"Carbon fiber started in aerospace, racing cars, high-end bicycles," said Jeuchter. "It's a very premium material, it's as stiff as steel at 1/5 the weight. It's also expensive. We've been pioneers on Corvette, ever since the 2004 model year putting carbon fiber on the street. It's been in our most expensive models, we've been driving the cost of carbon fiber down to the point where now we can offer it on the standard car in the hood to keep the weight off the front, and to drive weight to the rear wheels and off the roof to drive the center of gravity down and it also makes the roof easier to handle because you can take it off and put it in the back if you want open air driving."
While purists may scream of blasphemy about the car’s exterior, they’ll shout, Halleluiah, when they see the car’s interior.
When I sat in the car I couldn’t believe the improvements in terms of the tactile experience. Even the plastic elements feel softer. The A-pillars are wrapped in faux suede. The stitching is precise. Leather accents abound. The dash is all carbon fiber, beautiful, lightweight, and adds to the sophistication of the cockpit.
Two 8” Hi-Def screens are key and vivid visual elements. They are the brightest available—to overcome the bright summer sun when you take the roof off.
A single knob mounted behind the gearshift controls a dozen different driving features and characteristics. You can fine-tune the car’s performance for a variety of road and weather conditions with a twist and a poke.
Let It Be
I’ll be the first to admit I was a bit ambivalent about many features and changes to the 2014 Stingray. My affair with the car began in 1966 when a neighbor drove me to school—the third passenger squeezed into the tiny hidey-hole that passed for storage. Can you imagine that in today’s safety-obsessed world? I cried the cold January day in 1969 when it splintered into a million pieces in a slow-speed encounter with a lamppost.
But this is reality. My 20-year-old son would never put a Corvette on his aspirational radar. It’s not relevant.
If we want this iconic brand to have a future, it needs to break with its past and be none too subtle about it.
So, like a new song, new flavor, or new artist, I’m going to give it 6 months before I pass judgment. I have a feeling a lot of these polarizing new features will grow on me. If I could get over the demise of pop-up headlamps, I can perhaps embrace the new tails. I’ll give its creators the final word.
"Great designs are always somewhat polarizing. In fact, really good designs take a while to grow on you 'til you know you absolutely love it and can't live without it. So we stretched the envelope a little bit, but we really want to showcase to the world we've got the design, technology, and performance to compete with anybody," says Jeuchter.
Tom Peters offers no apologies: "I think you aren't doing your job as a designer if you aren't pushing things and making it a little uncomfortable out there. But if it's done beautifully, it will prove out. You can speak the same way relative to music or architecture or anything. You gotta move it!"
And when this model is launched in a year, just watch it move.
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