EDITOR WES RAYNAL: Though, personally, I'd go with a Chevrolet Stingray Coupe, this 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible is one hell of a good car, price independent or not. In other words, yes, it's a good value, but even taking the price out of the equation, it's a terrific car.
It starts with the excellent Stingray coupe, our Best of the Best car last year; it was designed from the get-go as a convertible. So there was no need to add extra bracing and such to the aluminum frame -- it's about 40 percent stiffer than the outgoing steel frame -- to make the convertible.
The top takes about 20 seconds to raise and lower, by my count. The rear hatch raises, and the soft top rises and electronically latches itself to the top of the windshield.
I put the top down pretty much whenever I took a spin, and looked for excuses aplenty: Runs to the hardware, the grocery store (The trunk ain't huge, but I had no problem putting about six bags of food in back), a blast downtown for a black-tie event…basically anything I could think of to go for a ride. Top down, there is minimal wind buffeting. Top up, the sound deadening almost makes me forget I was in a convertible. It's a little louder inside, but not much, and I didn't notice any cowl shake.
As with the C7 coupes I've driven, I just loved revving this engine and listening to it sing. Of course, there's more than enough power here, as I expected there would be; the seven-speed manual is excellent. I had a good time playing with the rev-matching levers. Arguably more noticeable than the outright oomph, though, is the engine's flexibility. Sticking it in third and just leaving it there is, for the most part, good enough for around town. Also, as in the coupe, the ride is fine, considering the performance, and the car doesn't lose any of the coupe's composure, about which we've written volumes.
The interior is the same as the coupe, so quality is way up compared to the outgoing car. It's easy to find a good, low driving position, and the seats felt fine no matter how much time I spent in them.
The car looks fantastic. It definitely brought out the neighbors. Why anyone needs more car than this is beyond me.
ROAD TEST EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: “Nice car!” was shouted at me more than once during my weekend with this 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible. There was the girl who said it as I walked toward it in a restaurant parking lot after dinner. Then there was the guy in a new Cadillac CTSwho rolled down his window to say it to me at 11:45 p.m. There were other occasions that slip my mind at the moment, but I remember thinking to myself a lot over the weekend that people sure do love the 'Vette.
And what's not to love about the C7 Corvette? What Chevy has been able to build and sell for a real reasonable amount of money is nothing short of amazing. Now after my time with the convertible, I'm even more impressed with the car. This open-top Corvette is rock solid, with no shake or any really noticeable signs of being down on rigidity in comparison to the coupe. Did Chevrolet add more bracing to the Stingray convertible? Nope. Instead, the aforementioned aluminum frame is lighter than the C6's steel structure, and it's stiffer, too.
Without the need for a bunch of extra bracing, the convertible weighs only 64 pounds more than the targa coupe with all the power convertible mechanisms and other associated parts. Headroom in the drop-top mirrors the coupe at 38 inches, but you do lose 5 cubic feet of cargo space, leaving a still-serviceable 10 for those weekend road trips. Is it loud in the cabin when the top is up? No, it's darn quiet, with triple-layer sound deadening in the top.
The 6.2-liter V8 remains a sweet piece, making the expected lovely, rumbling sounds through the optional performance exhaust to bump horsepower up to 460 from 455. Power delivery is linear and throttle response is quick. The Tremec seven-speed manual is user friendly with fluid shifts, and the clutch is light with a take-up point in the middle of the pedal stroke that I personally like. Automatic rev-matching for downshifts works great and will make you look like a pro driver to your friend in the passenger seat, but the snappy throttle response, slick shifter and good pedal placement are too good to waste. Trust me. You'll have more fun downshifting things yourself.
Our test car is equipped with the optional magnetic-ride suspension, which remains one of the best systems out there when it comes to providing chassis flexibility. Soften it up and the Corvette rides around town with a high level of comfort, making it well suited to tackle a long road trip. If you want to play around on your favorite winding roads, you can firm things up and have a good old time. Like the coupe, handling is world class, with the car changing directions immediately. Steering feels communicative, and the brakes are grabby with firm pedal feedback.
You won't come close to approaching the Corvette convertible's handling limits on public roads, but you'll still have a great deal of fun throwing it around knowing that its capable of so much more.
The cabin is comfortable and well thought out. We can't complain about the seats now because Chevy has fixed that. They're supportive in all the right places, and they're built to hold you in place well, too. Materials are of high quality and feel good to the touch. Climate options are controlled with traditional buttons. Infotainment stuff is handled with the touchscreen and a few regular buttons, and it works well.
