The 2014 Stingray Corvette is an incredible piece of vehicular mastery. Ok, that may be a bit much as the car isn’t perfect, but for under $60,000, it is one hell of a fast and refined sports car. To merely say Chevrolet upped the game with this new ‘Vette would be an understatement. And now there is a second Corvette coming to the market: the Stingray Convertible.
|1. 6.2-liter LT1 V8 makes 455 hp, 460 lb-ft of torque.2. Optional performance exhaust adds 5 hp.3. Seven-speed manual and six-speed automatic both offered.4. Chevrolet advertises 17 mpg city and 29 mpg highway with the manual.5. Pricing starts at $56,995 including destination charges.
Unlike most cars, the 2014 Corvette’s aluminum frame does not include any structurally beams connecting the roof. This enables all Stingray coupes to have a removable targa panel while still retaining high levels of chassis rigidity. It also allows for minimal structural changes to transform the ‘Vette from coupe to convertible. There is an additional compartment behind the seats to store the soft top and the seat belt mounts are relocated. That’s it; no extra ‘strengthening’ beams are stuffed into the doors or the floor.
Just as Fast as the Coupe
This keeps the convertible’s curb weight at a hair over 3,300 lbs.; roughly the same as the coupe. That means Z51-equipped convertibles can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, run the quarter-mile in 12 seconds and achieve over 1g of cornering grip; all with the wind in your hair.
And these numbers aren’t just paper racing hyperbole; the Corvette is the real deal. The cornerstone to this impressive performance is the 455 hp LT1 6.2 liter V8 that gains an extra five hp with the optional performance exhaust on our test vehicle. In today’s crazy high horsepower era, 460 may not sound like much, but the Stingray is deceivingly quick. Throttle down, the ‘Vette gobbles up mile after mile of asphalt while belting out a raucous V8 eruption at high rpm; especially with that performance exhaust set wide open. Torque is instantly available and the engine is flexible to the point where it’s easy to forget this is a big pushrod monster.
Transmission choices remain a seven-speed manual and a six-speed automatic. Not only is this car lightning fast, but with the seven-speed manual, combined with a gentle foot, Chevrolet claims the new Corvette can achieve an impressive 17 mpg city and 29 mpg highway with the seven-speed.
Z51 Makes the Car
But who cares about fuel economy? The Corvette is all about performance. Choose the aptly named Z51 Performance Package and the convertible receives a drive mode selector that will adjust twelve functions including the electronic differential, throttle, steering, magnetic ride control and performance traction management.
Driving on the mountain roads outside of Palm Springs, the Corvette’s limits are immense. At first, it is hard to grasp just how quickly the Stingray can be hustled through corners. The potential of the car is felt, but my internal senses tell me there is no way I’m going to get a car to go around that corner at this speed. However, with more time spent behind the wheel, pushing the car harder and harder, the closer the true abilities of the Stingray became realized; massive, yet fairly manageable. Best of all, the convertible truly does feel just as solid structurally as the coupe. No limp-noodle chassis, no cowl-shake.
Rev Match Like a Pro
Another great feature of the Z51 package is the Active Rev Matching for the seven-speed manual. It automatically blips the throttle to the appropriate rpm when selecting a gear for downshift. This allows for perfect gear changes every time. Similar systems are available from both Nissan and Porsche and although Chevrolet’s system works well enough, we found the throttle blip to be a bit delayed compared to the other manufacturer’s systems.
In case I haven’t pressed the point hard enough yet, the Z51 option is a must for the Stingray; it makes this car the total package. With it, the Stingray seamlessly transforms from top-down cruiser to track terror with the push of a few buttons.
Quick Folding Top
On the outside, the Convertible Corvette features all of the same design elements as the coupe, expect for the fact it can go topless. The fabric roof can be opened and closed at speeds up to 30 mph and takes just 21 seconds to lower. For the first time, the electronic top can also be lowered from the outside using the key fob. The convertible trunk does give up five cubic feet of trunk space however, now limiting it to just 10.
Since we first drove the 2014 Corvette, we have really appreciated Chevrolet’s efforts on the interior design. Not only do the materials finally look and feel like they belong in a $60,000 sports car, but the layout is both modern and unique. The Corvette finally looks like more than just another Chevrolet inside, although some aspects are highly familiar.
It’s All About the Driver
All 2014 Corvette’s feature a driver focused dashboard and the convertible is no different. All of the controls and screens are angled towards the driver, so all necessary information can be received ASAP. Since the center console and controls are completely driver focused, the passenger is given just two controls, climate and seat heat/ventilation, located all the way over on the right-most portion of the dashboard.
And that brings us to price. Since little has to be added in a materials or process stand-point of the 2014 Stingray Convertible compared to the coupe, there isn’t a massive leap in pricing like can be found with a lot of drop tops. The Corvette convertible begins at $56,995 including destination charges, just $5,000 more than the coupe. If this price alone doesn’t make the convertible seem like enough of a performance bargain, remember the superior-in-every-way 2014 Stingray convertible is only $1,600 more than the 2013 Corvette Convertible.
One drive in the new Corvette is all it took for us to know the car is something special. With no penalties other than a minor loss in trunk space, the 2014 Corvette Convertible adds an equally appealing model to the Corvette range. It’s a tossup as to which model to choose, that is, until the 2015 Corvette Z06 arrives and once again, changes everything.