In terms of performance, the outgoing sixth-generation Corvette was one for the ages, offering as much as 638 horsepower packed into a chassis that could go wheel to wheel with Ferrari's finest. If the last Vette had an obvious weakness, it was a lingering 'Boogie Nights' vibe stemming from an interior that came across as an afterthought. The redesigned 2014 Corvette Stingray finally addresses that issue with a cabin that dares to breathe the word "luxury," replacing yards of plastic with upscale materials and a clean-sheet design. And, oh, yeah, it's also faster. The Corvette's new V-8 has direct injection and variable valve timing, helping to bump both power and fuel economy. The manual transmission is a seven-speed with active rev-matching, delivering the fun of a manual with the can't-miss downshifts of a dual-clutch automatic. With the Z51 performance package, GM says, the new Vette will pull a full G in corners. If this 450-horsepower animal is the base car, imagine what a Z06 or ZR1 will look like.
The most dramatic improvement, though, isn't under the hood but between the doors. A car that can generate this level of lateral acceleration demands serious seats, and the Corvette now offers two designs optimized for either the street or the track. "Our goal for this interior was wholesale change with performance in mind," says Ryan Vaughan, interior design manager. "In the past, if you said you needed a piece of foam to make the dash softer, the normal question would be 'How much will that cost?' Here, it was, 'How much will that weigh?'" [chevrolet.com]