This weekend while traveling for a conference Enterprise offered an amazing deal on an upgrade to a 2015 Corvette Stingray for my rental. Given the opportunity I decided it was worth taking it and getting a first hand experience with the vehicle. I am a self proclaimed Ford person, however I have had experience with Corvettes in the past as well. I've owned a 2001 Corvette, two Shelby GT500's and various Mustangs in the past. My current sports car is a 2015 Mustang GT that I will make a few comparisons to in this review. I'll try to break my thoughts into categories
Hands down, this is where Chevy has won. The curb appeal of the Corvette in my opinion has been getting better and better with each model year. The sleek lines, eye catching colors, as well as all of the matching colors behind driver & passenger make for a complete look that is very refined, yet very aggressive. The rear with quad-tipped exhaust and a very low stance is also very nice. Wheel options seem to compliment the design, the chrome spoke wheels on this one I thought were an exceptional match for the color and styling of the vehicle.
Getting In & Interior
Walking up to the car, it looked like a whole new Corvette. Getting into the car reminded me instantly that it was a Corvette. I often say that you are "wearing" a Corvette and you are driving other cars. This feeling has its advantages, but I feel that you have to contort quite a bit to properly get in and settled with the Corvette. With the top down it is much easier as you can essentially slide in and plop down, using the windshield for support. If the top is up, be prepared to bend your neck a bit funny to get in. (Keep in mind that I'm only 5'9", I cannot imagine how a 6+ foot person would get in with the top up. YMMV though.)
The interior fit and finish when you get inside is clean, although it is reminiscent of the older model Mustangs. Missing the "plush" style that Ford just recently adopted. Placement of controls though is quite nice, and the Heads-Up Display is amazing, making it almost 100% unnecessary to look at the dash when driving. The touch screen, as I have noted in other Chevy vehicles requires much additional pressure that is a bit unnerving for me, it feels like I have to almost stab THROUGH the screen for it to register my clicks. Otherwise, again, a consistent interface that does work well. The navigation when working does show up in the Heads-Up Display which is stellar.
Before I get into the detailed driving review, I wanted to specifically share my experiences with the convertible top. When driving with the top up, I find the vehicle quiet, no annoying wind-noise or anything of that nature. However, there is extreme blockage of rearward visibility on both the right and left sides. The mirrors are adequate, but I still felt uncomfortable with the view out of the car while on the interstate due to this blockage and lack of any sort of blind spot sensing system.
With the top down, at first I loved it. Open air, amazing views and while in town it isn't too bad. However, a few items that were surprising. First of all was that at 5'9" I was already "too tall" for the airflow over the windshield. This meant that the wind was hitting the top of my head and giving a bit of a buffeting feel at anything more than 45-50 MPH. Keeping my head from bouncing around after about an hour drive was a bit tiring. Lastly, the airflow around the windshield is very inconvenient. I will go ahead and apologize to the lovely people or Orlando, due to this wind I did litter on State Road 417 when the circular air movement at 75 MPH grabbed my soda bottle right out of the cup holder and propelled it at the car behind me. It happened so fast, I had no time to even think about grabbing it. I did find that running with the windows partially up I was able to control this, but lost my arm resting place on the door.
Driving Feel & Performance
Given that I was driving a rental, the vehicle I have been driving is an automatic transmission. My experience with sports cars in the past has mostly been with manual transmissions and I have to say that the experience in the Corvette was truly unusual. I'm used to the additional control when driving high-power cars of having my own selection of the gearing. This included when driving my former 662 HP Shelby and my current 435 HP Mustang GT. I mention this as some of my feedback here could be my inexperience with high-powered automatic transmissions.
From a straight line, if you put the hammer to the floor you can feel the Corvette's 455 HP unleash. The power delivery is quite smooth and the shifts are nice, firm, and quick. You know that the power is there, and it does the best to keep it moving. Wheel spin is very easy if you are not careful when rounding corners, far easier than on my Mustang. Once arriving at your top speed, say for example stopping hard acceleration at the speed limit. The Corvette will remain at VERY high revs for as much as 10-15 seconds before it moves to the cruising gear. This did make re-application of power nice, however, was very unnerving for someone that doesn't often leave revs hanging high.
In town driving and punching it from a roll is where I really lost confidence with the automatic transmission. If you were rolling at any speed the transmission would take a bit to find the "proper" gear, and when applying the power after that it would often loose power and lurch forward. I did find that after driving it for a while that I was able to plan for this a bit and play with the pedal a bit to prevent this surge by applying, releasing, and then re-applying power.
Manual shift mode was a major disappointment for me, I was hoping for something to give me that feeling of control back. The response time from when you tell it to shift up and the completion of the action is VERY slow. For example telling it to shift 1,000 RPM before red line in First, it wouldn't complete it before it hit the rev-limiter. Under hard acceleration a lead-in of almost 1,500 RPM was needed to initiate the shift, and once done the shifts were not nearly as solid as when in truly automatic mode. As such, I returned to automatic mode and enjoyed the ride.
The active exhaust was also an amazing feature. Under hard acceleration baffles open and it gets nice and noisy. Let off the gas and cruising on the freeway and it would quiet down.
I have had a great time driving the car. The little extra power was apparent in comparison to my Mustang GT. However, given that it still feels a bit cramped for me as well as the need to fall-in and climb out, I feel it doesn't have that same "Drive Everyday and Have Fun" sort of experience that I have with my Mustang. Not that it is anything necessarily negative to the Corvette, just what I look for in a Sports Car. The Corvette is sure a head turner, as I found most times I stopped places I would get asked questions about it. Just like when I am driving my SlingShot around town.