The issue with being a freelance automotive writer is that sometimes you don’t get the highly coveted cars to test until long after the hype has died down.
It’s a problem you learn to get used to over time, but it often leaves you scrambling to come up with a different angle than all the other journalists who’ve driven the car and flooded the Internet with their opinions and photos.
In a lot of cases, finding that unique perspective can be a little challenging. However, with the buzz on the new Corvette still so high, I knew finding a fresh angle for this one would be a little easier.
Well, in all honesty, I had one in mind for months. When I found out I’d be getting my hands on a Velocity Yellow convertible model in Los Angeles equipped with the Z51 package, it worked out perfectly.
As far as performance, I knew there wouldn’t be much I could add to that discussion that hadn’t already been said about the car a hundred times or more. Still, with those Malibu canyon roads so close, I wanted to get a feel for the C7’s capabilities myself.
No breaking news here, but the new Corvette really does perform as well as everyone says it does. From cornering to shifting, it’s a thrill to drive.
What’s most impressive is how everything about the car from a performance standpoint seems so in tune with the driver.
Okay, a moment of self-disclosure here: when it comes to high-performance driving, I’d rate myself as average at best, but I think that’s one of the beauties of the new Corvette: it does a good job at compensating in those areas where you might be lacking, so you can still fully appreciate the experience of being at the wheel.
I liken it to riding a roller coaster and thinking that as crazy as that last loop was, you still pulled it off even though all you basically had to do was hang on.
Oh, and hearing that exhaust note with the top down is well worth the upcharge for the convertible alone; however, that’s been covered in other reviews as well.
That said, I decided to zero in on a looming question that’s interested me since the new Corvette first debuted at the 2013 North American International Auto Show. The looming question is that after years of hardly getting any respect in LA, one of the most competitive sports car markets in the world, is the C7 hot enough to change the perception of the Corvette in the City of Angels?
Personal? Maybe. See, as a native of the Midwest where the ‘Vette has always maintained its status as an aspirational vehicle, I, like others from the area, grew up being a fan of the car. The idea of ripping out pictures of Ferraris and Lamborghinis from car mags and posting them on the wall never even occurred to me as a kid.
The Corvette was always the ultimate dream car.
In fact, I can recall being 11 or 12 years old living in Toledo, Ohio and saying, “I’m going to be just like my next-door neighbor,” because he drove a yellow Corvette. I’m sure others share similar stories of how they first fell in love with the car.
However, on a trip to LA about ten years ago when test driving a C5 model, I was hit with the rude awakening that a lot of that passion for the ‘Vette didn’t quite resonate in LA
That realization became crystal clear at a popular Beverly Hills restaurant, where after having lunch I asked the valet if he’d parked the Corvette I was driving in front, to which he replied with a smirk, “No, it’s in the back.”
It’s no secret that aside from the more classic models, the Corvette has struggled to garner respect in LA in recent years, especially among younger car buyers.
Sure, with Corvette sales now up more than 200 percent, and orders backed up for months, the C7 is hardly in need of Hollywood’s stamp of approval. It’s already proven to be a hit; however, in positioning the car for the future, Chevy is certainly counting on the C7 to change the perception of the ‘Vette in Southern California.
It’s not that the Corvette hasn’t been deserving of more respect in markets like LA I’ve even heard a few import car buyers acknowledge that the outgoing C6 model was one of the best performance cars in the segment for the money.
Still, the general consensus has been that it’s, “still a Corvette,” indicative of the car’s inability to shake some of the stigma that has haunted it in the past when matched against other nameplates in the segment.
Fast forward to my recent test drive of the C7, and you get a completely different take on the car. From Beverly Hills to Malibu, my Velocity Yellow model literally stole the show. I couldn’t stop anywhere without someone walking up and commenting about the car or gawking over it.
In fact, I even noted in one of my Facebook postings during my test drive that I caught a few people driving some much more exclusive cars trying to sneak a peek.
After shooting some 300-plus photos of my Corvette loaner during my three-day test run, I found that not only does the C7 stand out in LA, but also it really shines in the land of Lamborghinis and Ferraris.
It speaks to the power of “in-the-field” research, which holds far more weight than just my personal opinion of a car’s star power.
Take, for example, the comments made by Dror Avisov, a guy I met at a gas station in LA when testing the car. After seeing the C7 in person and having an opportunity to check out the interior, he said, “The new Corvette is really the new Ferrari — not for the poor, but even the rich. It looks fast and expensive, and now the most amazing change is the amazing interior. Wow, I never expected [this]. Every detail is perfect.”
“Nice car,” yelled a kid seeing me get out of the new Corvette at a restaurant in Studio City.
One of the most telling responses came from Matthew Carhill (pictured above), a valet at the Redbury Hotel, a popular Hollywood nightspot.
“I love this car,” said Carhill. “It’s beautiful. I was never a really huge Corvette fan, but this year’s model is amazing. I drive so many European sports cars, it’s nice to see an American muscle car that can compete with those now.”
Carhill sums up a lot of the feedback I got about the new Corvette during my test drive, which pretty much solidifies its newfound star appeal in LA It’s an impressive statement for a sports car priced at $76,000 as tested — a fraction of what most spend on those high-end imports you see in Hollywood.
Even more importantly, the C7 is still very much the same Corvette many of us grew up dreaming about as a kid, just with a whole lot more to love.