Gentlemen of the automotive press, start singing your praises:
“After months of anticipation and hype, Chevrolet is finally letting the next-generation Corvette out for test drives as the automotive media descends on Monterey Car Week,” writes David Undercoffler in the Los Angeles Times. “Though brief, our dalliance with a coupe version revealed that General Motors has hit the mark, balancing a towering legacy with the technological demands of a new century.”
Its only fault, he goes on to say, may be that this seventh-generation iteration Stingray, dubbed the C7, “dumps the iconic round tail lights and soft curves in favor of an angular profile.” But the “digital look” doesn’t “necessarily make the car more youthful” -- and if it doesn’t start appealing to youth (just 2.6% of buyers are 34 or under, according to R.L. Polk & Co.), it’s unlikely to gain the traction it needs.
“We want to maintain our relationship with Corvette loyalists, but we have to go after a new generation of buyers,” Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter tells Paul A. Eisenstein of The Detroit Bureau. “That’s all the more important if the new Stingray is to deliver on its original purpose, to put a halo around the overall Chevrolet brand.”
In other words, baby boomer males with middle-age crises are not in unlimited lifetime supply. Indeed, there is a raft of competitors for that demographic, though most will set you back more than the C7’s base sticker price of $52,000 or so. Not that competition isn’t a good thing.
In an interesting bit of marketing history, Detroit Free Press auto critic Mark Phelan reminds us that when the car was introduced, “Chevrolet created a stir by planting the first few ’Vettes with movie stars, public figures and high-profile executives, but the car nearly failed. Sales were so slow in 1954, the second model year, that GM nearly dropped the car,” he reports. “The Corvette might not have survived if Ford hadn’t ignited GM’s competitive fires by launching its own two-seater, the 1955 Thunderbird.”
“Research firm IHS Automotive expects General Motors to produce 12,000 units this year and 30,000 next year,” according toAutomotive News’ Mike Colias in an article that takes a look at possible price gouging by dealers looking to “take advantage of feverish early demand for the first ’Vette redesign in seven years.”
Colias also says that “More of the cars than usual likely will be earmarked for overseas as GM seeks to build the Corvette brand globally,” although General Motors would not comment on production issues. They have said, however, that GM has no plans to sell the car in China, contrary to some reports last week, Manoli Katakis reports on the GM Authority blog.
The LA Times’ Undercoffler describes the new tail lights as “trapezoids now, with black vents on the outside of each pair resembling streaks of mascara,” concluding that “the new look grabs attention but lacks emotion” in its efforts to attract younger eyes.
“The added angularity of the body and lighting works to make the car feel more modern, but it's going to be a personal thing whether you like it or not,” writes the BBC “Top Gear” blogger Pat Devereux.
If you’re one of those folks who, like my son, view the automobile as a moving, throbbing and thrumming bass-beat generator, every Corvette C7 not only has active noise cancellation to lessen road and tire noise, “14-liter bass enclosure built into the car's rear bulkhead enhances the booms you want and cancels the ones you don't,” Edmonds’ Josh Jacquot pointed out last month. And there’s also an optional 10-speaker Bose audio system with two subwoofers.
"No Corvette has ever boomed like this one," says Corvette chief engineer Juechter.
Which may, along with the Tarzan-like call of the engine, also cancel out any objections to those tail lights.