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Corvette Stingray wows at Detroit auto show (+video)

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It's finally here, folks, and it looks great. But will the handling and performance of the seventh-generation 2014 ChevroletCorvette, plus the improved interior and redesigned exterior, make for a substantial upgrade over the outgoing--and very capable--car?

The shape of the C7, as well as its return to the Stingray sub-title, hint at the past of the Corvette, bringing the best of its formative years into modern focus. Free of any played-out retro feel, while paying homage to its own history, the 2014 Corvette has managed a subtle balance--with not-so-subtle design cues.

CLICK HERE FOR LIVE PHOTOS OF THE 2014 CHEVROLET CORVETTE STINGRAY

 
The round tail lights are gone, replaced with a set that's more reminiscent of the Camaro; the hood is vented and finned. The rear fenders flow into the rear bumper with almost supercar-like vertical details.

There's a lot going on all over the car--and fortunately, most of it works. The profile still looks a lot like the last-generation C6 Corvette, though the rear of the car is much more of a fastback shape, and wit the sum of the new details, the result is a completely new look. 

Materials have been significantly upgraded over the previous Corvette, which basically required an upgrade to the optional leather package to be adequate. Now, the standard package is much more detailed, and build quality is noticeably improved--leather-wrapped surfaces and high-quality plastics abound.

An advanced instrument cluster provides a high-tech feel for the driver's view, and improvements to the technology and infotainment features bring the Corvette fully into the modern era, placing it on equal footing with rivals from Germany and Japan, as well as its American competition, theSRT Viper.

A large and thoroughly modern infotainment display is mounted in the driver-focused center stack, the instrument panel has its own display, and the angular, stylized look of the exterior is reflected in the shapes of the dash, the controls, and other aspects of the cabin. A multi-function steering wheel puts the controls at the driver's finger tips, without getting in the way of the thick, sculpted rim.

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Under the hood of this Corvette Stingray launch model is the 6.2-liter LT1 V-8 enginewe've known about for several months now: at a base of 450 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque, even the "standard" Corvette will be a serious contender for fast lap times; stepping up the range just adds to the dynamic impact.

This makes it the most capable standard model ever, able to accelerate from 0-60 in less than four seconds and achieve more than 1 g in cornering grip (when equipped with its Z51 Performance Package). It is also expected to be the most fuel-efficient Corvette, exceeding the EPA-estimated 26 mpg of the current model. This is partially thanks to a seven-speed manual transmission, just like the one in the latestPorsche 911, but also cylinder-deactivation technology. A paddle-shifted six-speed automatic is also offered.

The Z51 Performance Package is designed for track enthusiasts and includes an electronic limited-slip differential, dry-sump oiling system, integral brake, differential and transmission cooling, suspension upgrades, as well as a unique aero package that’s said to further improve high-speed stability.

Under the pretty sheet metal, the all-new Corvette Stingray shares only two parts with the previous generation Corvette. It incorporates an all-new steel and aluminum frame structure and chassis, the aforementioned new powertrain, as well as completely new exterior and interior designs.

Dimensionally, the new car’s wheelbase is approximately an inch longer than the previous generation, with front and rear tracks that are almost an inch wider. At the same time the turning radius is decreased by approximately two feet for greater maneuverability in tight turns.

Lightweight construction techniques include the use of carbon fiber for the hood and removable--yes, removable--roof panel; other composites on the fenders, doors and rear quarter panels; and carbon-nano composite for the underbody panels, all of which add up to a weight saving of 37 pounds over the already light C6. Chevy hasn’t mentioned a curb weight but says the car has an ideal 50/50 weight balance and a world-class power-to-weight ratio.

The Corvette Stingray rides on new 18x8.5-inch front and 19x10-inch rear wheels, while models with the Z51 Performance Package roll on 19x8.5-inch front and 20x10-inch rear forged aluminum wheels. New Michelin Pilot Super Sport run-flat tires developed specifically for this seventh-generation Corvette have also been fitted. The standard brake package are Brembo four-piston calipers and steel discs. Upgrading to the Z51 Performance Package adds bigger slotted discs.

The car features standard 35 mm-piston Bilstein monotube shocks that connect to dual-path aluminum shock mounts that separate the shock rod and shock body load paths. The Z51 Performance Package adds 45 mm-piston Bilstein dampers and is available with the latest version of GM’s Magnetic Ride Control adjustable dampers. Like most new cars, the Corvette Stingray also gets electric power steering.

At the core of the Corvette Stingray’s driver-focused technologies is the cockpit-mounted Driver Mode Selector dial on the dash, which allows drivers to optimize the car for their driving preference and road conditions via five settings: Weather, Eco, Tour, Sport and Track.

Several changes are made with the selection of each mode, including the digital cluster’s gauge configuration; the throttle response; shift times (for the automatic); exhaust valve adjustment; the rate of slip for the electronic differential (for the Z51 pack); and severity of the steering speed, suspension, traction control and the  Performance Traction Management (adjusts torque and brake stability). There is also a new Launch Control setting available with either manual or automatic ‘Vettes.

The Corvette Stingray also gets the latest Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system, which is accessible via two eight-inch displays. The screen in the center stack features touch-screen capability with gesture recognition and can be lowered to reveal a hidden storage that includes a USB input for device charging or uploads.

All Corvette trims get a fully-wrapped interior, where every surface is covered with premium, soft-touch materials. Available materials, depending on the trim level, include Napa leather, aluminum, carbon fiber and micro-suede. Customers also have two seating choices: a regular GT seat and a Competition Sport seat with more aggressive side bolstering for greater support on the track.

We'll be driving the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray soon--look forward to our first drive report as well as an in-depth review from our sister site The Car Connection in the near future. The previous Corvette has been on the market for nearly nine years now, and while it still contends with the world's best on performance and value marks, the new car looks set to raise the bar.

Anyone hoping to test one for them self will have to wait until the car's showroom debut in the third quarter of 2013. 

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