The mid-engined Chevy Corvette benefits from some minor improvements and some tweaks aimed at making the 2021 model easier to live with and more attractive. Not that a head spin like the C8 ‘Vette wasn’t already tremendously addicting to begin with, but hey, every little help helps.
The 2021 Corvette Stingray is still powered by a 6.2-liter V8 engine that produces 490 horsepower and 465 Nm of torque. This example features the performance exhaust upgrade, which brings power to 495 hp and 470 lb-ft. The extra power is good, but this is an optional box that you’ll control more for the more throaty sound the exhaust makes in Sport and Track modes than any appreciable difference in performance.
However, the performance exhaust isn’t as loud as you might think. Sure, it’ll let out a good bark as it starts up and howl pleasantly during the full chat in the Corvette’s sportier driving modes, but in the city and on the highway, the Chevy’s cabin is surprisingly quiet. Likewise, Magnetic Selective Ride Control – which may now be optional independently of the Z51 performance package for 2021 – never makes the car feel hard on bumps, even when shock firmness is increased.
Torque is sent to the rear wheels via a standard eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, over which manual control can be exercised via the standard shift levers. Acceleration is obviously good; with nearly 500 ponies pulling just 3,366 pounds, sprinting from 0 to 60 mph takes just 3 seconds. Not bad at all.
Going straight is fun, but I really like the way the Stingray cuts corners. The mid-engine configuration totally changes the Corvette’s driving dynamics compared to its predecessors. The short hood and impressive forward visibility make it easy to precisely position the car exactly where you want it on the road. The pivot point of the chassis seems to drop right where my hips meet the seat, creating a trust-inspiring connection between my inputs and coupe feedback. Power is abundant; the suspension is firm, but not punitive. This car is remarkably easy to drive and even easier to drive fast.
The Vette’s three driving modes – Touring, Sport and Track – are selected by turning a knob on the center console, right next to the electronic shifting. For even easier access, there’s a Z button on the steering wheel that activates a driver-customizable performance mode with a twitch of the thumb.
Trio of trim levels
All C8 Corvettes are technically convertible, you just have to decide if you want a removable roof panel or a full-power retractable hardtop. From there, buyers can choose from three trim levels. The 1LT is the well-equipped base model with an 8-inch touchscreen running the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system and a 12-inch digital instrument cluster. New for 2021 are wireless connections for the standardAnd tech and a new digital speedometer display option on the instrument screen.
The upgrade to the 2LT model adds a head-up display, integrated navigation software, premium Bose audio, and wireless phone charging. The GT1 seats in the 1LT are upgraded with electric lumbar and wing adjustment, which is nice, and the buckets get heated and ventilated surfaces.
Perhaps the most important upgrade to the 2LT model is the rearview mirror, which should really come standard on a vehicle with poor rear visibility like that of the Stingray. It takes a while to get used to – you have to look at it rather than through it – but it’s a huge upgrade over the slit rearview you would otherwise get. The 2LT trim level also adds blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic warning, which help manage the Coupé’s huge blind spots. Also standard on the 2LT is a Curb View camera, which helps keep those offset wheels – 19-inch forward and 20-inch rear – free from rashes.
My loaded 3LT example updates the interior with leather and suede trim and swaps the GT2 seats with Nappa leather and carbon fiber accents. These seats look sweet but are not very comfortable. They are a little too tight in the shoulder, but surprisingly not in the midsection or hips, which makes longer units painful. And since carbon fiber seat shells come with an adjustment cost, there’s nothing to do but smile and bear it.
My example has a Rapid Blue exterior paired with a Tension and Twilight Blue interior which tends to be too blue, but looks great … until you sit in the driver’s seat during the day and see that the blue leather dash shines and reflects on the windshield. Perhaps keep a more subdued theme with a completely black dashboard when specifying yours.
Personally I would prefer the 2LT setup. It gives you all the bells and whistles that matter and keeps the best version of GT1 seats for everyday driving. And you’ll save $ 4,650 by skipping the skin, which can be used better elsewhere.
Convenience and fussy
Normally I’m a big fan of physical buttons in a car’s cockpit, but the Corvette’s climate control bank is a bit of a mess. It’s a long vertical strip that runs along the crest of the center console and takes too long to find the feature you’re looking for. Fortunately, the standard automatic temperature control means you can set it and forget it, but that also means you’ll be out of practice when it comes time to quickly make an adjustment or toggle between heated or cooled seats while driving.
One physical button that I particularly like is the one dedicated to activating the front and surround camera. It is easily accessible at the front of the center console, just below the screen. Many other vehicles hide this feature in menus which can be difficult to access quickly. I prefer this dedicated button that can be tapped for instant camera access and peace of mind when squeezing into a parking lot.
Owners with steep driveways will also appreciate the Front Lift option, which raises the front suspension about 2 inches in about 3 seconds. The system remembers up to 1,000 GPS locations where the lift was installed, so you don’t have to press the button every time you walk into your driveway or approach that particularly nasty bump on your commute. Keep your speed below 24 mph as you approach a remembered position for an automatic nose lift over the obstacle.
The practicality of the two-seater Corvette continues to impress me. The space under the hood left free by the engine leaves room for a medium to large size hand luggage. Meanwhile, there’s room for two small golf bags stacked in the trunk behind the engine compartment – or a big old bag, if you’re a PGA pro. Obviously, you lose that rear compartment if you want to stow the coupe’s detachable roof panel, but keep the top over your head and two people can pack quite generously for a long weekend.
The tailgate has a soft closing function similar to the doors of an S-Class, so when you gently lower the lid, an engine secures the latch with a pull. However, the hood does not share this feature, which is a shame. You’ll need to give the lightweight composite lid a good, hard slam every time – you’ll feel like you break it, but add some oomph to make sure the frunk closes properly. If you don’t and the Chevrolet detects the hood lifting at speed, it will electronically limit the ‘Vette to 35 mph until you stop and address the issue. This is better than the hood flipping violently onto the windshield, but a soft close feature like the rear would be a better solution.
The 2021 Corvette also features a new Buckle-to-Drive feature that prevents the transmission from moving out of the park before the driver’s seat belt is fastened. This new setting can be disabled in a menu – which you may want to do when using a third-party racing harness in a track situation – but it will still beep persistently if you attempt to drive unfastened on public roads.
Prices and competition
Another thing that hasn’t changed for 2021 is the price of the Corvette. The Coupe starts at $ 60,995 for the base 1LT, including the $ 1,095 destination tax, reaching $ 71,945 for the 3LT before options. As tested, this example is priced at $ 80,020 thanks to the front lift option ($ 1,995), Magnetic Ride Control ($ 1,895), performance exhaust ($ 1,195), and visual upgrades to the wheels, paint and engine compartment .
It may sound expensive for a Chevy, but remember that the only other mid-engined sports cars beyond the six figures are the Porsche 718 Cayman and Boxster models, both of which are very good competitors but also with half the cylinders and around 100 fewer ponies in theirs. more expensive S models. The 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is priced to compete in a seemingly class of its own.