Chevrolet now produces four different versions of the seventh-generation Corvette, as well as hardtop, targa, and convertible options.
I’ve driven ’em all: the Stingray, the Grand Sport, the Z06, and the ZR1.
My personal favourite is the Grand Sport.
The Chevrolet Corvette has been in production since 1953. Now on its seventh generation, I like to remind myself that it was the first truly stunning car I ever got a ride in.
It was back in the 1970s, at my grandparents’ farm in Ohio. A car-nut friend of theirs paid a visit – in his 1967 Vette. “Want a ride?” he asked me. He didn’t have to ask twice. I still sometimes dream about the thick rumble of the engine and the heavy click of the gearshift.
Thusly influenced, I’ve made Corvette-driving something of a distinct subgenre of my car-reviewing here at Business Insider. If we get a chance at testing a Vette, I don’t have to be asked twice.
The seventh generation of the Corvette is likely the last of its kind: massive V8 engine up front, sending power to the rear wheels. Chevy is expected to make gen eight a mid-engine machine, similar to what Ferrari and McLaren offer in their supercars.
With that in mind, I thought I’d round up the current Vette stable and run through the lineup’s virtues. The bottom line is that Corvette combines insane performance with a great price better than anybody in the car business.
1. Chevy Corvette Stingray: We’ll start with the “base” Stingray — Business Insider’s first-ever Car of the Year, in 2014. We enjoyed both the seven-speed manual and the eight-speed automatic. Pictured here is the convertible.
History lesson: The original Grand Sport Corvettes were created by the car’s first chief engineer, Zora Arkus-Duntov, in 1963. They were intended to be race cars, designed to run in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Again, the eight-speed auto. We also have the 6.2-litre V8 from the Stingray, also making 460 horsepower. But the GS gets a bunch of the Z06’s performance goodies, making it a better track car than the Stingray.
3. Chevy Corvette Z06: Enter the Corvette Z06. Not a convertible, by the way. Instead, a removable targa top. Our tester cost about $US90,000.
The Z06 is meant to be something of a mixed-Vette. Yes, it’s a Corvette. But it’s a Corvette that hangs out with Pagani Huayras and drinks good tequila. This is the Corvette-as-proper-supercar.
Of course, the value proposition remains. My test car still featured the familiar seven-speed manual. But it was piping 650 horsepower, supercharged, to the rear wheels.
4. Chevy Corvette ZR1: And what about the newest and most beastly Vette in town, the ZR1? At $US137,000 and with a boosted version of the ZR1’s supercharged V8, it’s the most potent and pricey of gen-seven Vettes.
If the Z06 turns Corvette up to 11 with 650 horsepower, the ZR1 takes it to 111, or 1,111 — or just trashes the amplifier dials altogether and creates a white-hot supernova of noise and power. The same V8 engine that provides the Z06 with its epic output, when modified and ridiculously intensified, generates a near-comical 755 horsepower in the ZR1.
Obviously, Corvettes have come a long way since the first sporty two-door appeared in the early 1950s.
They’re even some pretty far from the famous C3 Vette of the 1970s — the “Boogie Nights” design.
Pressed for a choice among the Stingray, GS, Z06, and ZR1, I’d have to go with the GS. It ups the ante on the Stingray just enough without moving the Vette form into bonkers territory, as do the Z06 and ZR1.