Base Camp: 2022 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
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Every week, wheels.ca selects a new vehicle and takes a good look at its entry-level trim. If we find it worthy of your consideration, we’ll let you know. If not, we’ll recommend one – or the required options – that earns a passing grade.
When the new Stingray showed up ready for duty at an event back in mid-2019, it marked the first time that a mass-production Corvette placed its engine near the spine of its driver. Not only was the engine placement suspiciously supercar-like, its level of performance (to say nothing of the noises emanating from its exhaust) cemented this Corvette as a giant slayer.
Sure, there are now Z06 spec opportunities and decked-out 3LTs that see more time at the golf club than a speedway. But what does one get for their $70,998 entry-level Corvette? While enduring another Canadian winter dreaming of summertime lapping at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, you know the Base Camp crew just had to find out.
And, no, it’s not your imagination – that base price has risen in the couple of model years the new Stingray has been on the market. Inflation, don’tcha know. Regardless, there is still a 6.2-litre V8 engine tucked behind the driver’s right ear, making 490 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed dual clutch transmission might make purists cry into their Turtle Wax but the reality is this gearbox can shift with more speed and authority than the vast majority of people holding a valid driver’s license. Rear-wheel drive lets the good (lap) times roll, and healthy stoppers get things whoa’d up in a hurry.
While most so-called gearheads claim to prefer performance cars with the interior resembling a monk’s cave for weight savings, the reality is that great swaths of humanity would rather not sit on a bare aluminum seat while sweatin’ to the oldies without air conditioning. For 2022, the Stingray 1LT comes with a dandy 10-speaker Bose audio setup, an 8-inch infotainment system packing wireless Apple CarPlay, and GT1 bucket seats that are designed for comfort and support in the turns. The driver faces a leather-wrapped steering wheel and 12-inch digital gauge cluster that can be configured umpteen different ways. And be sure to spec the Adrenaline Red seat upholstery.
Stingray comes with 19-inch Michelin performance rubber in the front and 20-inchers out back, the latter setting down a 305-section footprint. This snazzy Torch Red is a no charge paint option, but should you feel the need to not evoke the famous Prince song every time you thumb the starter button, a trio of zero-dollar greyscale hues are available. Tasty colours like Elkhart Lake Blue and Accelerate Yellow are $995 premiums. Beyond those selections, a wide array of extra-cost stripe packages await to help make your Stingray one-of-a-kind.
What We’d Choose
Arguments have been waged and friendships ripped asunder debating inclusion of the Z51 Performance Package. At issue is its heady price of $7,495 which represents well over 10 percent of this car’s base sticker. Still, the features are legion: a few extra ponies in the engine, upgraded brakes, Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, heavy duty cooling, and an aggressive exhaust. The trick rear end gear and diff must also be mentioned, since it permits the Stingray to fling itself to 60 m.p.h. from a dead stop in less than three seconds according to Chevy.
We’ll note that the performance exhaust is available as a $1,375 stand-alone option, so it is possible to get that world-destroying Z51 sound without breaking the bank. The extrovert in me also wants to spec the $1,145 engine appearance package which adds carbon fibre jewelry and, ahem, LED lighting so gawkers can get a better view of the 6.2-litre resting under the rear window. Hey, not all decisions are logical … but $495 for red seat belts may be a bridge too far.
It may have taken decades for the Corvette to finally switch to a mid-engine configuration – but now that it has, it’s all the better for it.