By Zack Klapman.
The Chevy Camaro ZL1 undid almost all the wrongs that Chevy’s pony car came with in the first place. The Magnetic Ride Control floated better than most luxury cars, but could hunker down when it was time for business. The sound from the electronically controlled exhaust baffles was music to tarmac anarchists, and the 580 supercharged horses was their Molotov cocktail. It hit 60MPH in 4.4 seconds, quick enough, but the real trick was how it turned 4,000lbs into a nimble beast. The faster I went, the smaller it felt. Despite its weight, and the lack of visibility, the nose almost as quickly as I saw the corner. The steering, brake, and shifter feel were basically perfect. It was a performer and a cruiser, and very good at both.
But that was 2012. At the time, the C6 Corvette had been out for 7 years, and as fast as it is, it was kind of old news. Your 2012 Corvette could be mistaken for a 2005, inside especially. At least the Camaro offered something new.
Well, if the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was a seat filler at the Oscars, Mr. Nicholson has returned from the restroom: The new C7 Corvette is here, and it upstaged the Camaro in every single way.
The Camaro is both a cruiser and a racer right? So is the Corvette. Ride stiffness can be adjusted with a button (Magnetic Ride Control is only an $1,800 option). Its 7-speed manual helps it get 29MPG on the highway, about 8 better than the ZL1’s best. And while the ZL1’s trunk has an opening like a kid’s Halloween pumpkin that isn’t wide enough to get the candle in, the Corvette’s hatch can swallow the optional pop-off roof and then some. Practicality challenge over.
You might say, “But the Camaro has more power!” You’re right, it has 125 more. And it uses that extra power to scream and shout while the C7 (with Z51 package) beats it to 60MPH by over half a second, and slaloms through cones 2MPH faster (70.8 to 72.8, respectively. The Camaro is a bodybuilder: stronger, but heavier, by a lot. You know that running back that runs a 4.3 40? C7.
You used to be able to settle most Corvette arguments by pointing at the interior, but Chevy has completely re-done it, and that is no longer a sticking point. The interior is great, comfortable, ergonomic, looking and feeling on par with the performance and price point. Can’t say the same for the Camaro.
And the price. All that performance and class must cost kidneys, right? Wrong. Forget the optional NAV, heads-up displays, carbon this, fancy seats that, and whatever other options most press testers come with. Get a regular C7 1LT with the Z51 package ($3,000) and the MRC shocks. The Z51 kit includes coolers for the trans. And diff., better brakes and bigger wheels/tires (If you order a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette C7 without that package, buy a Prius). That’s a $57,000 Corvette (the same money as the ZL1) that will run around a track until you turn to dust. Roomy, cool, robust, economical even.
Unlike the ZL1 or Corvettes of past, the C7 Corvette asks you to make zero compromises.
(Note: All vehicles provided by manufacturers for comparison test purposes. Photos provided by Chevrolet.)