Chevrolet to muscle in the Corvette in Q4

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In performance driving school livery, this pulse-quickening visual of a fleet of Corvette Stingrays that greeted motoring journalists for an action-packed day of driving.

It’s been a long time coming, and now the American automotive brand deems the Philippine market more than ready for their iconic muscle-bound Supercar, the Corvette Stingray.

The 2019 Corvette is slated to be officially launched in Manila by the fourth quarter of this year, as announced by Lyn Manalansang-Buena, senior vice president and director for Marketing of Chevrolet Philippines.

On this month in 1953, the brand with a bowtie launched the sports car that was destined to be a byword when it comes to American muscle cars, and a bona fide supercar that holds its own with the best that the European marquees can roll out.

Beneath the striking design, the Corvette has always been engineered to give its drivers an edge, utilizing lightweight materials such as fiberglass and aluminum, and a small-block V8 engine to optimize its power-to-weight ratio right from its first generation.

Currently on its 7th generation on its 65th year, the Chevrolet Corvette has advanced virtually by light years in every respect, but remains the all-American icon that’s now set to peel asphalt on our very own highways.

Fanboys’ dreams

It was in 1963 when the Corvette’s second generation release was given the nickname “Sting Ray,” which later on fused together as Stingray.

It’s this iteration’s shark-like exterior design that became the car’s unmistakable characteristic—an extended dash to axle length that matched its formidable performance.

It certainly was the shape that got me hooked into cars in the first place, as posters found its way on my walls, and countless drawings of it on my school notebooks (and desks).

Hardcore test drive

I had a teaser drive of the Corvette Z06 in 2006 in Las Vegas on a solo personal trip, and it lasted no more than 5 minutes on a Chevrolet demo track.

It was ultimately bitin, to put it mildly considering I’ve been lusting for it since ’81.

But as fate and wonderful coincidence would have it, I was to finally get my proper in-my-face intense test-drive with the 2018 Corvette Stingray in Vegas. On an actual racetrack a that. Yowza.

I’ve stifled my silly grin all the way from Manila, from which Chevrolet Philippines have flown us, a handful of fortunate journalists, to the Spring Mountain Motor Resort in Pahrump, Las Vegas, Nevada.

It’s a humongous top-rate private facility for gearheads that has a 2.2-mile racetrack as its centerpiece.

When we got there, neatly lined up and waiting was a fleet of Corvettes for us to have our way with, after some professional instruction, of course.

Speed buffet, anyone?

How about a delectable follow-the-leader set of laps, with medium-rare 130-mph blasts on the straights with hefty servings of lateral Gs while carving every curve? Yum.

It was a veritable all-you-can-handle smorgaspeed in the 455-hp Corvette Stingray, unlimited up to 12 p.m., although I won’t dare summarize it just like that.

We were already briefed beforehand that the Corvette ZR-1 on display just outside of the dining hall wasn’t joining the Stingray in the Philippines.

Well, perhaps with persistent intent, via indent order, eventually, but taking photos of the 755hp 212mph Supercharged V8-powered, ultra-light Italian Supercar-killer ZR-1 was as far as we were allowed.

With an ultra-aggressive set of ground effects and aerodynamic detailing that’s almost entirely made of carbon fiber, it was indeed a painfully beautiful Scarlet beast.

But we certainly we didn’t feel short-changed by being given full access to its slightly less fierce sibling.

The atmosphere in the performance-driving classroom was akin to a safety briefing in a shooting range, for good reason.

The Corvette is after all, an honest-to-goodness track weapon. Our first run was around an oval dotted with marker cones, for us to get a good initial feel of the car’s acceleration and braking, and right there and then it was safe to conclude that the car delivered both pretty well.

An excited right foot twitch on the throttle while on 3rd gear can easily coax the car to spin-out when all active driving aids are switched-off, so we learned to respect it early on.

Once we were going around it smoothly and without cause for giggling at each other, we were set free on the actual racetrack.

Getting used to the 8-speed paddle shifters was a cinch, as they were (when the car’s driving mode is set on Sport) true to gear, so to speak- meaning the car will behave as if it were being driven with a traditional stick shifter, and it’ll stay on whatever gear you’re on until you actually shift, as opposed to a token paddle-shifter that the car will override when it feels like it.

She’s all yours, Commander. The throaty roar of the V8 was glorious as you upshift from an abrupt launch, but the snarl when it engine-brakes upon downshifting is something else; those large diameter quad pipes at the rear do broadcast your progress unabashedly, though you literally feel that distinct low-end V8 rumble from your fingers, to the base of your pants up to your spine, and at speed it’s simply sensational.

On our second lap, we were encouraged to go flat-out on the straight, as we pressed against our backrests from the 460 Nm of torque that rushes out like water from a dam’s floodgates when you’re being aggressive.

It was impossible to go beyond 5th gear without the short straight running out, and we were admittedly thankful that was the case, for the Stingray is capable of hitting 60 mph from a standstill in only 3.7 seconds. So 130 mph on that straight took just a few more seconds to hit.

Can you handle superb handling?

With the well-bolstered premium leather-clad sport seats, to the cockpit-styled interior, everything sets the stage for a performance before you even disengage the handbrake.

The Corvette Stingray sort of fuses with you when you’re driving in the zone, but despite its surgically precise steering and impressively agile demeanor, it is devoid of any harshness whatsoever.

You’re slung low, connected to the road, but no teeth-chattering stiffness… until you take a curve. It then transforms into the Stingray Express on rails, without a fraction of give, if you’ve taken the corner correctly.

Lateral stability is superb, it’s your body that’ll take on the full brunt of the G’s. The weight of my crash helmet made my already big head even heavier, so I now know what it sounds (and feels like) to whack the A-pillar with it on every aggressive turn. Oh well, it’s a welcome distraction while keeping your breakfast down.

Long wait will soon be over

The fourth quarter of this year will be here in no time… or will take forever, depending on how excited you are for the Corvette Stingray’s arrival.

But at the very least a couple of generations of fans (and perhaps new ones too) can look forward to that day when Chevrolet unleashes the real American supercar icon, where we can actually get our hands on it.

Check out this link to watch our video feature of this amazing drive: www.facebook.com/L.INQph/videos/1478170762287060.



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