2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible
There, we said it—and it feels a bit like a confessional.
To those who haven't been religiously reading car magazines (and following Motor Authority) for years, it's worth pointing out that, with the exception of a few purpose-built roadsters, Convertibles aren't usually the top pick for enthusiasts in the know. They tend to shudder and shake whenever the road turns rough, undulating, or very tight—and expose the less desirable traits of the design when driven hard.
But there's really no shudder, no recognizable difference between the latest C7 Corvette, whether you go for it in Coupe or Convertible form.
It's what all convertibles should be, really. Only here it's actually the case.
C7 was conceived as a convertible
That's because, according to GM design director Tom Peters, the Corvette Stingray Convertible was conceived, designed, and engineered initially as an open-top car. That allowed plenty of roof flexibility (with the targa top, for instance) without interfering with the structural qualities of the car.
It also allowed engineers to go with the exact same suspension tuning and wheel and tire choice, whether for Coupes or Convertibles.
As Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter later pointed out to us, the roof (and even the roll hoop) aren't structurally necessary, as the new aluminum chassis and passenger-cell structure allows.
And at an MSRP of $56,000 for the base-suspension (FE1) car, and $58,800 for track-ready Z51 version, we can't see why anyone wouldn't choose the Z51.
Unless your daily commute includes pothole-riddled Rust Belt roads, we can't see much reason not to go for what's officially called the Z51 Performance Package, which includes a electronic limited-slip differential; dry-sump lubrication; upgraded cooling for the brakes, engine, and differential; aerodynamic improvements aimed at high-speed stability; and special wheels, tires, and brakes.
Practical and livable—even as a Z51
We already thought the targa-top car that we'd previously driven offered the best combination of open-air fun and coupe looks for the new Corvette, but the new Stingray Convertible not only looks great but indeed feels born for top-down canyon-carving. As for the tight-fitting automatic top, it requires no additional lock at the top of the windshield, and you can raise or lower the top at speeds of up to 30 mph—not that you'd want to, but we appreciate how it's not so finicky.
Wind buffeting isn't as great as in some touring convertibles, but it's not bad either. And as GM design director Tom Peters, my passenger for part of the day, pointed out, a dealer-installed windblocker makes a meaningful improvement.