we can on the 2014 model.

The C7 is, after all, only the third Corvette in the 60 year history of the car to carry the hallowed Stingray name.  As part of our ongoing coverage revving up for the street debut of the reincarnated American icon (and our turn at the wheel), we recently chatted with James Bell, Chevrolet’s head of consumer affairs, to hear what he thinks will give the new Corvette an edge over competitors that it’s never had before.

Clearly, when it comes to a car like the Corvette, performance is key.  What are the key technology features that will drive the excitement of being behind the wheel of the new Stingray?

James Bell Chevrolet Consumer Affairs
James Bell, Chevrolet’s head of Consumer Affairs stands next to the new 2014 Stingray.

It’s a seamless package. It’s a vehicle you could theoretically drive everyday, but yet has supercar performance.  When you compare the numbers of this car to a Porsche or a lower entry-level Ferrari, you’re right there for a portion of the price. But the fact that it’s a Chevrolet, means that if something happens to the car, there’s probably a couple of Chevy stores in your neighborhood that you can take it into. What’s exciting about this 2014 version is that it pulls together all the things you look for in a sports car and then moves the needle forward.

It’s just a really beautiful car that happens to be wrapped over a very high-performance chassis. Then, when you start looking at some of the technology and the great fuel efficiency, the fact that it can turn off four of the (eight) cylinders when you’re just cruising around town. But then when the road opens up and you can put you a little more throttle in and now you got 455 horsepower and 0 – 60 in less than four seconds and still get 29 miles per gallon the highway.

The fact that the C7 has 25 more horsepower than the previous model and even more with the sport exhaust system says a lot about the engine technology in the new model. How long have Chevy’s team of engineers been working on the Corvette’s new V8 engine?

This is a base technology that is going to be used in a lot of different engines in the GM line-up. The bones of this motor are going to be in the new Silverado pick-up truck, the new Tahoe and the Escalade. You’ll probably see it in future sedans. This motor has been in the pipeline for many years.

When it comes to horsepower and torque, how did Chevrolet go about establishing the benchmark for power in the 2014 model ‘Vette?   

“When you compare the numbers of this car to a Porsche or a lower entry level Ferrari, you’re right there for a portion of the price.”

You just look at where this market is. If a car of this nature is going to compete against the Nissan GT-R, Porsche 911 and Audi R8, then it’s got to do 0 – 60 in, well, less than four seconds. It’s got to have a top speed of up near 200 mph. We just happen to up the game by having great fuel efficiency as well.      

There’s been a lot of talk about the car’s fuel economy numbers, which is rated at 17 mpg city and 29 mpg  highway.  Did the Chevy team find that fuel efficiency is a major concern for buyers shopping in this segment?

It’s not a guiding concern like you would fine with somebody who is going to buy a Toyota Corolla or a Ford Focus. But it’s an insurance policy if you will. Maybe someone who has had a sports car in the past or any vehicle of that matter that didn’t’ have great fuel efficiency when the fuel prices went up a few years ago, they got burned. That car that they loved has suddenly become a real weight around their neck.  I think we are seeing buyers coming out today that are saying no matter what car I am looking to buy – sports car, SUV or pick-up truck – it better be best in class in fuel efficiency because I don’t want to get burned again.

2014 chevrolet corvette stingray 08
The 2014 Stingray’s Camaro-esque rear section has been the most controversial styling element. No more round taillights.

There is a lot of pressure on all the manufactures among all vehicles to raise that fuel efficiency thanks to CAFÉ regulations in the U.S. and emissions standards in Europe and Asia. The car companies can’t have any vehicle that doesn’t contribute to those new standards.   

When it comes to in-car technology for a high performance car, where exactly will the new Corvette’s in-car technology features fall in this spectrum?

It’s going to be right up there for what people expect from any new modern car. Obviously, you got the ability to integrate your phone using Chevrolet MyLink and Bluetooth, Pandora and satellite navigation. It really is right up there with the standard that you find in any car today. I think that’s a really big step up when you think about the older Corvette, the C6 generation compared to this one.   It was a bit archaic on the inside – not only from a design and material standpoint, but also from a connectivity perspective.  This is one of the reasons this car is going to be so appealing to a younger buyer because they are looking for that in their next car. It’s not just a novelty to be able to connect their phone and stream to their favorite Pandora channels. It’s a requirement.

How will the in-car technology experience of driving the new Stingray differ from that of driving a new Chevrolet Malibu with MyLink?

“If a car of this nature is going to compete against the Nissan GT-R, Porsche 911 and Audi R8, then it’s got to do 0 – 60 in well less than four seconds.”

Essentially, the MyLink system in the Corvette is similar to the systems in other Chevrolet vehicles, but the advantage of MyLink is its flexibility and upgradability and the Corvette enjoys the latest in HMI advances and refinement.

