I recently had the privilege of driving a Chevrolet C7 Corvette Stingray for an entire week. This occurred shortly after the insurance write-off of my old daily driver, but before I purchased a new car — so the Stingray was my only means of transportation for an entire week. While driving a Corvette has always been a fantasy of mine, ever since I rode in a family friend’s all-original ’63 at 11 years old, the practicality of driving a 455-horsepower sports car on a daily basis is a consideration often lost on the adolescent mind. For better or worse, I daily-drove the Corvette, and I learned quite a bit along the way.
Climbing into the cockpit like interior equipped with a heads-up-display, it’s easy to identify the fighter-jet influence on this model, a long-standing tradition of General Motors that began with Harley Earl’s cars with fins of the 1950s. With the proximity key in my pocket, I pushed the ignition button and the aluminum-block V8 rumbled to life. While new cars tend to be quieter than, say, cars of the 1990s and earlier, the Corvette makes its powerful presence known with a deep, snorty gurgle and a shift-knob that vibrates in place like an old-school muscle car. After unlatching the roof, I removed the feather-light targa panel and stowed it in the trunk, where it occupied the entire cargo area. I was now ready to go.
I put the 7-speed stick into gear, let off the clutch and was off. For a high-performance car, the clutch was easy to modulate, and I was genuinely surprised by the ease in which the Corvette moved. With the rev-matching gearbox feature switched on by a steering wheel paddle, every gear change is precise and smooth. If you’re a granny shifter and generally don’t blip the throttle on your downshifts, the rev-matching feature will become your new best friend. Paired to the transmission, the engine is fantastic, too. It is brash, loud and thirsty in an irresponsible, yet rewarding, way. It feels good to be bad in the Corvette, to press the gas and watch the digital speedometer multiply in front of your eyes, to merely glance at a desired lane and then be there. Find some open highway, get locked into the left lane and just go. This is what the Corvette is about — and it does these things well.
The Corvette Stingray offers an unadulterated visceral driving experience with little compromise. While I was surprised how relatively easy it was to operate, other characteristics of the car tend to become burdensome when driven on a regular basis. Sitting behind the elongated and beautifully sculpted hood, it is difficult to negotiate obstacles such as the ramp to a gas station or shopping center. To remedy the problem, the Corvette has multiple cameras on the front to help avoid a tense and embarrassing scrape to the fascia. These are instrumental in not hitting a concrete parking stop. Additionally, the Corvette is a symbol of power and excess — and it consumes fuel like one. It does have an ECO mode, and it suggests doing fourth gear starts in slow traffic, in a manner that almost acknowledges its own flaws.
Daily driving on Detroit highways, I often glanced in my rearview mirror to find another performance oriented vehicle, often a BMW M5 or a Dodge Challenger, jockeying for a little game of cat-and-mouse. While I do not engage in this activity, nor encourage it on public roads, I found it as a testament to the raw masculinity that the ‘Vette is often associated with.
At one of the many fill-ups over my 600-mile week in the Stingray, I was confronted by a young duo in a rattlecan-painted camoflague pick-up truck wanting to "race for slips," claiming their truck was "faster than it looks." With a chuckle, I declined the challenge and had a major realization about the Corvette: while the ‘Vette is relatively easy to operate, being the human vessel for the intensity and attitude of the car grew tiresome for me. On the sixth day of my week-long evaluation, I left the Corvette at home and took my girlfriend’s Volkswagen Tiguan out to dinner. I was surprisingly overjoyed with the reprieve and welcomed the no-frills simplicity of her own practical daily driver. Yes, you can daily drive a Corvette, but should you? If your answer is yes, be prepared for the car’s never-ending intensity, because in a Corvette, there is no such thing as a mundane run to the supermarket. Find a Chevrolet Corvette for sale