From the first spy photos to seeing it in person to pushing the start button, I have never been disappointed by the all-new 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Coupe. To be clear, I am a fan.
Chevrolet made the radical decision to have the 2021 Corvette, or C8 as aficionados call it, become a mid-engine sports car, abandoning the front engine design that began when the first Corvette rolled off the line in Flint, Michigan, on June 30, 1953. The spirit of driving and owning a Corvette will continue to be a high point in the life of many car enthusiasts.
Powerful and Responsive
Chevrolet engineers have created a Corvette that is a joy to drive, whether around town, on a cross country road trip or at the track. The mid-engine design is key to the balance you feel when taking corners at different speeds, in different gears and with different apexes, as you experiment to squeeze-out every bit of driving enjoyment.
The 6.2-liter V8 has direct injection with active fuel management, using cylinder deactivation to maximize fuel efficiency. Premium fuel is required to get the full 490 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. If you order the performance exhaust or go for the Z51 package, those numbers go up to 495 and 470. Will you notice the extra horsepower and torque–maybe. But the base engine turning 0-60 runs in a quick 2.9 seconds with a top speed of 194 mph are plenty fast for just about everyone. The engine sound is wonderful, especially when under hard acceleration.
Clean Fleet Report’s Stingray came with the eight-speed dual-clutch automatic, which is the only transmission offered. Yes, that means a manual is a thing of the past. But not to worry because the third pedal won’t be missed as the automatic, with a manual mode and paddle shifters, is smooth with quick gear shifts. Except for Z-Mode, which is activated by a separate button, the leather-covered knob on the center console will let you choose from driver-selectable drive modes of Tour, Weather, Sport, Track and My-Mode. This last mode is the first time Corvette drivers can personalize onboard settings based on their driving style.
The EPA rates the 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray fuel economy at 15 city/27 highway/19 combined. In 387 miles driving through Southern California, Clean Fleet Report averaged 20.6 mpg, but in two 100-mile highway runs with the cruise control set at 65 mph, we achieved 30.1 mpg. So while most owners will not be trying to eke-out every last mile from a drop of fuel, it is possible, when on a long road trip and with an easy right foot, to crack 30 mpg. Fuel economy numbers reported by Clean Fleet Report are non-scientific and represent the reviewer’s driving experience. Your numbers may differ.
There is no comparing the mid-engine Corvette with other mainstream two-seat sports cars. The front-wheel drive Mazda MX-5 Miata and Hyundai Veloster R-Spec are wonderful, handle great and are zippy, but are not in the same conversation with the much larger, rear-wheel drive, more powerful and heavier Corvette Stingray. The driving skills needed for the shift from front to rear-wheel drive are mitigated by a stiff chassis with the optional magnetic ride control, which softened bumps while also planting the Corvette on uneven and not-so-smooth corners.
The redesign with the mid-engine placement has changed the Corvette into a direct competitor to far more expensive European two seat sports cars.
Corner handling was superb with the mid-engine placement resulting in near perfect balance. It was easy to toss around without fear of losing grip, delivering the road feel necessary to carve corners at multiples of the posted speed limit.
Mounted on flash-painted aluminum wheels with a machined edge, the Michelin Pilot Sport tires are staggered–245/35ZR19 up front and 305/30ZR20 in the rear. The limited-slip rear end, stability control and all-speed traction control provided confidence when tossing around the 3,366-pound car. The electric power steering has a natural feel, with good road feedback that can make the Corvette Stingray your everyday driver.
Stopping was excellent, strong and consistent with Brembo slotted brake rotors (12.6-inch front/13.3-inch rear) that were e-boost power-assisted, part of the anti-lock brake system.
For more fun and to win a few bar bets, the Performance Data Recorder (PDR) allows you to record every aspect of your driving, including real-time audio and video. The PDR lets you relive, and prove, your driving experience and analyze every turn. An added benefit is being able to record what the valet is doing with your car.
Design Details: Exterior
Saying the 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is a coupe is not telling the complete story. With a twist of a couple latches off comes the removable carbon fiber roof, letting in the open air. The roof panel cleverly stores in the rear trunk, but doing so reduces your cargo area. However, the Corvette has a front trunk/frunk that can handle an overnight bag.
The forward-leaning look is aggressive, but not threatening. The sleek, subtle, and crisp lines convey that assertive nature of this very tamable sports car. The yellow painted brake calipers shouted-out through the gloss black wheels, and looked great against our Corvette painted in Accelerate Yellow. There couldn’t be a better color name for this car.
The scoops on the front, sides and rear are functional. With airflow and aerodynamics being a pacing item with designers, the result is a 0.29 coefficient of drag (Cd) to aid slipping through the wind.
The wide and low stance is enhanced by the LED head lights and daytime running lights. Set high on the fenders, the lights blend into the long carbon fiber hood, which leads to a sweptback windshield and onto the removable roof. The LED tail lights sit wide above the two sets of dual chrome exhaust tips, making for an almost menacing look. A very cool feature that will draw a crowd at any car show is the rear hatch window that allows a peek at the 6.2L V8. With the optional front lift feature, there was no scraping of the front spoiler when going over speed bumps or negotiating driveways.
