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2014 Chevrolet Corvette virtual first drive review

When it comes to first drives for one of the most exciting cars of 2013, this one is a little different to your usual review.

This is because we drove the new Chevrolet Corvette without seeing the car, touching the car or, in fact, leaving the office.

This was a world first; a virtual first drive using cutting-edge technology to drive a heavily-disguised supercar from one of the world's most iconic manufacturers - but amazingly anybody can do it.

Strap in and enjoy.

A virtual opportunity

The largely anticipated new generation Chevrolet Corvette is not intended to make its official public debut until 13 January 2013.

Yet despite this the public have this week been given a rather unique opportunity to sample this brute American sports car for very little money or effort whatsoever.

It was revealed during the 2012 Los Angeles Motor Show this week that the owners of the Chevrolet brand, General Motors, had collaborated with the developers behind the Gran Turismo series, Polyphony Digital. Working together they have made the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette C7 available to players of Gran Turismo 5, as a free downloadable add-on.

The Gran Turismo series is renowned for offering gamers a highly realistic interpretation of driving cars and racing. Chevrolet says that the new Corvette model in-game is not only accurately detailed but also shares many of the driving characteristics the real car will have when it launches.

With this opportunity in mind, MotorTorque dusted off the gaming steering wheel and pedals and started up Gran Turismo 5 to find out what this upcoming muscle car offers.

The car in the flesh (or the pixels)

Even with this opportunity however, Chevrolet is continuing to keep much of this new Corvette secret. In the game the car sports a full custom camouflage dressing which does much to obscure how different it looks compared to previous Corvettes.

The in-game description of this Corvette claims that spy photos of new cars can sell for as much as $100,000 (or about £62,000). Therefore Chevrolet hired a special team to obscure the car's shape and looks prior to its official reveal. They even included strategic padding and pitch-black vinyl to obscure the new silouhette of the car.

While there is an onboard interior camera for this car in-game, the actual details of the interior are disguised with some sort of cloth material.

Few other details are in fact revealed in game regarding the Corvette C7, although if you look in the right places you can see the car weights 1,500kg and it was producing 441bhp from its engine.

Just over a month ago Chevrolet did reveal details on the new engine, called the Corvette LT1. It is a 6.2-litre V8 petrol unit that allows the car to cover the 0-60mph sprint in just less than four seconds. There's little left to be said in terms of details, so all there is to do is take to a race track.

Since you get a large selection of tracks to drive on when playing Gran Turismo 5, we opted for what is really the ultimate test for any ambitious sports car, or driver for that matter, the 16-mile Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit.

Taking on the Nurburgring

The car was taking out for a test run on its own around the circuit in sunny weather. Hard compound sports tyres were fitted, the active steering was on and traction control was also activated, albeit on a low setting.

Driving at maximum through this narrow, twisty and unforgiving circuit can be nightmare, particularly if the car is erratic and unstable. Happily though the Corvette showed enough composure while put through its paces to avoid the barriers whilst in my control.

Tackling high speed corners at full acceleration certainly takes bravery though, and put your foot down whilst coming out of slow corners and the Corvette can start to kick out the rear end.

The big V8 engine in Gran Turismo 5 tradition should make an authentic sound to real life, and it sounds like a beast. The whole car can act like a beast at times in fact, but it's a beast you can tame and it's satisfying when you do so.

After several laps around the circuit, the fastest time I manage to record was 7 minutes and 53.916 seconds.

For reference that lap time is faster than a Porsche 911 Turbo (997) from 2007 was able to achieve on the same circuit in real life in the hands of a professional test driver. Admittedly a professional test driver could also probably get the new Corvette around the Nordschleife circuit much faster than I could.

Regeardless fans of Gran Turismo and the Corvette will surely be very interested in this sample of Chevrolet's current marketing campaign.

The 2014 Corvette will continue to undergo many miles of testing before it is finally put in showrooms.

Yet even if the car ultimately proves to feel a lot different in the real world, this collaboration could at least prove an interesting way for a manufacturer to attract more motorists, possibly a new fan base even, to its latest product even when still in development.

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