2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 Long-Term Verdict

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The Chevrolet Corvette’s main rival, the Porsche 911, is a car that its proponents say you can use every day. It’s compact yet relatively spacious, efficient yet fast, planted yet not at all jarring on real-world roadways. The 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 by all accounts should be a car that you can happily drive to work Monday through Friday and on a racetrack on Saturday and Sunday. Yet it isn’t.

I’ve developed a love-hate thing with the MT Garage Corvette Stingray over the past 25,000 miles and change. A lot of the time, I really adore the car—I mean, what’s not to love about a freaking Corvette? It’s loud, fast, and handles well. Plus, I mean, look at it—to my eye, the C7 Corvette is the best-looking ’Vette since the original ’60s Corvette Stingrays. It’s the modern first Corvette that seems like an aspirational goal for young’uns, not just a plaything for the stereotypical old fart in gold chains and track suits.

Aside from its rock star looks and rocket ship performance, it’s also proven itself remarkably practical. Although it’s down two mini-seats to its German archrival, the ’Vette makes up for it with a huge (for a sports car) 15-cubic-foot cargo area. The hatchback proved equally capable of hauling large boxes to the post office, carrying a week’s worth of groceries home from the store, or swallowing up luggage for two for long road trips.

Speaking of road trips, the Corvette really excels at them. With the drivetrain in Eco or Tour modes, the big, burly V-8 quiets right down, making conversation with your road trip buddy easy and effortless. The ride, it’s worth noting, is exceptionally nice. Despite the fact that our tester wasn’t specced with magnetic ride, the Corvette happily took to road imperfections, even allowing me to take West Los Angeles’ growing plague of speed bumps at, well, speed.

Our Corvette sadly wasn’t without its faults over the past 15 months. My biggest problem with the ’Vette was that it was making sounds it wasn’t supposed to make. The removable targa top rattled like a train click-clacking over rails, the steering wheel squeaks like a mouse, the driver door creaked when opening and closing, and the brakes squealed excessively. The only thing worse than your new car’s interior making a noise it isn’t supposed to be making is your new car’s cabin making four separate noises it isn’t supposed to be making. The creaks and rattles were maddening and seriously detracted from the ownership experience. It got to the point where I simply didn’t want to drive the Corvette every day because I was either sick of having to crank the stereo to drown out the noises or having to explain to my passenger why a brand-new $65,000 sports car sounded like an old Jeep.

We had other issues with the Corvette aside from the cacophony of cabin noises. The electric parking brake button would periodically stick when depressed, causing a “service parking brake” message to appear on the dash. We also had trouble with the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment display, which inexplicably stopped working one morning. The fix for the latter issue took about a week as our dealer awaited parts to replace both the MyLink display and instrument cluster screen. Like the cabin noises, the parking brake and infotainment issues were repaired under warranty. (Chevy didn’t fix the cabin noises until the very end of our loan, but they were eventually rectified under warranty.)

We spent a grand total of $0 on maintenance over the past year thanks to the Corvette’s 24 month/24,000 mile free maintenance guarantee, though we were on the hook for  $1,556.06 worth of tires. The ’Vette’s free maintenance makes it a bargain in the segment, especially when compared to the  $525.27 we spent on maintenance for our 2015 Camaro Z/28 and $766.70 we spent maintaining our old Nissan GT-R Black Edition long-term car.

The issues we’ve had with our Corvette appear not to be isolated incidents caused by lead-footed editors; a quick visit to a handful of Corvette forums reveals a host of C7 owners dealing with odd noises and electrical gremlins. Maybe that would help explain why GM has been through four quality chiefs in as many years.

Unlike some other early Corvette Stingrays, our Chevy was mechanically sound, but the quality issues severely detracted from both the ownership and driving experiences. For years—decades, even—the Corvette has been known as a budget world-beating sports car. Its owners and fans overlooked poor interior design and quality for the performance it packed under the hood and the relatively affordable mid-$50,000 sticker price. Those days should be long gone. Aside from the fact that $65 grand ain’t exactly chump change these days, the C7 Corvette is the first since the original Stingrays that has fully delivered on performance and design inside and out. It’s this close to being the total package—were GM to invest a few more dollars per car on improving interior fit, finish, and quality, I truly believe the Corvette could start winning the hearts and minds of 911 buyers.

