At less than $55,000 delivered, if there’s a better performance value than the 2015 Chevy Corvette Stingray with the Z51 package, we don't know what it is.
Starting at 455 horsepower (up to 460 hp with the performance exhaust option), the LT1 6.2-liter V-8 provides ample power, and does it willingly. Likewise, it makes all the right sounds, and it mates very well with the new seven-speed manual transmission.
Updates for 2015 include an improved rev-matching algorithm for the manual gearbox, and an all-new eight-speed automatic with shift paddles that Chevy says beats Porsche’s PDK shift times by 80 milliseconds—a relative eternity in the land of performance transmissions. In our time driving the car on the street and the track, the new eight-speed does a remarkable job whether clicking the paddles manually or letting the computer figure out which gear is best—and it doesn’t feel in any way slower than the manual. In fact, it’s quicker to accelerate thanks to a wider gear spread, shaving a tenth of a second off the 60 mph and quarter-mile times, down to 3.7 seconds and 11.9 seconds respectively for the automatic.
All of that power, plus an electronically-actuated rear differential (in Z51 package cars) mates impressively with the new aluminum-intensive chassis and suspension setup, particularly when configured with the magneto-rheological adjustable dampers.
Add to that Chevy's latest Performance Traction Management system, and the Stingray is bred for performance--that is, speed in the curves as well as the straights. Flat cornering, over 1 g of lateral grip, and surprisingly accurate (if slightly numb) electric power steering combine to yield truly addictive driving traits for the enthusiast. There's an experience to driving the new Corvette, just as there should be with every long-running, history-rich sports car family.
It's important to remember, too, that this is likely the slowest Corvette of the seventh generation. A higher-performance Z06 sporting 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque from a supercharged LT4 V-8 engine is due soon.
At the end of the day, the Corvette runs with cars that cost twice its price or more, while mostly hiding its cost-savings in other areas.
And 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.