By John Faulkner Clean Fleet Report
[Note from the Editor: A new mid-engine Corvette is on the way. That means the current front-engine Corvette is likely the last of its type and a potential future collectible. Let’s see what John Faulkner says about the 2019 Corvette following a week behind the wheel.]
Perfect Balance Between Street and Track
You see one on the street and might think: “Yeah, itʼs nice, but what am I going to do with it?” In the case of the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 Coupe, probably make it your everyday ride, plus go rip-up a winding road occasionally.
We spent an enjoyable week on Southern California highways and mountain roads in the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51, trying to satisfy our inner needs of being sporty and looking cool. It was not nearly enough time. Sporty was never an issue; being cool passed us long ago. What we did learn is that all Corvettes are not overpowered and a handful to drive, as the Stingray Z51 is both exciting and manageable.
Chevroletʼs Case for Owning a Corvette
The 2019 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 is one of the best-looking Corvettes in recent years. The Z51 with the optional 2LT package cuts a striking image whether it is standing still or cruising the road. This marks 66 years of Corvette production, and in that time it has been an aspirational car for many people. Go to an auto show or casual weekend car show and Corvettes always draw a crowd.
Chevrolet says the Corvetteʼs flowing lines are a work of art that are sleek, functional and aerodynamic. But these are only the beginning of why maybe, just maybe, it is time you took the leap to a Corvette.
Powerful and Responsive
It takes a bit of experimenting to figure out how to drive a car that is most likely not like anything you have been driving of late. Not that the Corvette is difficult to drive, just the opposite. What you will be doing is taking corners at different speeds, in different gears and with different apexes, experimenting to squeeze-out every bit of driving enjoyment. In the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, there is a whole lot of that to be had.
The 6.2-liter V8 has direct injection with active fuel management and cylinder deactivation to maximize fuel efficiency. Premium fuel is recommended, but not required to get the 460 horsepower and 465 lb.-ft. of torque. In several 0-to-60 runs, we averaged a quick 3.7 seconds with power everywhere in the rev range. Top speed is rated at 195 mph, but we didnʼt even think of getting anywhere near that speed. If you have that desire, get some professional instruction.
Our Stingray came with the seven-speed manual with Active Rev Matching, which was a wonderful thing to hear and feel. Active Rev Matching is a feature that matches engine and vehicle speed for smooth, quick and precise down shifts – like those performed racing on the track. The Vetteʼs software recognizes when the car is decelerating and “blips” the throttle, matching input (engine speed) with output speed (wheel speed) when downshifting to lower gears. Rev Matching replaces the heel-toe driving technique, making a perfect shift every time. We felt the manualʼs shifts could have been more precise, but with a very smooth clutch, it all fell into place to easily handle the horsepower and torque of the 6.2L V8.
Related Video – Quick Look at the Corvette ZR1
For those seeking the ultimate 2019 Corvette, Chevrolet offers the flagship ZR1. The special LT5 6.2L supercharged V8 is rated at 755 horsepower and 715 lb.-ft. of torque. These top-line models carry suggested base MSRPs of $121,995 for the coupe and $126,495 for the convertible. (video: CarNichiWa.com)
The EPA rates the 2019 Corvette Stingray Z51 fuel economy at 16 city/25 highway/19 combined. For Clean Fleet Report, these numbers on their own donʼt crack the 30 mpg that we feel is the basis for a car being fuel efficient. But in 346 miles of 75-percent highway/25-percent city driving, we averaged 26.6 mpg. So far, so good improving over the EPA numbers, but that wasnʼt enough. In two 100-mile highway runs, with the cruise control set at 65 mph, we achieved 33.1 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, to sip at a miserly rate.
It’s important to note that the fuel economy numbers reported by Clean Fleet Report are non-scientific. They represent the reviewerʼs driving experience, but should be similar to most drivers living in our reviewerʼs cities. If you live in cold weather, high in the mountains, spend time in the city or stuck in rush hour traffic, then your numbers may differ.
Jumping out of small, impressively responsive sporty cars, like our recent stints in a Mazda MX-5 Miata, Toyota 86, and Hyundai Veloster R-Spec, then jumping into a much larger, far more powerful and heavier Corvette Stingray, took an attitude adjustment. Abandoning preconceived ideas of what this American icon would be like behind the wheel was necessary.
Our seat-of-the-pants impression is that Chevrolet has made a very nice base model 2019 Corvette Stingray, with a stiff chassis that is smooth and comfortable on the highway. Opt for the Z51 performance package, and the car becomes a handling dream. Our Corvette Z51 also had magnetic ride control that softens bumps and plants the car on uneven and not-so-smooth corners.
There is a bit of road and tire noise, most likely from the firm, Michelin Pilot Super Sport run-flat summer tires (staggered sizes 285/30ZR19 up front and 335/25ZR20 in the rear).
The ride is wonderfully balanced and comfortable for a 3,487-lb. car. The electric power steering has a natural feel, with good road feedback, aided by active handling stability and all-speed traction control. The Corvette Stingray can be your everyday driver, delivering excellent performance driving attributes.
