by Jay Traugott
The arrival of the eighth-generation Chevrolet Corvette, aka the C8, had been anticipated for months, but that's not the only reason why it's already reached legendary status before even going on sale. No, the C8 is the first-ever mid-engined production Corvette. The front-engined Corvette is now officially a thing of the past. That V8 now rests directly behind the driver. And, of course, what would a Corvette be without a convertible body style variant? After all, the original 1953 C1 Corvette was a convertible roadster. The first fixed hardtop coupe didn't arrive until the second-gen Corvette debuted a decade later.
And now, only a few months following the reveal of the 2020 Corvette Stingray Coupe is its convertible sibling. The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible has arrived and it's stunning.
Unlike previous generations, the 2020 Corvette Stingray Convertible is the first hardtop in the Corvette's decades-long history. While it very much resembles the coupe, it provides drivers and passengers with wind-in-your-hair joy. The convertible maintains the tunnel-dominant structure and use of high-quality die-cast parts found in the coupe.
Notice how the hardtop stows seamlessly into the body in order to maintain the Stingray's ability to store two sets of golf clubs in the trunk. This remains so even when the top is down. The front storage compartment remains the same as the coupe, and it can accommodate an airline-spec carry-on bag and a laptop bag. But why the hardtop? A couple of reasons Chevy gives is that it provides a quieter cabin as well as a cleaner look than a softtop.
The Corvette Stingray Convertible's overall exterior design, like that of the coupe, was inspired by fighter jets. Even the tonneau cover offers aerodynamically shaped nacelles influenced by jet engine housings. What's more, these nacelles help reduce air circulation into the cabin. The tonneau itself also has a rear power-adjustable window and vent to help cool the engine.
The two-piece hardtop, which is powered by six electric motors instead of a hydraulic design, can be raised and lowered at speeds up to 30 mph, and retracts in only 16 seconds. Engineers also went to great lengths to ensure the engine could breathe when the hardtop is stored underneath the tonneau cover.
Chevy says the top is made from a sheet-molded composite while its storage compartment is constructed from lightweight composite panels and heat shields. There's also a power glass window divider smack dab in the vehicle's center that can be adjusted with the top up or down. Even the glass has been optimized to reduced air circulation and wind noise in the cabin. Speaking of which, the cabin's layout is identical to that of the coupe, with the exception being the controls to operate the folding hardtop.
Well, we can't use the phrase "under the hood" anymore for the Corvette. The Stingray Convertible, like the coupe, is powered by a new naturally aspirated 6.2-liter small block LT2 V8. When equipped with the optional performance exhaust, total output is 495 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission is an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox. There is a double-paddle de-clutch feature that enables drivers to disconnect the clutch by holding both paddles to create more manual control.
Without an attached stationary roof, engineers were forced to make some chassis adjustments, specifically the springs and dampers were tuned to provide nearly the same performance specs as the coupe. At this time, Chevy has not released official performance numbers. It's also important to note that combined with the identical rear spoiler used on the Stingray coupe's Z51 Performance Package, there's identical drag between the coupe and convertible when the roof is up.
Generally speaking, the prices for convertibles are slightly higher than their coupe counterparts, and the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible is no exception. It costs exactly $7,500 more than the entry-level $59,995 (including destination) 1LT Stingray coupe. Do the math and that's at least $67,495.
One of the reasons why Chevrolet opted for the mid-engine design was to make the Corvette a true world-class sports car. Therefore, it aimed high regarding the competition. Think McLaren 570S, Porsche 911 Carrera, Audi R8, and Jaguar F-Type. These are not only serious high-performance machines but also premium luxury vehicles that cost thousands of dollars more. Given the 2020 Corvette's power output, greater use of high-quality build materials, and world-class engineering throughout, America's favorite sports car still remains a bargain. And now you get one with a high-quality retractable hardtop. It's a winner already.