Quality has been and for now remains the Corvette’s final frontier. Overcome that, though, and the Corvette won’t just be America’s sports car. It’d be a true world sports car, too. Sadly, until the day the Corvette’s quality issues are finally sorted out, its rival Porsche 911 will remain the sports car that you not only can use every day but that you’d want to drive every day too.

More on our long-term 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51:

Arrival Update 1: Daily-Driver Performance Update 2: Practically Speaking Update 3: New Perspectives on our Long-Term ‘Vette Update 4: A Week at the Dealer Update 5: Daily Driver Showdown Update 6: Fixing the Rattle Trap Our Car SERVICE LIFE 15 mo / 24,957 mi BASE PRICE $55,995 OPTIONS Z51 Performance Package ($5,000: 19-in fr/20-in rr wheels; dry sump oil system; electronic limited-slip diff; high-performance brakes, shocks, springs, stabilizer bars, tires and transmission ratios; heavy-duty engine, differential and transmission cooling; Aero Package), Performance Data Recorder ($1,795), Black Machined Wheels ($1,495), Red brake calipers ($595) PRICE AS TESTED $64,880 AVG ECON/CO2 17.7 mpg / 1.10 lb/mi PROBLEM AREAS Sticking parking brake, center display outage, targa creak, steering wheel squeak, front brake squeal, driver’s door squeak MAINTENANCE COST $0 (3-oil change, inspection; 2-tire rotation) NORMAL-WEAR COST $1,621 (1 set Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, mount and balance) 3-YEAR RESIDUAL VALUE* $33,738 RECALLS Rear toe link, driver front airbag, parking brake *Automotive Lease Guide data

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD ENGINE TYPE 90-deg V-8, alum block/heads VALVETRAIN OHV, 2 valves/cyl DISPLACEMENT 376.0 cu in/6,162cc COMPRESSION RATIO 11.5:1 POWER (SAE NET) 460 hp @ 6,000 rpm* TORQUE (SAE NET) 465 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm* REDLINE 6,600 rpm WEIGHT TO POWER 7.4 lb/hp TRANSMISSION 7-speed manual AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 3.42:1/1.64:1 SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Control arms, transverse leaf spring, anti-roll bar; multilink, transverse leaf spring, anti-roll bar STEERING RATIO 12.0-16.4:1 TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.4 BRAKES, F;R 13.6-in vented, slotted disc; 13.3-in vented, slotted disc, ABS WHEELS, F;R 8.5 x 19-in; 10.0 x 20-in, forged aluminum TIRES, F;R 245/35R19 89Y; 285/30R20 95Y Michelin Pilot Super Sport DIMENSIONS WHEELBASE 106.7 in TRACK, F/R 63.0/61.7 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 176.9 x 73.9 x 48.6 in TURNING CIRCLE 37.7 ft CURB WEIGHT 3,392 lb WEIGHT DIST., F/R 50/50% SEATING CAPACITY 2 HEADROOM 38.0 in LEGROOM 43.0 in SHOULDER ROOM 55.0 in CARGO VOLUME 15 cu ft TEST DATA ACCELERATION TO MPH 0-30 1.6 sec 0-40 2.2 0-50 3.1 0-60 3.8 0-70 4.7 0-80 6.0 0-90 7.2 0-100 8.6 0-110 10.5 0-120 12.6 PASSING, 45-65 MPH 1.7 QUARTER MILE 12.1 sec @ 117.8 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 101 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 1.05 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 23.5 sec @ 0.91 g (avg) TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,250 rpm CONSUMER INFO STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/yes AIRBAGS Dual front, front side/head BASIC WARRANTY 3 yrs/36,000 miles POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 5 yrs/100,000 miles ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 5 yrs/100,000 miles FUEL CAPACITY 18.5 gal EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 17/29/21 mpg ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY 198/116 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.93 lb/mile RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded premium *SAE Certified