2019 Chevy Corvette Stingray Z51 Drivers’ Notes Quick Spin Review

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In recent years, most of the talk surrounding the Chevy Corvette has focused on the Z06 and the bonkers new ZR1. While those supercharged models are awesome, sometimes the base feels overlooked. A week with one gave us a good reminder of what makes Chevy’s flagship sports car so revered.

The most important option on our test car was the performance package. If you care about driving, it’s a must-have option. Upgrades include a retuned suspension, bigger rotors, an electronic limited-slip differential, a multi-mode exhaust, new gear ratios, a rear spoiler and a dry-sump oil system. Other options on our car include the wonderful Magnetic Ride Control, the Performance Data Recorder and the 2LT trim package (heated seats, parcel shelf, an upgraded audio system and a heads-up display).

Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder: The Corvette’s engine is powerful, and is especially responsive in the middle of the rev range. It’s not universally rev-happy. You have to work with it a bit to wring out all the power, which is a fun and engaging challenge. Once you start figuring out how to drive this the right way, it becomes super satisfying.

I didn’t like the clunkiness of the shifter, though. It’s not as tactile — and therefore not as precise — as it could be. Also turning both shift paddles into a selector to turn rev matching on and off seems superfluous. I’d rather they were gone, and I could just press a button. I also wish the rev-matching setting didn’t reset every time you turn the car off. If I want it on part of the time, I probably want it on all of the time.

And the infotainment system is barely usable. It’s laggy and often unresponsive. My advice is to just ignore it and enjoy the rest of the driving experience.

When you look at the Corvette in smaller chunks — handling, performance, comfort, technology, design — you get a lot of different results that together don’t average out to anything spectacular. But somehow this car is something far greater than the sum of its parts.

Associate Editor Reese Counts: My Dad has owned 17 Corvettes, at least one of each generation save for the C7. His brother used to buy and trade cars and owned roughly 150 Corvettes over the years. I learned to drive in a C4. The first time I was pulled over, I was behind the wheel of a C5 Z06. The first car I ever wrenched on was my cousin’s ’64 Sting Ray. I stuck an ’85 Corvette powertrain under the hood of my old S-10 pickup. From the day I went home from the hospital in my Dad’s ‘86 coupe, the Corvette has been a part of my life.

There’s a lot of variety in the Corvette lineup, but, as with most things, the sweet spot is towards the middle. My two favorite variants are the Stingray Z51 and the Grand Sport Z07. The Z06 and ZR1 are fantastic and unbelievably fast and capable machines, but they’re overkill for the road and a lot of shorter tracks. The two naturally-aspirated models provide far more fun and balance. Personally, I think the styling on the Z06 and ZR1 are a little overdone. I don’t want to drive a race car everyday.

The Stingray isn’t perfect. John’s right about the shifter. It’s just not as precise as I would like. Joel’s right about the smell (though it gives me a huge and immediate dose of nostalgia). I can say that it does go away after a while. Still, I want one quite badly.

Associate Editor Joel Stocksdale: There’s a lot to like about the Corvette, but it also has its share of quirks. In the “like” category, the styling still looks excellent. It’s crisp, aggressive and taut. And somehow, even with the Z51 Performance Package’s big front lip spoiler, I never had an issue scraping it around town. It also has a shocking amount of cargo space. When I loaded up my dog for a road trip over the weekend, she hopped past the front seat and into the hatch area and looked at me like she was settled and ready to go. I already had my backpack, a big bag of dog food and a few other odds and ends back there.

Of course besides style and practicality, there’s performance, too. The engine makes lovely noises, and it has sharp throttle response. The seven-speed manual clicks into gears with a light flick of the wrist, and the steering is precise if slightly numb. The chassis is planted and instills even more confidence than the already impressive Camaro. But perhaps the most amazing part of the Corvette is the fact that I was able to get its 6.2-liter 460-horsepower V8 to return over 30 mpg consistently on the highway. Plus the suspension provides a smooth ride. If only the car were quieter inside. The tire and road roar starts to wear on you over time.

But now we come to the awkward parts. The interior is starting to feel a little drab and dated. And if you’re a larger person like me, it’s a bit cramped from all sides. My forehead was roughly at the same height as the windshield header. Blindspots are really bad to the rear. But perhaps the most unfortunate part of the car was the strong smell of adhesives and glue, a side-effect of the fiberglass construction.

Still, I had fun, and if the smell dissipates over time, it’s hard to go wrong with one as a toy, or even as a daily driver.

Video Production Manager Eddie Sabatini: I liked it, and I’m a staunch ‘Vette hater. This was a comfortable and fun drive. It had a restrained amount of cheap-feeling touch points, and I love the heads-up display — it’s currently my favorite execution of a HUD I’ve experienced by any automaker. My favorite part was how responsive the display was when I changed songs on Spotify. And this is by far the best looking Corvette since the 1960s.

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