In case you didn’t already know, the all-new 2014 Corvette Stingray is a technological tour de force. From its all-new LT1 V8 engine to its purposefully-sculpted exterior, the seventh-generation of the ultimate American sports car means business. Big, serious, and absolute business. And it’s no accident that the C7 Stingray’s interior takes the all-American super car to new heights, all in the name of a better car with a better driving experience.
Corvette product managers took into account complaints voiced by customers (and pretty much everyone with a keyboard and access to the web) about the cabin of the sixth-gen Corvette, and delivered an interior worthy of being in a world-class supercar such as the C7. In fact, the team used the “Respect the Craft” and “Truth in Materials” taglines when revealing the all-new Corvette, referring to holding engineering, design, and delivery of a world-class cabin in high regard. These qualities only scratch the surface of describing the interior of the sixth-gen Vette.
The Devil Is In The Details
The new Corvette’s cabin features genuine materials and precise craftsmanship, as well as advanced technologies for a more connected and engaging driving experience. And since the Vette is, and always has been, a driver’s car, designers paid an unprecedented amount of attention to the smallest and most intricate details to make the vehicle an even better driving machine with a no-compromises cabin.
The result is that every C7 model features a fully-wrapped interior in which every surface is covered with premium, soft-touch materials. You won’t find any plastics pretending to be aluminum, either: if it looks like metal, then it’s real aluminum; if it looks like carbon fiber, then it’s carbon fiber; the same goes for micro-suede and genuine Napa leather.
One of the first things the driver will notice upon entering the C7 is the wonderful sweeping arch element over the cockpit, as well as the seamless transition of the arch from the instrument panel to the door. The driver will also notice that the instrument panel is wrapped in leather, with the materials being hand-selected and hand-stretched for better grain matching. Stitching, meanwhile, is performed by robots to provide perfect seams. In effect, the C7’s interior is a combination of hand craftsmanship and machined precision to ensure the interior is first-rate in fit, finish, and ambience.
“Every feature and detail in the interior is designed to enhance the driver’s connection to the Corvette,” said interior design director Helen Emsley. “It starts with the fighter jet inspired wraparound cockpit; continues to build with the smaller steering wheel, more supportive seats, and high-definition, configurable screens, and is finished in gorgeous materials.”
To further fine-tune the cabin, the Corvette design and development team took “field trips” (can we come?) to GM’s Milford Proving Ground and engaged in some high-performance driving, resulting in the implementation of several new features, like the steel-reinforced grab bar on the passenger side of the center console that (you guessed it) serves as an excellent oh shit! handle. The attention to detail during the team’s field trips to Milford also carries through to the soft-touch materials lining the edge of the console, where the driver naturally braces during high-load cornering.
When it comes to assembling the all-new Vette at GM’s Bowling Green plant in Kentucky, a significant amount of collaboration took place between design and manufacturing for the C7’s cabin: “To ensure the high quality of the interior, we spent time working on the line alongside the team that builds the Corvette every day at Bowling Green Assembly Plant,” said Ryan Vaughan, interior design manager. “And thanks to that collaboration between design, engineering and manufacturing, we were able to make adjustments that allowed us to maintain the integrity of the design, improve the assembly process and ultimately deliver what we believe to be a world-class interior.”
The Steering Wheel
The C7’s wheel is no longer the same as the unit found in a $20,000 Chevy Malibu (can you say parts bin?). Instead, the 2014 Corvette gets a smaller 14.1-inch diameter (360 mm) steering wheel that, according to GM, contributes to a more direct and immediate feel to directional inputs.
The wheel also has buttons galore, including controls for cruise control, voice/Bluetooth, and the eight-inch color display in the gauge cluster (more on that in a bit). The wheel isn’t a flat-bottom unit, but having to yet drive a C7 around the track (or elsewhere, for that matter), we’ll reserve judgement on this matter… for now.
Since we brought up the Malibu, have you ever noticed that the leather adorning the seats of the sixth-gen Corvette matched that of Chevy’s midsize sedan? That will no longer be the case with the C7, as grade-A Napa leather adorns the Vette’s two seats. The precise and elegant stitching found on the new steering wheel is also present on the leather trim of the all-new seats.
