911 versus the new Corvette Stingray
Has the American come of age, or will Germany reign supreme? Tom Ford finds out...
Posted: 07 Apr 2014
The basic feeling of both cars, back to back on the same road, on the same day, is that the Porsche feels slightly more together in every direction. From the way it delivers from the throttle, to the way the body is controlled, the feeling through the steering and the happy kick when the engine breaches 6,000rpm. The Vette requires a touch more thinking time, a little more finessing. Of course, both cars can be altered to suit - but even here the Porsche feels that bit more confident with just Sport and Sport Plus modes. The Corvette offers a five-position Drive Mode Selector (Weather, Eco, Tour, Sport and Track), which ‘optimises' no fewer than 11 of the car's systems from the information displayed on the dials to the throttle and through exhaust, diff, steering, damping, traction, launch, fuel management, as well as Performance Traction Management, which subsequently offers five further stages of torque reduction and brake intervention for track driving. It smacks of twiddling parameters simply because it's possible, rather than because it is actually preferable. The basics of the chassis - an aluminium frame some 57 per cent stiffer and 45kg lighter than the outgoing model - plus all the excellent work by engineers who know what a satisfying car feels like, don't need all the extra bells and whistles. But it's a small gripe.
Of course, there's a misconception in the UK that the Corvette is so cheap in the US that you get one free with every Happy Meal, and it's true that there is a version with the same basic bits on sale in the States for around $51k (£30k). But once you factor in the ‘drive away' price and US tax, it's not quite as cheap as a badly researched headline might have you believe. Plus, the car we get in Europe is the ‘Z51' specification, which includes stuff like an electronic limited-slip differential, dry sump, better brakes, 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. Which makes it not exactly cheap, but - for the kind of experience on offer - still something of a bargain.