If there's a better performance value than the Corvette Stingray Z51 for less than $55,000 delivered, we don't know what it is.
At a base of 455 horsepower (or 460 hp with the performance exhaust option), the 6.2-liter LT1 V-8 is a brilliant, willing engine. It sounds as good as it goes, and it mates very well with the new seven-speed manual transmission. The six-speed automatic (with shift paddles) also performs admirably, though enthusiasts will opt to row their own gears.
All of that power, plus an electronically-actuated rear differential (in Z51 package cars) helps the Stingray rocket to 60 mph in as little as 3.8 seconds, per Chevy. Top speed hasn't been tested yet, but it's expected to crest 180 mph.
This Corvette, perhaps more than any before it, is about much more than speed, however. With the new e-diff, the stiffer, lighter chassis of the seventh-generation car, and the addition of Chevy's latest Performance Traction Management system, the Stingray is bred for performance--that is, speed in the curves as well as the straights. It delivers, with flat cornering, over 1 g of lateral grip, and surprisingly accurate (if slightly numb) electric power steering.
The result of the C7 Corvette's influx of new components and tunes is a sports car that becomes greater than the mere sum of its parts. There's an experience to driving the new Corvette, just as there should be with every long-running, history-rich sports car family.
And speaking of the Corvette family, it's important to remember this is likely the slowest Corvette of the seventh generation. As with the sixth-generation car, higher-performance models are expected along the lines of the Z06 and ZR1--both of which added significant amounts of power and sharper setups than the base Corvette.
At the end of the day, the Corvette runs with cars that cost twice its price--or more--without coming up too short in other areas. It's the benchmark for value in the super-performance sports car segment.
One final note: If you're considering a Corvette Convertible, don't be afraid of compromised performance. In fact, don't be afraid of stepping up to the track-ready Z51. That's because the C7 Corvette was engineered as a roadster to begin with, so you won't be sacrificing any structural integrity.