Last week we shared the trailer for the upcoming episode of Top Gear which features a Velocity Yellow C7 Corvette Stingray. If you want to wait for the episode to air tonight at 8:30 pm ET on BBC America, then feel free to move along. As the show already aired in the UK, there is a recording of the episode on YouTube showing Top Gear co-host Richard Hammond putting the Stingray through its paces and comparing the car to the Porsche Cayman GTS. But that’s not all that happens. The Stig gets his chance as well and we’ll have his course time after the jump.
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Since you’re still here, let’s jump right in to all details pertaining to the first appearance of the C7 Corvette Stingray on Top Gear.
The show opens with the Corvette featured front and center. Inside the studio, there are two previous generations of Corvette shown with the new Stingray, a C3 convertible and a Torch Red C6. Clarkson gets his first digs against the Corvette here, saying that with each new generation of Corvette marks the best sports car in America. But that is like saying he (Clarkson) is the best dressed presenter on Top Gear.
“The truth is, no Corvette has ever been a match for the best that Europe can do and it looks like its much the same story with the latest one. But is it?” says Clarkson who sets up the challenge before turning it over to co-host Richard Hammond.
Hammond proclaims his love of Corvettes right away and starts the process of breaking down the stats of the car for the audience. “We have a 6.2L V8, 460 horsepower and the same number in torque. Which means that in any gear at any speed, when you put your foot down, stuff happens!” When the car is shown racing around the track and the performance exhaust opens up, Richard exclaims “There’s the noise!”
After the stats and info session, the Corvette Stingray is then compared to some of its European competition by price point. The Stingray costs £65,000 English pounds. For a Jaguar F-Type V8, you’ll need another £20,000 pounds. For an Audi R8 V8, you’ll need another £30,000 pounds. For a Porsche 911 that is similarly matched, you need another £20,000 pounds. That’s when Hammond introduces the 911’s little brother, the Porsche Cayman GTS.
The Caymen is close to the Corvette Stingray’s price point but with only 336 hp and 280 lbs-ft of torque. Not quite as powerful as the Stingray which a drag race between the two cars shows. But this is Top Gear so we get to hear how great the Porsche is which its precision engineering and nimble performance on the track.
Hammond says at this point, they would usually say the Corvette is great, but it can’t hang with the Europeans so normally “we would play some sad music and go back to the studio.” “This time we are going back to the Corvette,” says Hammond.
Thus begins a deep dive into what makes this Corvette so much better than previous generations. The frame is lighter and stiffer, the seats are improved and strengthened with magnesium frames and the car has five different driving modes including Eco mode which shuts down half the cylinders for better fuel economy.
Hammond talks about the Stingray being “developed at the Nurburgring, not Nashville” which means that cornering “is a bit of an event!” as the Corvette Stingray is thrown around the Top Gear track. “All this power…all this bigness, but it’s still essentially tame-able” says Hammond. “Remember when you had a pet elephant as a kid? It’s a bit like that!”
As the Corvette Stingray and the Porsche Caymen go around a curve in dramatic tire-spinning fashion, Hammond lays down the money quote for the Corvette Stingray’s appearance on Top Gear: “There’s nothing to apologize for. You don’t have to say ‘At least it’s cheap’ or ‘It’s the best they can do.’ It simply is good. In fact, it’s the best sports car to ever come out of America. And for once, you can’t follow that up with a joke.”
Back at the studio, Clarkson tells Hammond this is just the second time he’s ever agreed with him. Clarkson asks Hammond which of the two cars he would rather own. Hammond says while both are great to drive, he admits the Porsche isn’t as good looking a design as the Corvette and compares it to a lap dancer while Clarkson calls the Porsche Caymen a slightly dirty librarian. For the record, Hammond picks the Corvette Stingray.
Finally, both of the cars get a run around the Top Gear track with the white-suited “The Stig” at the wheel. The Caymen turned in a respectable 1:21.6 while the Corvette Stingray’s time was a 1:19.8 which put it above the Porsche Carrera GT. For comparison’s sake, the C6 Corvette ZR1 ran a 1:20.4 on a damp track seven years ago while the C6 Corvette Z06 ran a 1:22.4 way back in 2006. Both the C6 runs were on the regular Michelin tires offered at the time and not the cup tires which debuted later in the C6 model years.
So there you have it. The first appearance of the C7 Corvette Stingray on Top Gear. All in all, the Corvette Stingray’s performance on the show was definitely up to par and its great to finally see the rest of the world catching up to what we’ve know for the past two years.
Here’s the full episode of Top Gear featuring the Corvette Stingray. Check out the Corvette appearance in the first segment of the show or set your DVR to record Top Gear on BBC America tonight at 8:30 pm ET.