That’s right, the seats are all new. No longer will drivers (and passengers) have to endure the extreme “give” during spirited acceleration and cornering that were too common with the chairs of the C6, since Corvette engineers created two entirely new seats. The chairs use a magnesium frame structure for greater strength and weigh less than comparable steel frames. The new seats are also more rigid, resulting in increased support during performance driving.
The standard “GT seats” are great for all-around comfort, while the optional Competition Sport seats deliver more aggressive side bolstering for greater support on the track.
A Few Buttons For The Passenger
If the act of merely sitting in the passenger seat of a 2014 Corvette isn’t enough, and the passenger begins to feel left out thanks to the driver-oriented cockpit, fear not: the co-pilot can be entertained with a few buttons on a micro-LED screen placed below the passenger-side air vent. The buttons allow for the adjustment of passenger-side climate control and seat ventilation.
Even better, the screen is positioned away from the performance features of the center stack panel, negating any and all reasons for the passenger to
use mess with interfere with any of the performance features in the center stack. That’s the way it should be.
The C7’s driver-focused cockpit is made up of four primary features: the Driver Mode Selector, standard dual high-resolution re-configurable screens, and a Head-Up Display.
Driver Mode Selector
At the core of the Corvette Stingray’s driver-focused technologies is the Driver Mode Selector (DMS). The rotary knob, which is positioned directly behind the shifter, allows drivers to optimize 12 vehicle attributes to suit their driving preference and road conditions. Five settings are available, including Weather, Eco, Tour, Sport and Track.
- Tour mode is the default setting and is meant for everyday driving
- Weather mode is designed for added confidence while driving in the rain or snow
- Eco mode is for those concerned with achieving optimal fuel economy
- Sport model is for spirited road driving
- Track mode is for, you guess it, the track
“The all-new Corvette Stingray is really three cars in one: It provides the comfort and functionality of a long-distance GT car, the connectedness and infotainment of a daily driver and the acceleration, grip and braking of a capable track car,” said Harlan Charles, product manager.
“With the Driver Mode Selector, we wanted to give the driver an easy way to tailor virtually every aspect of the car to fit their driving environment. The result is a more rewarding, more confident experience, whether you’re commuting in a downpour or charging through the corkscrew at Laguna Seca.”
The Driver Model Selector adjusts twelve parameters with each selection, including:
- Gauge cluster configuration: the Tour, Eco and Weather modes feature displays for trip data, audio and navigation; Sport mode shows classic, easy-to-read sports car gauges; and Track mode’s configuration shows a gauge design based on the Corvette Racing C6.R race car display with lap timer
- ETC (Electronic Throttle Control): adjusts the throttle input curve for the selected mode for improved responsiveness
- Paddle-shift automatic transmission: adjusts shift comfort and shift points
- Active Fuel Management: in normal mode, the LT1 engine uses V-8 power during acceleration and V-4 power when coasting; in Eco mode the engine remains in V-4 mode to improve fuel economy until aggressive acceleration is needed
- Exhaust (active exhaust system): the system adjusts the timing of the electronically controlled exhaust valves to enhance audible feedback from the V8 depending on the drive mode
- Electronic limited-slip differential (Z51): adjusts the rate at which the limited slip engages, to balance between steering response and stability in different driving conditions; more aggressive performance in Sport and Track modes
- Steering: assist effort is adjusted in the modes to provide the driver with the correct steering feel for the driving condition
- Magnetic Ride Control: adjusts shock damping based on road conditions, from optimized comfort to performance driving
- Launch control: available in Sport and Track modes for manual and automatic transmissions, providing maximum off-the-line acceleration
- Active handling (StabiliTrak stability control): a “competitive” setting is available in Sport and Track modes and is more suited for on-track conditions. It can also be disabled, giving the driver complete control
- Traction control: weather mode tailors traction control and engine torque for driving in inclement conditions
- Performance Traction Management: available in the Sport and Track modes and offers five settings of torque reduction and brake intervention for track driving
Taking all of this into consideration, the claim that the 2014 Corvette Stingray is really three cars in one begins to make that much more sense.