The stopping was excellent, strong and consistent. The Brembo slotted brake discs (14.6-inch front/14.4-inch rear) were power-assisted and part of the anti-lock brake system.
To make your time on the road even more fun and memorable, you will come to enjoy the performance data recorder (PDR) that Chevrolet says ”with just two simple clicks, you can record every aspect of your driving, including real-time audio and video and 34 channels of performance data.” Available on selected Corvette and Camaro models, the PDR lets you relive your driving experience and analyze every turn.
Design Details: Exterior
The Corvette Stingray Z51 is a cool-looking car. Yes, you can go for the Z06, Grand Sport or ZR1 models, but their wings, spoilers and ground effects can be a bit overwhelming. The Z51 is sleek and subtle with crisp lines that convey an aggressive side of this very tamable sports car. One surprise was no scraping of the front spoiler when going over speed bumps or negotiating driveways.
The wide and low stance is enhanced by the Xenon, high-intensity discharge headlights set high on the fenders. The long, carbon fiber hood and sweptback windshield lead to the roof, which features a very easy-to-remove carbon fiber panel for open air driving. The LED tail lights sit wide above the quad, chrome exhaust tips, making for an almost menacing look. This design resulted in a 0.30 coefficient of drag to aid slipping through the wind.
Design Details: Interior
The engine sound is wonderful; it fills the interior as you shift through the gears. The seats on our Stingray, with accent top stitching, came with the optional suede microfiber inserts. The flat-bottom steering wheel was wrapped in the same fabric. The heated and ventilated GT seats were comfortable with eight-way power adjustment, including bolster and lumbar. They offered excellent support when flipping the car through the tightest corners.
The digital gauges are complete, complemented with a very helpful—and one of the best we have seen—head-up display. The Bose nine-speaker infotainment sound system was part of a frameless 8.0-inch high-resolution color touch screen, housing the AM/FM/MP3/AUX radio. Features include a USB slot and a 12-volt power outlet, SiriusXM® satellite radio (one-year subscription), Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™. Controls for Bluetooth and the hands-free phone are found on the steering wheel.
With the very limited rear visibility in the Corvette Stingray, using the rearview mirror is a must. Unfortunately, there are three LED lights on the mirror, which are the exact color (red and blue) and intensity (high) as those found on the front of a police or highway patrol car. So, every time you look in the mirror (which should be often when driving a red sports car!), your stomach churns just a bit, as you are certain “The Man” is on your tail. It adds an adventure element to driving the ‘Vette.
The handy and helpful OnStar® system is as simple as pushing a button that connects you with a friendly General Motors representative to make your driving experience safer and more enjoyable. The most common requests are for directions, emergency help and general assistance. This is one area where GM is the industry leader. After the five-year basic plan expires, it is well worth renewing for peace of mind for you and your passenger. For an internet connection, there was a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, which came with a limited-period subscription through AT&T. Depending on how much you travel and your data use, the hotspot option should be considered. In our experience, it was fast and provided uninterrupted service, even for streaming movies and games.
Convenience and Safety
Our test car came equipped with cruise control, a power tilt and telescoping steering column, rear vision camera, power windows with one-touch up and down, keyless start, passive entry system, power and heated side mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control and a theft deterrent system. Safety features included front curb-view cameras and frontal and side impact airbags. This Corvette lacks the advanced driver-assistance features found on most cars in 2019.
Clean Fleet Reportʼs 2019 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 Coupe checked in with a base price of $60,495. With the 2LT Package and other options, the MSRP bottom line came to $72,230. All prices exclude the $1,095 destination charge.
Observations: 2019 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 Coupe
Engage the push-button start and 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. All are oh-so-very-satisfying. But the surprisingly generous trunk space, good enough for two on a long road trip, makes the Corvette – dare I say it – a practical car.
With unbeatable performance for the price, the 2019 Corvette Stingray Z51 is built to be driven. Whether this is hard and aggressive through corners in a spirited manner, or highway cruising and getting 30+ mpg, the Stingray doesnʼt sacrifice anywhere or lack anything. Okay, okay, I liked it. Nay, I more than liked it. Go drive one for yourself, and have a blast!
For more product information visit Chevrolet.com
For more reviews by the author visit Clean Fleet Report
John Faulkner is Road Test Editor at Clean Fleet Report. He has more than 30 years experience branding, launching and marketing automobiles. His interest in automobiles is broad and deep, beginning as a child riding in the back seat of his parent’s Studebaker. He is a journalist member of the Motor Press Guild.
Corvette press fleet vehicle provided by Chevrolet. Prices and vehicle information applies to U.S. models at the time of publication, not including destination, taxes, license, etc. All product information, including prices, features, and specifications, is subject to change without notice.
Photos (as noted) © 2019 Lex Adams. Additional photo courtesy Chevrolet. Video © CarNichiWa.com
Story © 2019 Clean Fleet Report – This review is reposted with permission on CarNichiWa.com