They may only have 1bhp, but that's all these angry little cars need...
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The Top Gear car review:Corvette Stingray
For:Composure, drama, noise, ability, engine. Surprising mpg when cruising
Against:It's sadly LHD-only, polarising styling
6.2 V8 2dr
Cloth-topped C7 drives, rides and handles like the coupe. Euro pricing is the only possible problem.
It’s the proper drop-top Stingray. But should you choose one over a regular targa-topped ‘Vette?
What we say:
Now here in the UK and drives better than you'd believe. Sadly, no RHD...
What is it?
The latest version of the iconic Corvette brand, this time tagged with the ‘Stingray’ badge once again: big 6.2-litre pushrod V8, rear-drive, manual ‘box and transverse, composite leaf sprung rear axle. The C7 is left-hand drive only, but sold in the UK in ‘Z51’ spec – more on that later – weighing in at £62,450, or as the Z06 range-topper, which swells the car’s standard 460bhp to, oh, just the 650bhp. With suitably race-bred upgrades throughout, we reckon it’s a steal at £87,860.
Yep, left-hand drive is still a hassle in the UK and you have to get used to looking out over a plain of bonnet, but the C7 is an equivalent size to a Porsche 911. That double-wishbone, transverse leaf rear suspension works exceptionally well, and it has the magnetorheological damping that means you can switch from track-tight to cruising at a flick of the Drive Mode Selector (Weather, Eco, Tour, Sport and Track), which ‘optimises’ no less than eleven of the car’s systems including exhaust, diff, steering, damping, traction, launch and fuel management.
Touring or Sport work best in the UK, and the compliance is fantastic. Add 50/50 weight distribution, three pedals and a slightly long-feeling manual Tremec ‘box, and you’ve got a suitably old-school package. However, with little body roll, great grip (unless provoked), linear reactions, top notch brakes and a chassis that’s remarkably friendly even if you switch the stability systems off (seriously…), it’s a great car to play in. And the noise is just sublime – pure V8 fire and brimstone from the four centrally-mounted exhausts. It’s lovely to bounce it off bits of the UK; parts of the country were made for listening to this great engine.
On the inside
It’s a bit shouty: lots of buttons and red-leather in our test car, but it feels nicely made and the double-scoop of the dash makes it feel special. It’s also still Corvette-practical with a big hatchback and luggage space, plus lots of cubbies – we particularly liked the ‘secret’ space revealed by the drop-down sat-nav screen. As for integrity, it’s not quite Porsche quality, but getting there.
Plus, the car we get in Europe is that ‘Z51’ specification, which includes good stuff like an electronic limited-slip differential, dry sump engine, better brake, diff and transmission cooling, specific dampers and springs and anti-roll bars, different gear ratios, bigger wheels, brakes and better tyres as well as the aero package that offers extra stability at speed. A virtual tick-list of sports car essentials, all ticked.
The fact that the Stingray remains LHD-only in the UK limits its appeal, but should ensure that it is also pretty rare. Residuals are likely to be weak, then level off – best advice would be to buy one because you want it, rather than for investment. You can almost guarantee exclusivity, and its strong GM build and no-nonsense integrity shouldn’t punish you with unreliability.