Saturday Road Test – Hang On!!!

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Corvette Stingray

Everything You Expected

First Drive

By Ron Amadon

BOYDS, Md. – So much in life, it seems on occasion, doesn’t live up to one’s expectations.

Perhaps we expect too much, or the product in question has been so diluted that it is living strictly on reputation.

Fortunately, there are still instances where the product meets legendary expectations. Fear not lovers of the automobile – the Corvette still fits that description.

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Breathes there a human who has not come down with an instant case of auto lust as a Stingray passes them by?

Even though my first exposure was a new black convertible way back in 1958, and later a white ’63 split window, I still eagerly look forward to climbing behind the wheel.

And there I was ensconced in a brilliant blue coupe at a “first drive” event backed by a local group of auto writers and industry professionals.

While one can outfit a Corvette with the high performance 6.2-liter, 650 horsepower V8 with 650 lb-ft of torque, those who are unlikely to take their car out to the track every weekend might want to look to the more base models. It’s not like you are suddenly downgrading to a turbo four with a four speed manual!

Instead, there is a 6.2-liter V8 with 455 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 460 lb-ft of torque at 4,600 rpm or check the performance exhaust system and up those figures to 460 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque with a redline at 6,600 rpm.

The first drive Stingray had the seven speed manual transmission with short throws and rev matching that enhanced the driving experience. “Rumble, growl, rumble growl,” from the butterfly valves in the exhaust – I love it!

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For those who will drive their Corvette in rush hour traffic, an eight speed automatic with paddle shifts is available.

Z51 equipped models will deliver a pulse quickening 3.8 second run to 60 with the stick, yet the automatic is one-tenth of a second quicker, Chevy claims. There are three trim levels, 1LT, 2LT and 3LT.

Because the temperature was nearing 80 on this rare autumn day the carbon fiber roof panel, standard on all coupes, was removed for the full open air experience. A transparent roof panel is available.

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A nice interior touch was the right sized, leather clad, flat bottomed 14.1-inch diameter steering wheel that carries over to 2016 models.

Also carried over is the Performance Data Recorder, part of navi system, that will give you a read out on track speed, rpm, g-force, lap time and more. A front mounted camera will also record the event and the video can be downloaded for display and boasting later over brews with friends.

For me, handling on some “S” curve side roads was impeccable – what else would you expect? It was so good, I simply had to go back and try it a second time. (So would you!)

Seldom did I get much above fourth gear on my drive such is the amount of satisfying torque available. Slam the right pedal to the floor, and your bod is shoved immediately (!) into the seat, your hair stands on end, and you are thrust forward with great alacrity – a heart pounding, soul enriching experience not unlike the jet pilot who made a very steep, full throttle ascent out of an air base in Spain to escape a massive thunderstorm back in my Air Force days. It was a bit faster than Christopher Columbus’ departure.

When all was said and done, and the Stingray was back at the starting point, I thought, if this car does not rattle your bones and nervous system, one’s level of consciousness needs to be immediately checked.

So hats off to Chevrolet and GM for their willingness to continue the Corvette tradition of performance, handling and comfort, at a world class standard and delivered at an affordable price. I think that somewhere, Zora Arkus-Duntov is smiling.

For 2016, the coupe carries a starting price of $56,395 and the convertible has an MSRP of $60,395.

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