There’s always been something about the Corvette. It draws people, captures their attention. This new Corvette is no exception. But capturing attention is only half the equation. Is the new Corvette as good to drive as it is to look at? We spent a week with the new Corvette Stingray Convertible to find out.
The attention we garnered this week has a lot to do with the Stingray’s supercar-level good looks. The new C7’s lines are sharper, it’s design feels crisper than the outgoing C6. The convertible is arguably more striking than the coupe, with the absence of the roof and rear glass. When the top is down, the design line starts at the headlight and runs all the way back onto the wide rear deck, ending with a small spoiler. The larger front grille and new vents in the hood and front quarter panels make better use of moving air. A squarer rear end, set with vents and incorporating a large diffuser, is the talk of the town. For the record, we love the new tail lights. Not only is the Stingray’s design functional, its visually dramatic.
In Laguna Blue, there’s no ability to blend into the crowd. Of course, some of the reactions we elicited may have been due to the relative rarity of the new Stingray. We were approached at gas stations, restaurants, and stop lights. People shouted and waved from nearby cars, children asked if they could take pictures, and firemen broke rank in the middle of a parade to get a better look. It’s as if the Stingray Convertible was a local celebrity. Corvette culture is promulgated by a tight-knit yet welcoming group of owners. They’re willing to take some time out of their day to talk Vettes. We gathered several local Corvette owners and witnessed personalization in each car. It could be as simple as a set of stripes or as unique as a custom-machined stainless steel ashtray cover, each owner was more than welcome share their story while admiring the latest Corvette.
There’s no replacement for displacement. The Stingray’s new V8, dubbed the LT1, has 6.2L of it. That’s good for 455 horsepower and 460 lb-ft torque. The optional performance exhaust, which was thankfully fitted to our tester, is worth an extra 5 horsepower. The four giant exhaust tips centered in the rear emit a burble at idle, but have the ability to wake the neighbors at wide-open-throttle. It should be fitted on every Corvette. The C7 come standard with a 7-speed rev-matching manual transmission. A 6-speed automatic was available, but has been replaced with an 8-speed unit for 2015. The 3-pedal setup is superb but the tighter shift pattern does take practice. Even after a week, we occasionally ended up in 5th when we were looking for 3rd. When you get it right, the short gear ratios and crisp shifter make for an excellent experience.
As we found in the GMC Sierra Denali, GM has stepped up the quality of their interiors. The Corvette is no exception, save for the budget carpeting. The entire dash is built around the driver, and it’s a very nice place to be. Not only is everything laid out simply and ergonomically, it’s all built very well. A pair of 8″ screens are fitted to the cabin. The first serves as the Chevy MyLink interface and navigation screen. The second sits in the gauge cluster serving as the tachometer and driver information center, changing appearance as you dial through the different drive settings. Like the CTS Vsport, Touring, Sport, and Track are the three major settings. The Track setting displays the classic hockey stick rev-counter with shift lights and lap time information. The color heads-up display, part of the 2LT package, changes to match the cluster display. The Stingray’s new seats are supremely comfortable and offer adjustable bolster support for a more custom fit. The optional sueded microfiber inserts weren’t the most popular option, but helped keep you centered in the seat.
Rev-matching gearbox, race-inspired tachometer, grippy seats, limited slip differential, 460 horsepower. That’s a recipe for a good time. The Stingray Convertible does everything right. We racked up nearly 500 miles enjoying the sun, the sound, and the Stingray. The steering is a tad light but very precise. The standard suspension was surprisingly comfortable on rough roads but didn’t pitch or roll in corners. There’s an abundance of grip and control which builds confidence. In Track, the traction limits are raised so the driver can have a bit more fun. With traction and stability systems disabled, the Corvette is balanced and controllable. Its one of those cars that makes the driver look good. It’s communicative and responsive, a pleasure to drive. And yes, the Stingray is more than capable of shredding its tires. But it’s not a straight-line muscle car like the Camaro. This is a true sportscar and you’re reminded of that fact every time you climb into the driver’s seat. All this from a car that didn’t include the Z51 Performance Package, Magnetic Ride Control, or Competition Sport Seats.
Those options make the Corvette more performance oriented, but they also alter the driving experience. With its lack of fixed roll hoops, it’s doubtful you’d be allowed on a race track with the Stingray Convertible. On public roads, you’re not going to need larger brakes, additional aerodynamics, stiffer suspension, and more cooling. They might serve as bragging rights, but they also add cost to a car that, arguably, doesn’t need them. As it stands, our tester rang in at an astoundingly reasonable $66,080. The Stingray is capable of tearing up pavement and cruising through the countryside. Call me old fashioned, but it doesn’t need to be able to do any more. It’s fast enough to outpace cars with twice the MSRP. At the end of the day, the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible is an attention-seeking missile. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
|2014 Corvette Stingray Convertible
|Machine-Faced Aluminum Wheels||$1,495|
|Multi-Mode Performance Exhaust||$1,195|
|Laguna Blue Tintcoat||$995|
|Chevrolet MyLink Navigation||$795|
|Sueded Microfiber Seat Inserts||$395|
|As Tested MSRP||$66,080|