I review a lot of cars, but this is the first one that’s reviewed me. Having admired the car when I spoke with Chevrolet's Tom Peters (its lead designer) when it was announced earlier this year, it was an easy answer when Chevrolet asked me to test the 2014 Corvette Stingray (aka the C7, since it’s the seventh generation in the car’s 60-year history) on a track outside of Las Vegas.
This would be no ordinary track drive; both the car and I would be hooked up to all kinds of diagnostic tools to monitor both how I drove the car and how my body and brain reacted to it. Geared up with electrodes, monitors, software, walkie talkies, sensors and cameras mounted all over the car, a huge crew and a Stingray raring to go, I was ready. Four other drivers were selected to participate in the 2014 Corvette Stingray Biometric Test Drive challenge, along with one professional race-car driver.
Getting behind the wheel of a sports car with a wide open track ahead, new tires and a full tank of gas is bound to get anyone's heart racing. This time, I could see just how fast (120 bpm). I’m used to having a photographer or video camera around, but it was the first time I’ve driven with a maxed out mobile camera truck capable of keeping up with me on the track, driven and operated by a world-class crew at Performance Filmworks—the same guys who’ve filmed many of Hollywood’s best car chases and stunts in recent years.
While my breathing and pulse were being monitored, recently developed 3D brain mapping software invented by Dr Thomas F. Collura's BrainMaster Technologies was being used for the first time outside the lab in its first non-medical use. It analyzed my brain, showing activity in the regions associated with pleasure, fear, concentration and more. While you can train your body to perform in all kinds of David Blaine-like ways—lowering your pulse, controlling your breathing, etc—your brain activity is the one thing that can't be controlled. This software shows how your brain feels in a real time, color, 3D display. Evidently, mine showed that I was calm and focused, with surging levels of excitement, but not fear.
Every action was recorded during the drive by Circuit Tools 2, some very impressive analytical racing software that measured nearly every aspect: Speed, acceleration, braking, g-force (I hit 1.29) and more. It then allows you to review your performance for each lap you’ve driven, to see exactly where and how you can improve. For a data and car nerd like myself, it was a dream drive.
Fortunately, you don’t need any of this gear to enjoy the new Stingray. It drives the way it looks—sharp, tight and fast. Nearly every aspect of the car was re-engineered, and it delivers as promised. The car shares only two insignificant parts with the 2013 model (a latch for the top and an interior air filter) and gets a much needed interior overhaul with quality materials, fit and finish and comfortable performance seats that keep you firmly in place. A new 455 hp LT1 V-8 engine, welcome performance enhancing electronics like multiple driving modes and programs, an electronic limited-slip differential, Magnetic Ride Control and other tools help you get the most out of the car, but can also be turned off for those with the skill to put the car through its paces on the track.
My review of the car is pretty similar to its review of me—fearless, calm and focused—though there is something it can’t express, and that’s the smile on your face while you’re driving it.
The nicely equipped base model starts at $51,995 and a very full loaded option around $68,000. The convertible will arrive in late 2013 and is around $5,000 more.
Images by Evan Orensten