2015 Chevrolet Corvette

What's new for 2015? The 2015 Corvette gets an eight-speed automatic transmission option (replacing last year's six-speed), upgraded OnStar functionality with a 4G LTE data connection and mobile Wi-Fi hotspot capability, an available Performance Data Recorder with in-car video and a handful of minor trim changes. Did we miss anything? Oh, there is the minor detail of the all-new 650-horsepower Z06 model debuting this year as well.

The current-generation Chevrolet Corvette isn't exactly a car that was crying out for major improvements. When the latest, redesigned model (the "C7") debuted last year, we heralded it as "the most complete and refined Corvette yet," with so much power that it's as if "Chevy secretly strapped a rocket engine underneath the car." But the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette lineup sees the new-generation Z06's debut -- in both removable-roof coupe and soft-top convertible forms -- and we fear we're running out of analogies. If the base 455-hp V8 is a rocket engine, the Z06's supercharged 650-hp V8 is akin to the solid rocket boosters that gave liftoff to the Space Shuttle.

But the new Corvette's fundamental excellence continues to be the real story, from its vastly improved interior to its unprecedentedly capable -- and approachable -- handling. You can even squeeze 30 mpg out of the base engine on a highway cruise if you try hard enough. The newest generation, which we learned during a 27,000-mile long-term test of a 2014 Corvette, also doesn't feel like it was built to a price; it just feels world-class in practically every respect.

Exterior Highlights
Coupe or convertible in base Stingray, Stingray Z51 or Z06 trims. Stingray and Stingray Z51 are split into 1LT, 2LT and 3LT sub-trims, and the Z06 is split into 1LZ, 2LZ and 3LZ sub-trims

The 2015 Chevrolet Corvette is offered as a coupe or convertible in base Stingray, Stingray Z51 or Z06 trim. The coupe features a removable roof panel that stows in the trunk, while the convertible has a power soft top that can be operated while the car is moving at speeds up to 30 mph. The Stingray and Stingray Z51 are split into 1LT, 2LT and 3LT sub-trims; the Z06 comes in 1LZ, 2LZ and 3LZ sub-trims.

The Corvette Stingray 1LT starts with 18-inch front and 19-inch rear wheels, Brembo brakes, xenon headlights, heated mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. Cabin technology highlights include OnStar (with this year's 4G LTE data connection with WiFi hotspot capability), Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, an 8-inch color driver information display, an 8-inch central touchscreen with Chevy's MyLink infotainment interface, a rearview camera and a nine-speaker Bose sound system with two USB ports, an auxiliary audio jack, an SD card reader and satellite radio.

The Stingray Z51 1LT adds 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels, exterior aero trim, larger front brakes, slotted brake rotors, sportier suspension tuning, revised transmission gear ratios (manual only), an electronic limited-slip differential, a differential cooler, dry-sump oiling for the V8 engine and a dual-mode performance exhaust (optional on non-Z51 Stingrays).

All Stingray 2LT models come with auto-dimming driver-side and rearview mirrors, a head-up display, a cargo shade, interior-color console and armrest trim, heated and ventilated seats with power lumbar and side bolster adjustments, driver memory settings and an upgraded Bose sound system with a subwoofer.

The 3LT models add premium leather upholstery with extended surface coverage, an interior-color instrument panel and a navigation system (optional on 1LT and 2LT) that includes the Performance Data Recorder feature.

Stingray Z51 models in the 2LT or 3LT sub-trim are eligible for a pair of new-for-2015 appearance packages. The Pacific Design package (for the coupe) includes black racing stripes, black wheels, red brake calipers, carbon-fiber exterior and interior trim and sport seats. The Atlantic Design package (for the convertible), which Chevy evocatively describes as "inspired by the luxury and performance of private jets seen at European vacation destinations," includes a Z06-style front splitter, "stinger" graphics on the hood and tonneau cover, gray exterior vents, a Stingray-themed underhood liner and custom luggage. (Maybe the luggage is the European part.)

Note that all Z51 models can be equipped with adaptive suspension dampers that come bundled with an upgraded traction management system.

The Z06 departs from its fixed-roof, coupe-only tradition, sharing the regular Corvette's removable roof panel (coupe) and power soft top (convertible) for the first time. The Z06 1LZ starts with the Stingray Z51 1LT's standard equipment and adds the supercharged engine, the Z51's optional adaptive dampers, a Z06-specific sport-tuned suspension, larger brakes all around, wider tires, a carbon-fiber hood, a more aggressive aero package (including wider front and rear fenders, expanded cooling vents and a unique front grille and rear fascia), the head-up display and a flat-bottomed steering wheel with carbon-fiber spokes.

The Z06 2LZ gets the 2LT's upgrades minus the head-up display (already standard), while the Z06 3LZ gets the 3LT's upgrades plus synthetic-suede upper interior trim.

Z06 options include the Carbon-Fiber Aero package, which adds an enhanced carbon-fiber front splitter, carbon-fiber rocker panels and a larger rear spoiler with a fixed "wickerbill" vertical extension at the back. The carbon-fiber front splitter and rocker panels are also included in the Z07 Performance package (albeit with larger end plates for the splitter), which adds an adjustable see-through center section to the rear spoiler (for fine-tuned track performance), special tires and even larger carbon-ceramic brake rotors.

Sport seats (included in the Stingray Z51 coupe's Pacific package) are optional on all Corvettes, while all coupes can be had with a transparent roof panel. Among other aesthetic upgrades, the base Stingray models are eligible for a ZF1 Appearance package that throws in the Z51's wheels and rear spoiler.

Stylish interior, 7-inch color touchscreen, MyLink infotainment system with smartphone app integration, comfortable front seats, OnStar service

Cabin design and quality have been Corvette foibles for decades, but not anymore. With the C7, Chevrolet made a concerted effort to bring the 'Vette's interior up to snuff. The cockpit is more driver-centric now, with a sharply canted center stack that creates a jetfighter-like vibe. Materials quality is, for the most part, very good.

A dial on the center console of every 2015 Corvette lets you choose from five different drive modes (Weather, Eco, Tour, Sport and Track) that tweak steering, throttle, transmission and stability-control calibrations, depending on trim and equipment. The standard 8-inch touchscreen display utilizes Chevrolet's latest MyLink electronics interface, which includes smartphone integration for useful apps like Pandora and Stitcher. There's also a cool 8-inch customizable display in the gauge cluster that has a different layout for each drive mode you select. Both are valuable additions that make the 'Vette feel thoroughly up to date.

Corvette owners have long enjoyed the coupe's generous hatchback storage, and that tradition continues with the coupe's 15-cubic-foot cargo area, which offers plenty of room for luggage, groceries, golf bags and what have you. As for the convertible's conventional trunk, it's pretty generous by drop-top standards, checking in at 10 cubic feet.

Standard safety features on the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, side-impact airbags and a rearview camera. Also standard is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking and stolen vehicle assistance.

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