In addition to technology, what other elements will younger buyers shopping in the segment will find appealing in the new Stingray?  

It starts out with a world-class design. It’s a car that looks new, aggressive and stands out as being something special, but does it a price point that isn’t astronomical so it can become somewhat affordable to a younger buyer. The younger buyers that we are seeing in survey after survey after survey are looking for better fuel efficiency so they don’t have to look at a car like this and then somehow have to excuse themselves for not being smart to the environment. This car takes care of them there.

Overall, how do you think the Corvette will match up against other top rivals in the segment?

There is a combination of factors with this car. Number one, there is a very rabid Corvette fan base that has just been anxiously awaiting this. You have Corvette buyers that will come in and buy the next generation sight unseen just because it’s the new Corvette. But as we said earlier, we expect a lot from younger buyers as well. Maybe somebody coming out of a 911 is looking for something unique and different. I think the Corvette is going to do a great job at capturing that buyer.

Some elements of this Q&A have been edited for clarity.

What do you think of the new Corvette? Just right? Or not enough old school appeal? Tell us in comments.

Mobile

Samsung says the Galaxy A9 won’t be its ‘best kept secret’ for much longer

The new Samsung Galaxy A9 2018 is different previous models, and with good reason: Samsung's strategy is changing, and it wants to provide better features and more value on its phones that cost less than the flagship S series.
Cars

How General Motors is preparing for an electric, autonomous, connected future

How does an established automaker like General Motors adapt to new tech trends? By looking for people and solutions outside the mainstream, says Ken Kelzer, GM VP of global vehicle components and subsystems.
Cars

Tread lightly in Bollinger’s ruggedly cool electric pickup truck

New York-based Bollinger Motors has unveiled an electric pickup truck rugged enough for work or play. Named B2, it's a boxy beast with unusual specifications. It has 520 horsepower yet it can tow 7,500 pounds or haul 5,000 pounds.
Product Review

With fresh tech and a turbo V6, Ford resharpens the 2019 Edge

The 2019 Ford Edge midsize crossover gets significant refresh, including a host of new tech features and a new ST performance variant sporting a 335-horsepower, twin-turbocharged V6.
Cars

GPS units aren't dead! Our favorite models still do things your phone can't

Love hitting the open road but hate having to rely solely on your phone for getting around? Thankfully, the best in-car GPS systems will allow you to navigate and capitalize on a range of features sans your cellular network. Here are our…
Cars

Watch this driverless Range Rover tackle one of U.K.’s ‘most challenging roads’

Jaguar Land Rover just sent its autonomous Range Rover Sport vehicle onto one of the U.K.'s "most challenging road layouts," and the automaker has posted a video online showing exactly how it fared.
Product Review

The 2019 Volvo V60 proves it's still cool to drive a station wagon

With the 2019 V60, Volvo argues the station wagon segment isn't as moribund as most other automakers say it is. The company goes as far as arguing we're on the cusp of a wagon revival, and the V60 is poised to lead the charge.
Cars

A public/private autonomous driving institute blooms under the Arizona sun

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced the Institute for Automated Mobility (IAM), partnering government, academic, and private organizations to develop self-driving tech and safety standards. Intel is the first private-sector member.
Cars

Ford imagines a future without traffic lights or stop signs

Ford is using vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V) tech to allow cars to pass through intersections without stopping. The experimental "Intersection Priority Management" system basically acts as air traffic control for cars.
Cars

The supersized BMW X7 is coming with a grille you can park a 2 Series on

BMW will soon expand its lineup with a new range-topping SUV named the X7. The first-ever BMW X7 is shaping up to be the 7 Series of the SUV world in terms of size, price, and image.
Cars

Can't see all of a sudden? Our quick guide on defogging your car windows

Did you suddenly lose exterior visibility while driving because of foggy windows? Don't panic! Here's our quick guide on defogging your car windows in a safe manner while on the go, and a few steps on how to prevent them.
Product Review

Volvo’s redesigned 2019 S60 sedan is the best kind of remix

The 2019 Volvo S60 borrows almost everything from other recent Volvo models, but that’s not a problem. From its infotainment system to an available plug-in hybrid powertrain, the S60 takes the best bits from a lineup of great cars.
Cars

Carbuying can be exhausting: Here are the best used car websites to make it easier

Shopping for a used car isn't easy, especially when the salesman is looking to make a quick sale. Thankfully, there are plenty of sites aimed at the prospective buyer, whether you're looking for a sedan or a newfangled hybrid.
Cars

Are European-style self-dimming and glare-free headlights coming to the U.S.?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposes to allow adaptive LED headlights on vehicles sold in the U.S. Adaptive LEDs automatically lower headlight intensity when they detect pedestrians or oncoming vehicles.