Design Details: Interior
Chevrolet says the interior was inspired by jet fighters. The cockpit feeling has a low and slim dashboard with the dominant feature a center console with a narrow strip of buttons on the right side. With the engine behind the front seats, Corvette designers for the first time could lower the hood profile, making for improved sight lines. Keeping the low and slim theme going, check out the narrow air vents and how the audio screen and the automatic, dual-zone climate system’s controls are tucked low.
The 12.0-inch customizable driver information center held a complete array of digital gauges, complemented with a very helpful (one of the best we have seen) head-up display. The Bose 14-speaker infotainment sound system came with a frameless 8.0-inch high-resolution color touch screen housing the FM/AMHD/MP3/AUX radio. Features on this surround sound and counterpoint system include two USB ports, SiriusXM with a trial subscription and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Controls for Bluetooth and the hands-free telephone are found on the steering wheel. The digital rear view camera mirror greatly improves the very limited rear vision.
To operate the handy and helpful OnStar system is as simple as pushing a button. Once connected, a friendly General Motors representative is there to make your driving experience safer and more enjoyable. The most common requests are for directions, help handling emergencies and general assistance, but the system also recognizes when you have been in an accident and may need assistance. This is one area where GM has been an industry leader, and after the five-year basic plan expires, it is well worth renewing for the peace of mind for you and your passenger. For fast Internet speeds there was a 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot, which came with a limited period subscription.
The leather seats on our Corvette Stingray, in a two tone color palette of Sky Cool Gray and Strike Yellow, had yellow accent top stitching and came with black suede microfiber inserts. The flat-bottom racing-style steering wheel was wrapped in the same suede microfiber fabric. The heated and ventilated GT2 seats were comfortable with just the right amount of snugness, augmented with eight-way power adjustable controls, including bolster and lumbar. The seats gave excellent support when pressing the car through the tightest corners.
Convenience and Safety
Our Corvette Stingray came equipped with a power tilt and telescoping steering column, power windows with one-touch up and down, keyless start and entry, remote start, passive entry system, power and heated side mirrors and a theft deterrent system. Safety features include front curb-view cameras, frontal and side impact airbags, rear cross traffic alert, rear park assist and side blind zone alert.
Pricing and Warranties
The 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray has a starting price of $63,290, including the $1,095 destination fee. Clean Fleet Report’s 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Coupe 3LT had a base price of $70,850. With $8,765 in options and the $1,095 destination fee, the MSRP came to $80,710.
The 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray comes with these warranties:
Bumper-to-Bumper – Three years/36,000 miles
Powertrain – Five years/60,000 miles
Roadside Assistance – Five years/60,000 miles
Rust-through – Six years/100,000 miles
Maintenance – Free First visit
Observations: 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Coupe
The 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is fast, corners great, and is priced so well that Ferrari and Lamborghini owners may be wondering why they spent two, three or even four times as much for their mid-engine sports cars. Chevrolet’s gamble on completely reinventing the Corvette with the C8 has been rewarded with near zero supply at dealers. To say driving enthusiasts have taken to the all-new Corvette is an understatement.
Go to an auto show or casual weekend car show and the new Corvette will draw a crowd. Chevrolet considers the Corvette’s flowing lines to be a work of art. What we see is a sleek, functional and aerodynamic, high-powered two-person sports car with a striking design.
Engaging the push-button start, the engine produces a soft burble. Lightly step on the accelerator and the burble becomes a rumble, followed by a full-on grumble when floored. Very satisfying. The trunk and frunk space are good enough for grocery runs, and for two on a long road trip, making the Corvette a practical car.
With unbeatable performance for the price, the Corvette is built to be driven. Whether hard and aggressive through corners or highway cruising and getting 30+ mpg, the Stingray doesn’t sacrifice anywhere or lack anything. The redesign has also led the C8 to victories in IMSA and at Le Mans, continuing the old credo of “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.”
I am not certain your local Chevrolet dealer will be interested in your taking the Corvette on a spirited test drive. With the low volume of cars on dealer lots, they may not be allowing test drives at all. But do your best to drive one for yourself, dissuading the sales rep from wanting to tell you about the performance and handling; explain how you want to experience it yourself. Have a blast!
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Story by John Faulkner. Photos by Lex Adams and Chevrolet.
Editor’s Note: Just as this story was being written, Chevrolet announced the new, 2023 Corvette Z06. No one has driven yet, or even sat in it, but we can tell you it has a 5.5-liter flat-plane crank V8, internally called the LT6. This naturally aspirated engine delivers 670 horsepower with 460 pound-feet of torque. It will have the same eight-speed DCT automatic as on the C8, with estimated 0-60 times as-low-as 2.6 seconds.
Scheduled to be released in the summer of 2022, Clean Fleet Report is looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the 2023 Corvette Z06 and writing a full review.
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
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