Posted Jan 14th 2013 11:59PM
We already told you all about the Corvette Stingray in our Deep Dive feature last night, but now we've had a chance to part the massive crowds surrounding it and get up close and personal at the Chevrolet stand here on the Detroit Auto Show floor. What do we think?
Not surprisingly, the C7 has real presence. And at least without a proper street backdrop and other vehicles for scale, this new Corvette looks smaller – likely because of the more defined surfacing along the side and less-rounded appearance overall, it has a shrink-wrapped appearance (this, despite a longer wheelbase). In our book, that's a very good thing.
We expected to have some trouble wrapping our heads around the Stingray's rear end treatment, and we have – but not for the reason you might think. The taillamp array is a bold departure from tradition, but the indirect lighting and deep-mounted fixtures are compelling, and the functional vents that surround them are unique. It's the prominent center-mount exhaust outlets that we're having a bit of trouble wrapping our head around. We'd like to see what the rear end looks like with squared-off outlets that mimic the taillamps, as right now, the exhausts are the only circular element on the entire back graphic of the car, and that strikes us a bit odd. Maybe for the eventual Z06 or ZR1?
Back to the vents for a moment – there are a whole lot of them, especially on this Z51-spec model. Thankfully, they're all functional, and they add a sense of genuine purpose and menace to the design. That said, we'd like to see how the car looks in a bright paint hue like red with the vents finished in body color, as going color-keyed should smooth out the design somewhat, which some of us found a bit fussy. Perhaps it's just going to take some time to get used to versus the C6 and C5 generations, which were much simpler designs overall.
Even at a glance, the interior is leagues ahead of the outgoing model, which is no surprise. We like the new smaller-diameter wheel, the driver-oriented center stack and the passenger-side climate controls underneath the air vent is a nice touch. The fit-and-finish evident is significantly better than what we've seen in the past, but at first blush, it doesn't appear to set new standards for the class.
The most important thing about the C7 Corvette will be its performance, of course, and the new LT1 small block and the preliminary performance metrics released look spectacular, from the 450 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque to the promised 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) of under four seconds.
The C6 was already a bargain, and if Chevrolet manages to keep the C7's pricing more or less in check, this new model figures to be a smash hit.