The Chevrolet Corvette C7 and all the variations that were produced in its fairly short 5-year period was dynamically stellar regardless whether you chose the trick 7-speed manual transmission or the effortless 8-speed automatic. The very last unit we thoroughly tested was back in 2014 with the Z51 packaged Stingray with the delicious central quad exhaust system (you would have to buy the 670 bhp Z06 C8 to get the central exhaust now). My biggest issues that I had with the C7 had nothing to do with performance nor aesthetics but refinement as well as fit-and-finish. The all-new mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette C8 that has replaced the C7 has raised its dynamic ability pronouncedly while simultaneously addressing its cabin experience. It was just a nice coincidence that after nine years had passed that my next immersion with the iconic Corvette was once again a Stingray coupé with the Z51 packaging but this time experienced in the Philippines!
The all-new aluminum chassis Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 is the lone variant available in our archipelago and it is considerably more than the expected ferocious track beast that it is. With its high-level packaging, which it needs to be at a retail price of PhP 12,571,888.00 (its closest direct competition like a Porsche 911 Carrera S still costs more second-hand for perspective), the C8 Stingray Z51 can be used as a long-distance GT and can be driven every day. Heck if I did own this test unit in Ceramic Matrix Gray Metallic exterior with two-tone Adrenaline Red, Napa leather seating with perforated sueded microfiber inserts on the very supportive yet comfortable Competition Sport seats in the well-crafted interior, I would use it every single day even on golf days as a full set will fit behind the sensational LT2 V8 engine. In fact, there is room for a second golf bag that would lay on top of it, yes that is how wide the sensual rear quarter is to accommodate the 305-width tires, the new 8-speed dual-clutch transmission, and securely house the lightweight detachable carbon fiber Targa roof panel that would eat up most of the usable rear trunk space though when used. The front trunk will hold one standard-sized airline carry-on with enough room left to carry a medium sized duffle bag. The total capacity of both combined is 357-liters.
If you are worried about having to slow down excessively to scale a village speed bump, the new Corvette can raise the front of the vehicle by approximately 40 mm (about 2-inches) in less than 3 seconds up to 38 km/h before it settles back to its default height. With the Z51 packaging, the C8 Stingray comes with a wealth of extra greatness beginning with the dual-mode performance exhaust that increases power by 5 bhp and 5 lb-ft of torque accompanied by a more aggressive yet still fairly subdued sound, a more tenacious rear axle ratio for livelier acceleration (standard final-drive ratio is 4.89:1, Z51s are fitted with a 5.17), electronic LSD, larger Brembo® brakes that includes Corvette script and Z51 logo on calipers, heavier duty engine and brake cooling through additional ducts and a rear-mounted third radiator, upgraded tire compounds, high performance suspension combined with version 4.0 of the Magnetic Selective Ride Control adaptive dampers that react between 10-15 milliseconds, and Z51-specific front splitter and rear spoiler.
The Driver Mode Selector allows you to choose from preset Weather, Tour, Sport and Track algorithms as well as customizable MyMode. There’s also Z Mode, which allows you to personalize almost every aspect of your driving experience combined with a performance data recorder. The C8 Corvette may be the supercar for the North American masses but it’s price in our market makes it only available to the highest echelon in our society.
Of course, the usual smartphone connectivity and wireless charger is present along with the multiple cameras. The 12-inch digital instrument panel, HUD display, and 8-inch infotainment system are backed up by good graphics and a very usable interface fully supported by a sensational Bose® 14-speaker audio system which you can hear extra well because the cabin is so quiet.
Once you get past the aesthetics and all the niceties, the real reward is the incredibly composed handling with precision. The C8 has a 5.4-inches longer body on a longer by half an inch wheelbase compared to the old C7 model but it feels smaller and more importantly drives with even better agility and compliance. The mid-engine setup worked! And even if the C8 is carrying more weight and equipment, the potent 6.2-liter V8 (495 bhp @ 6450 rpm / 470 lb-ft @ 5150 rpm) produces more power than you can realistically use safely in our country.
The Stingray may be the opening salvo in its family evolution, but it is already mind-blowing. Sure, it is quieter than expected, the all-new Ford Mustang GT is way louder, and the looks can be intimidating, but as an instrument of high-speed freedom and joy it stands proudly above most. It creates enough drama on its own and its behavior is very unique. 0-100 km/h is dispatched in 3.1 seconds with a top speed of 314 km/h!!
The all-new Chevrolet Stingray Z51 C8 isn’t just the finest Corvette ever, it is the sports car to challenge both supercars and hypercars at a relatively more attainable price with the ability to be genuinely enjoyed every single day.
Photos by Isabel N. Delos Reyes