As a European, apart from eating double bacon cheeseburgers and drinking more coffee than ever before in your life, the best way to get the feel of the United States in to drive iconic American cars. In my case this was driving a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette while shouting 'Murica, fuck yeah!
If it's your first time in the US with the aim of meeting your fellow Jalops at the Gawker HQ in Lower Manhattan and you happened to spend the first two and a half years of your life behind the Iron Curtain, the number of communist jokes flying around is surprisingly high. That's okay though. As a European, you find enough things to make fun of too just by looking around on the street. Most American cars from the last four decades provide an easy target. But instead of playing the asshole angle, how about checking out the good stuff?
Travis asked me on Monday if I wanted to drive the new Corvette, and since I responded in the only possible way, he got me one by Thursday. GM was nice to us, really. Despite our differences and the issues raised by the combination of ice cold weather and a certain set of Michelin Pilot Super Sports on the car, they trusted us with a
pussy magnet velocity yellow Stingray Z51, with a bunch of extras like carbon fiber trim and magnetic suspension thrown in for good measure.
It looked inviting from the office window on the 4th floor, and it didn't disappoint from the ground level either.
I've never driven a Corvette before, and I know the C7 is very different than the ones before. But since that means it's better in every possible way than the previous six generations, I guess I don't need to drive an old Corvette to get the feeling anymore. This will do.
To me, the most astonishing thing about the Corvette is its price. New cars in America are ridiculously cheap anyway, but getting this much freedom for $52,000 shows you what's great about America. And by freedom, I mean the feeling that your sports cars' quality finally matches its performance. Therefore, you don't have to be ashamed anymore for choosing the Corvette over some foreign exotica, and in return, it won't kill you on a long trip. Instead of being the plastic fantastic compromise, the C7 is a great car overall. A proud moment for America.
As I was driving the car on
snowy bendy roads in New Jersey, I had to approve. Despite using approximately 10% of its performance due to zero grip, the 2014 Corvette felt like a very potent car even at lower speeds. I had a constant but dangerous urge to floor it at every light and — according to my legal advisor in the passenger seat — that was bad since if a foreigner get stopped for speeding, it's deportation time straight away. Travis is a very nervous passenger (He's right, I'm terrible in a car when I'm not behind the wheel. - TO).
America, fuck yeah. I think for a moment, I've even saw a bald eagle in the mirror.
I'm not sure though, everything happened so fast. The V8 gets plenty of power, and while the seventh gear on a manual is just one too many, it's nice to know that by using the cylinder deactivation cruising in seventh gear, the Corvette can return decent fuel economy on a longer trip. Smart.
On the other hand, what you want to do is floor it. With all of its eight cylinders. That's what it was made for. There's 'active sound management' which makes the exhaust open at all times as it was meant to be, and some plastics start to rattle in the cabin. You're grateful for that noise, as imperfections like that make it a proper Corvette.
There's also automatic rev-matching for downshifts for the middle aged dentist in all of us. Luckily, you can switch it off. And you should.
This is possibly one of the best cars America has ever produced, and one that's coming to Europe as well. So, I guess the question is would I buy one?
Well, no. I don't live in one of those states with constant sunshine. But if I did, I would. And I never thought I would say that about a Corvette.
The 2014 Corvette was a fantastic surprise, and I was happy to see some on the streets of New York already. Everybody seems to like the thing, we also got more thumbs ups in the city than you could imagine. There's love out there for pussy magnet yellow in New York and now in Budapest, too.