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Detroit show: GM revives Stingray name for Corvette

Sting in the tail: The new Chevrolet Corvette Stingray’s styling gets increasingly angular towards the back of the car.

All-new Chevrolet Corvette ‘lives up to the legacy’ of hallowed 1963 Stingray name


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14 Jan 2013

CHEVROLET has referenced Corvette history by reviving the Stingray nameplate for its new-generation supercar, which will take its first public bow at the Detroit motor show this week ahead of a third-quarter United States showroom debut.

GM Holden external communications director Craig Cheetham confirmed to GoAuto that, again, Australia is “highly unlikely” to receive the new Corvette – apart from the usual handful of grey imports – and was unaware of any plans to produce the car in right-hand drive.

Revealed in full via a set of official photos for the first time as General Motors gets ready for the grand unveiling, the new Corvette will have the most powerful standard engine in the model’s history – yet is also expected to be the most fuel-efficient.

The beefed-up engine is combined with lighter weight, increased structural rigidity, race-bred aerodynamics and plenty of on-board technology.

General Motors vice president of global design Ed Welburn said this all adds up to a car that lives up to the legacy of Chevrolet’s iconic 1963 Corvette Sting Ray.

“Stingray is one of the hallowed names in automotive history,” he said.

“We knew we couldn’t use the Stingray name unless the new car truly lived up to the legacy. The result is a new Corvette Stingray that breaks from tradition, while remaining instantly recognisable as a Corvette the world over.”

The new 335kW/610Nm 6.2-litre V8 engine maintains the push-rod valve actuation system typical of Chevy ‘small block’ engines but combines direct injection, cylinder deactivation, continuously variable valve timing and an “advanced combustion system” to produce more power while reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

This potent powerplant is odds-on to find its way under the bonnet of future HSV products in what could be a swansong for the home-grown muscle-car range if the Holden Commodore is discontinued as expected when the upcoming VF’s lifecycle is over toward the end of this decade.

GM claims the new engine will improve on the old Corvette’s official fuel consumption figure of 9.0 litres per 100 kilometres.

But the Corvette is all about going fast, capable of generating more than 1g in corners and 0-100km/h in less than four seconds – although no top speed has yet been announced.

Like the current 901-series Porsche 911, the Corvette will come with a seven-speed manual transmission (a six-speed automatic with paddle-shifters is optional).

Chevrolet has fitted the manual gearbox with an automatic rev-matching system, activated by a steering wheel-mounted paddle, that anticipates gear selection and blips the throttle to help make seamless changes, and the Corvette maintains its transaxle layout, contributing to 50:50 weight distribution.

Aggressive new exterior styling becomes more angular towards the Corvette’s rear and is claimed to be “as functional as it is elegant”, with each line, intake, vent and surface “optimised to enhance the car’s overall performance”.

Stingray-shaped badges are applied to the car’s flanks beside the gill-like vents placed behind the front wheel-arches.

The bonnet and removable roof panel are made from carbon-fibre, while the mudguards, doors, rear quarter panels and tailgate are of sheet-moulded composite compounds. Carbon-nano composite is used for underbody panels, saving a total of 17kg.

Under the lightweight skin is a new aluminium frame – now built in-house at GM’s refurbished Bowling Green facility in Kentucky – that is said to be 57 per cent stiffer and 45kg lighter than the outgoing model’s steel frame.

New hollow-cast aluminium front and rear cradles are 25 per cent lighter and 20 per cent stiffer than the previous solid-metal items.

It all adds up to a power-to-weight ratio claimed to be better than that of a Porsche 911 Carrera or Audi A8 and a car that is more agile and provides a “more direct, more connected driving feel”.

Reduced weight means reduced inertia and in theory, reduced stopping distances, and Chevrolet has made four-piston Brembo brake callipers standard, clamping down on 320mm front rotors and 338mm rear rotors.

The result is a 35 per cent increase in swept braking area and stopping distances reduced by nine per cent.

Real aluminium and (optional) carbon-fibre trim make an appearance in the hi-tech, more luxurious new interior, which features two eight-inch colour screens, one of which is used to create a configurable digital instrument panel similar to Chevrolet’s Volt range-extender EV.

A colour head-up display is also fitted to the wraparound cockpit, which features a smaller steering wheel, new lightweight magnesium-framed seats – with a choice of comfort-oriented or heavily bolstered sports designs – and is finished with premium materials like contrast-stitched Nappa leather and micro-suede.

Thoughtful touches include a passenger grab handle on the centre console and soft-touch materials on the edge of the centre console “where the driver naturally braces during high-load cornering”.

A rotary Driver Mode Selector knob on the centre console provides five settings that affect up to 12 vehicle parameters.

These comprise the digital instrument panel, throttle response, transmission shift points and sharpness (auto only), cylinder deactivation, exhaust mode (active exhaust only), electronic limited-slip differential (Z51 Performance Package only), steering, adaptive dampers, launch control, stability control, traction control and traction management.

The track-ready Z51 comes with close-ratio transmissions, dry-sump engine lubrication, larger alloy wheels, uprated Bilstein dampers, an electronic limited-slip differential, cooling, brake, transmission and differential cooling, and upgraded brakes with larger, slotted rotors and a unique aerodynamic package.

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