The new Corvette Stingray is the car everyone and his or her mother wants to get their hands on. As we were discussing our frustration for not seeing the Detroit Motor Show’s most anticipated new model driven by someone else aside from the company’s people, we had an epiphany.
The Corvette Stingray is already available for us to drive whenever we feel like it, for as long as we like and on any track in the world. True, it’s not in the metal, but in virtual form via the free DLC (that's downloadable content to the uninitiated) on the Gran Turismo 5 (GT5) Playstation video game.
It won’t surprise you to learn that the Nürburgring was the first circuit that sprung to mind. Then again, it is way too long and too difficult to learn and a mistake in any one of its 100+ corners, which is almost inevitable, would instantly invalidate any lap time.
Laguna Seca is also a demanding track, plus it’s nearly seven times shorter than the Nordschleife and is used by many U.S. publications for testing purposes. California it is, then, so we handed over the PS3 to CarScoop’s own lame racing driver.
Some say that in his spare time he moonlights as Jeremy WantSome, the main host/producer/moneymaker of a famous automotive TV show, and that, since he won’t have a chance to claim the throne, he’s resolved to getting richer and older than the Queen of England.
All we know is that he’s called….The Wig.
When we pondered whether we could really look forward to any data that would make sense, his reply was “I could always take a ride on the passenger’s seat of a real car and tell you how sweetly it steers and how wonderfully composed it feels, if that’s your cup of tea”…
Point taken; let’s choose the rivals, then.
For the first part of our virtual comparison test, the 2013 SRT Viper was a no-brainer. Sadly, it’s not available yet so we came up with the next best thing: the previous Dodge Viper in stock SRT10 and ACR forms.
Then we decided to throw in a couple of C6 Corvettes, namely the Z06 and the ZR1, on the grounds that the new Stingray is, like them, built around an aluminum chassis and it would be interesting to see how the base 2014 model fares against performance versions of its predecessor.
Enough said; it’s time to drive and learn what The Wig made of the new Stingray and its competitors.
“Initially the new Stingray feels a bit cumbersome,” he said. “It could do with a firmer suspension set-up as the front end washes out too easily on tight corners and understeer is a lap-time killer. That’s something I guess a sportier package will fix; even so, if you are very progressive on the throttle, even the standard ‘Vette manages a quite respectable time. In fact, its best lap was quicker than that of the Z06 – and that’s quite an achievement.”
We bet it is; but what about its rivals?
“An ‘axe-murderer’ doesn’t even begin to describe the old Viper: try ‘an axe-murderer on LSD' and you might get close. It will understeer heavily and then snap to oversteer, it has its own mind about where it wants to go. No wonder it finishes last or that the SRT department wants you to know the new one is so much better to drive,” stated The Wig.
“That said, the ACR is a different kind of animal altogether. For starters, it sounds like a racing car. The handling, too, is much better in that you can accurately steer this beast and feel it respond to your commands. Clocking a fast lap requires much concentration but its utterly rewarding. This is how a Viper should be.”
How did the two sixth-generation Corvettes fare, then?
“Well, the Z06 is light on its feet and responds to steering inputs readily. With a few more laps at my disposal, it could have matched the Stingray – but that’s hardly the point. The ZR1 probably has too much power for its own good, at least on this circuit. You really have to be mindful of that or you ruin your lap in a millisecond. Get it right and it’s the fastest of the lot, although, the ACR came very close indeed.”
This concludes CarScoop’s very first virtual comparison test. You can scroll down and view the lap times clocked by the five American supercars around Laguna Seca. Stay tuned for Part 2 of our VR Corvette Stingray test that’s coming up soon.
Laguna Seca GT5 Lap Times
Corvette ZR1: 1:32.405
Dodge Viper ACR: 1:32.834
2014 Corvettte Stingray: 1:34.630
Corvette Z06: 1:35.100
Dodge Viper SRT10v: 1:36.613
CarScoop Disclaimer: All cars were rolling on Sport Soft tires, in standard configuration and bought virtually new (pun intended). Driving was done by an Alonso-wannabe in a completely digital environment. Please do try this at home and feel free to comment on The Wig’s lap times – or even try to beat him, if you can...
By Andrew Tsaousis