By Larry Lark, contributor
How do you top the 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat?
With the 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, of course.
Introduced last year, the mid-engine Corvette is the sum of everything that came before it. The Stingray has been re-imagined to bring customers new levels of performance, technology, craftsmanship and luxury.
“Corvette has always represented the pinnacle of innovation and boundary-pushing at GM. The traditional front-engine vehicle reached its limits of performance, necessitating the new layout,” said GM President Mark Reuss. “In terms of comfort and fun, it still looks and feels like a Corvette, but drives better than any vehicle in Corvette history. Customers are going to be thrilled with our focus on details and performance across the board.”
For a week, I felt like a rock star. Thumbs up everywhere, cell phones at the ready capturing photos and video, and neighbors lining up in my driveway for a ride.
The Stingray is a show-stopper parked. The exterior features a bold, futuristic expression with mid-engine exotic proportions. But it is still unmistakably Corvette. Its lean and muscular, with an athletic sculptural shape conveying a sense of motion and power from every angle. And my tester’s “Torch Red” coat of enamel didn’t hurt either.
Powered by a 6.2-liter, small-block V8 engine mated to an eight-speed, dual-clutch, automatic transmission, the combination bullets from 0-to-60 miles per hour in less than 3 seconds when equipped with the Z51 performance package. The duo generates 495 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque when equipped with performance exhaust — the most horsepower and torque for any entry Corvette.
“Our mission was to develop a new type of sports car, combining the successful attributes of Corvette with the performance and driving experience of mid-engine supercars,” said Tadge Juechter, Corvette executive chief engineer.
The new mid-engine layout gives the 2021 Stingray:
Better weight distribution, with the rear weight bias enhancing performance in a straight line and on the track.
Better responsiveness and sense of control due to driver positioning closer to the front axle, almost on top of the front wheels.
A race car-like view of the road due to lower positioning of the hood, instrument panel and steering wheel. Excellent forward sight-lines throughout the vehicle for both driver and passengers.
An enhancement of Corvette’s traditional utility strengths, with dual trunks for a total of 12.6 cubic feet of cargo volume, ideal for luggage or two sets of golf clubs.
Eight-way power GT bucket seats fit like a glove. And a new seating position places the car’s center of gravity close to the driver’s inside hip, so the car literally turns around the driver. It completely changes the perception of vehicle handling and responsiveness.
Chevy engineers found a way to preserve the Corvette’s beloved standard removable roof
panel, which can easily be stored in the rear trunk.
And the Stingray interior is just as sweet on the eyes as the exterior. Both driver and passenger are ensconced in the cockpit, with all controls oriented toward the driver. Highlights include hand-wrapped, cut-and-sewn leather components with thick press stitching, generous use of real metal, stainless steel speaker grilles with Bose Performance Series audio system, and carbon fiber trim on the GT2.
Quad, chrome-tipped exhaust tips are music to one’s ears when the start button is depressed and the Corvette Stingray springs to life with a throaty roar that means business.
It almost feels sacrilegious to mention Stingray creature comforts, but there are many worthy of note. Highlights include a premium navigation system, heated and ventilated seats, wireless charging, heads-up display, rear camera mirror, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, air conditioning with dual-zone control, and more.
Base Price: $67,295
Price As Driven: $78,765
Destination charge is included in base price. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.