Configurable Screens & Head-Up Display
Outside of pretty LED-based head- and tail-lamp treatments, the hottest trend in the automotive industry these days is to stuff as much technology into a vehicle’s instrument cluster and center stack as possible. But Corvette engineers and designers didn’t just stuff the 2014 Vette with tech wizardry for the sake of doing so.
Instead, they carefully added three configurable displays — a pair of eight-inch screens that are part of the latest incarnation of Chevrolet MyLink, along with a color head-up display (HUD) to convey different performance parameters of each drive mode — an approach not unlike that taken with the Corvette’s functional exterior to enhance the driving experience, especially at high speeds.
And remember those field trips taken by the Corvette team to Milford? Well, they also resulted in tweaks to aspects of the configurable digital screens in the instrument panel.
“Early in the development process, we spent time on the track, driving Corvettes hard. That experience shaped many parts of the interior, such as the instrument display in Track Mode,” said Corvette Interior Design Manager Ryan Vaughan. “At 120 mph, you experience a sort of tunnel vision, as you concentrate on the next turn. At that moment, you don’t need to know the next song playing on the radio.”
The fully reconfigurable instrument cluster offers three different modes, including:
- Sport Mode: made up of an analog-like tachometer on the outside and reconfigurable areas inside of the cluster. The driver can add the reconfigurable area to contain a digital speedometer, radio station/track/track number info, a friction bubble (which tracks lateral and longitudinal G-forces), along with other information.
- Touring Mode: slides the tach to the side and makes it less dominant, while adding infotainment displays, navigation, and other info.
- Race Mode: dominated by an easy-to-read bar graph tach inspired by the C6R (exemplary of track-to-street transfer). It includes a digital speedometer, the drive gear, and a reconfigurable area beneath the bar-graph tach.
Not only are the two eight-inch screens in the C7 informative, but they were designed to deliver excellent visibility in direct sunlight. The screen in the instrument cluster delivers 650 cd/m2 of brightness, while the unit in the center stack provides 1,000 cd/m2 — making it among the brightest screens in the industry.
Center Stack Display
And even though drivers may have all the information they may possibly need in the instrument cluster, they can operate the touch screen unit in the center stack using gestures, as the system contains gesture recognition support. Drivers can also lower the center screen to access a hidden storage compartment that includes a USB input for charging devices or uploading data.
The C7’s advanced MyLink infotainment system offers high-definition radio and enhanced OnStar with 3D navigation maps. An additional USB port is located in the center console, as are a stand-alone audio input jack and an SD card slot.
Rounding out the feature list is the memory driver’s seat, along with available Bose audio, push-button door releases, and a push-button parking brake.
An optional 10-speaker Bose audio system includes a bass box and two subwoofers. According to GM, the speakers “deliver greater sound quality with reduced weight and size.”
Push-Button Door Releases
Continuing with the trend established by the C6, the C7 features electric push-button door releases, rather than traditional pull handles. In the rare case of a system failure, a mechanical release lever is available on the outboard of each seat.
Push-Button Park Brake
Those looking to hoon around corners using the e-brake are out of luck: the new Corvette does away with the mechanical lever-based braking system in favor of a push-button electric park brake. For what it’s worth, the set-up saves space in the cabin, while professional race car drivers and instructors would be quick to point out that if you’re using the e-brake to get around a turn, you’re doing something wrong.
In case you haven’t yet noticed, all of the switches in the 2014 Corvette are “push-button” — including the switch to start (and stop) the engine. The system is integrated with a keyless access system, which is mighty convenient.
Frameless Rearview Mirror
Rounding out the interior goodness of the 2014 Vette is the (sweet) frameless rearview mirror first introduced on the 2013 Chevy Camaro. We’ve already sung the praises of this particular feature, but in case you haven’t seen it yet — the mirror finally takes these otherwise boring appliances into the 21st century. Looks like we were right about it making its way to other models in the GM stable.
All in all, the interior of the seventh-generation Corvette is the embodiment of respecting the craft of designing a fine automotive interior. Not only is it high in quality materials and fine design, but it also serves to enhance the driving experience of the vehicle, allowing an even greater connection between human and machine — the way it should be.
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