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PDR: Corvette’s Riskiest Option?

Dec. 8, 2014
The Performance Data Recorder (PDR) seems like it might tempt some Corvette owners to push themselves dangerously past their driving limits.

The 2015 Corvette is another sweet-looking sports car in a long line of well-engineered and iconic roadsters. It’s chock full of high-tech features and well-thought-out options. But one option, the Performance Data Recorder (PDR), seems like it might tempt some Corvette owners to push themselves dangerously past their driving limits.

The PDR records driving data, along with video from a forward-pointing 720p HD camera mounted on the back of the rearview mirror. The PDR also stores audio from inside the car. It can be added to any 2015 Corvette as part of the $1,800 navigation equipment option.

The PDR grabs data off the car’s Controller Area Network, giving it access to information such as engine speed, gear selection, braking force, and steering-wheel angle. And for more precise positioning, especially in corners, the PDR has its own GPS operating at 5 HZ, five times faster than the navigation system’s GPS.

An SD card reader in the glove box stores up to 200 minutes of audio and video on an 8GB card and about 800 minutes on a 32GB card. Drivers can replay it on the car’s 8-in. touchscreen (but only when parked), or download it to a computer or tablet to watch, study, or share on Twitter, Facebook, and the like. 

Drivers can select one of five PDR modes:

Track mode: The video has data overlays showing speed, rpm, throttle and braking, g force and direction, location on the track, lap times, and start and finish lines.

Sport mode: It only shows key parameters such as speed and g force.

Performance mode: The PDR stores performance metrics such as 0-to-60 mph times, quarter mile speed and elapsed time, and 0-to-100 mph times.

Touring mode: Just records the view out the front windshield.

Valet mode: Stores video and some performance data. It is intended for when someone other than the owner is driving as a way to check on whether the car was abused.

PDR makes sense for those who race their Corvettes. It lets them study their behavior and the car’s in the safety of their living room. And for mature, intelligent drivers, it will let them get more out of their cars.

But there are some downsides to PDR. I’m pretty sure watching my cousin’s four-hour trek across the Blue Ridge Parkway with views only of the road will not be very entertaining. Even worse, I’m confident there will be drivers who share and compare videos, trying to outdo one another (think Jackass: The Movie, and countless online videos of people doing stupid, dangerous stunts). The urge to show off, especially in a cool, capable car such as the Corvette, is too strong in some people. Eventually, some will get injured and killed.

I could be wrong. Corvettes are on the pricey side, and few teenage and twentysomething males, the most likely demographic to film themselves doing dumb stunts, can afford them.  

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