What's the catch with the Corvette Stingray convertible? Aside from a small increase in weight and the loss of a little bit of cargo space, there really isn't much. The biggest hit is probably the $5,000 price premium for it over the coupe. To some, that's a small price to pay for the full convertible experience. I'm not one of those people, but I respect a convertible that doesn't give up performance for the sake of the open-air experience.
Nice car, indeed.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: I've never been a huge convertible guy. Have a top or don't. Just make up your damn mind already. I freely admit there's nothing rational about this distaste for drop-tops, and I think I'm getting over my hang-up one car at a time.
When it comes to making the case for open-air driving, this Corvette pulls far more than its 3,362-pound curb weight. The coupe (technically a targa) Stingray is a very good car. The convertible is also a very good car.
It helps that you don't lose anything as far as performance or rigidity goes. The C7 was designed with a full convertible variant in mind. The ragtop doesn't hurt the car's looks, either. It's got a “disappearing” soft top that folds down beneath a body-colored panel. Owners of Murphy-bodied Duesenbergs (and I know you're out there, guys) will be familiar with the feature.
What can I say about the powertrain in the convertible that we haven't already said about the hardtop? The motor is certainly louder with the top up or down. It's cammy at idle and bellowing at 4,500 rpm. The seven-speed is better suited to precise driving than back-road gear jamming, but that's fine. This is a very refined tourer, even with the wind blowing through your hair and the radio blaring.
On a twisty road, a guy drove by me in the opposing lane in a 360 Spider, and I didn't feel a hint of car envy. He probably didn't, either -- the Ferrari and the Chevrolet are obviously very different cars with different intents, different characters and different performance attributes. And price tags.
That's not to say the Corvette can't hold its own against the world's finest sports-car offerings. It satisfies casual drivers and rewards skilled ones. And it's gorgeous: Park a Corvette next to a 458 on any Monaco street. Hell, take the badges off if you think that would make a difference. I can almost guarantee the American offering will turn just as many heads. But in the Monaco of my imagination, which is double-parked with supercars and exotics, that might not be too many.
I think a great deal of the Corvette-as-fiberglass-Viagra image comes from a particular picture burned into our collective conscious: a balding dude trying to recapture his youth by exposing his rapidly thinning hair to the sky in an automatic-equipped, impulse-buy C4. I have nothing against C4 owners, no matter how much hair they have on their heads -- and after getting some sunshine in this C7, I'm beginning to suspect they were on to something the whole time.
I'd still get the coupe. But if Chevy felt inclined to toss me the keys to a convertible for, say, a month or two this summer (you know, to help change the image of the average Corvette driver or whatever), I'm not gonna say no.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: I'm normally not a fan of convertibles, with the whole “stiffness” problem, but this car felt planted like an elm tree around corners and rock solid over bumps. The giant, 300-some series tires probably have something to do with it.
Speaking of those giant shoes, the Corvette makes some weird noises when backing out of a parking spot when the wheel is cranked. The wheel also chatters a bit. I'm not sure if it's binding up in the wheel well or what, but it's very unsettling. If I owned the car, I would bring it in.
The shifter is comfortable and feels sturdy, and the throws are smooth. I found the pedals were set up right for a little heel-toe braking as well. The interior is way past the old Corvettes, but I'm not sure it feels upscale enough to compare with the big GTs of the world. Also, the top takes a little longer to go up and down than I would like.
This car is really easy to drive. Steering weight seems light, as does clutch effort. My only complaint is that the friction point is a little higher than I would like, and it's a little longer, too. For real speed, it needs to be near the floor and small.
Like the guys above, I would choose the coupe as well, but I would never turn down the keys to this, good weather or not.
2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible
Base Price: $59,975
As-Tested Price: $69,975
Drivetrain: 6.2-liter V8; RWD, seven-speed manual
Output: 460 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 465 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm
Curb Weight: 3,362 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 17/29/21 mpg
AW Observed Fuel Economy: 17.1 mpg
Options: 2LT package including memory package, power seat adjusters, bolster, lumbar, Corvette logo seat badge, color keyed console, doors, convenience trunk net, power heated outside adjustable mirrors, driver side auto dimming, inside auto dimming rearview mirror, heated and ventilated seats, premium Bose audio system with 10 speaker surround, 9 months additional Sirius/XM radio, universal home remote, advanced theft deterrent system, color head-up display ($4,210); magnetic ride control, performance traction management ($1,795); multi-mode exhaust ($1,195); carbon fiber interior package ($995); Chevrolet MyLink navigation ($795); red brake calipers ($595); black painted aluminum wheels ($495); carbon fiber painted spoiler, outside mirrors ($100)
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