by Jay Traugott
The mighty Z06 range of cars is well known and much loved for its great value and even greater performance potential. Sitting below the 755-horsepower ZR1, the Z06 Convertible is the second-fastest drop-top you can buy from Chevrolet. Under the hood lies a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 punching out 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. These numbers allow the Z06 Convertible to sprint to sixty in three seconds flat, or just below if you really nail the launch. Standard magnetic ride control endows the Z06 Convertible with a surprisingly comfortable ride around town, and in the twisties, this 'Vette absolutely shines. On the downside, the interior won't live up to the standards set by more exotic German cars in this class, and there's a serious lack of modern active safety features - but you won't care about those things when you're blasting down the main road with the wind in your hair.
The 2019 Corvette Z06 Convertible, which forms part of the seventh-generation released back in 2014, remains unchanged for 2019, but benefits from 2018 updates which include an improved performance data recording system, and the standalone optional magnetic adaptive dampers. For 2019 the Carbon 65 Edition package has been discontinued.
What looks better than a Corvette? A Corvette without a roof, of course. The Z06 Convertible is a handsome car and looks more aggressive than standard Stingray models, thanks to a series of carbon fiber exterior parts such as a Z06 exclusive grille with carbon fiber flash accents, and a high-profile carbon fiber hood. The Z06 Convertible gets standard HID Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, and a set of 19-inch front and 20-inch rear Pearl Nickel alloy wheels. Four performance exhaust outlets center-mounted at the rear, with four-inch polished stainless steel tips, complete the look.
Despite the mega performance, the Z06 Convertible is still approachable in size. Total length is measured at 177.9 inches compared to the ZR1 Convertible's 179.8 inches, and overall height comes in at a low 48.7 inches. The Z06 shares its maximum width of 77.4 inches and wheelbase of 106.7 with the Grand Sport and ZR1 Convertible. Weighing in at 3,582 lbs, the Z06 Convertible is just 58 lbs heavier than its coupe counterpart.
At the heart of the Z06 Convertible lies an all-American 6.2-liter supercharged V8 that produces a supercar-like 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to its large capacity and the linear nature of the supercharger, the Z06 Convertible punches you in the face in any gear at any speed; there's just so much power available everywhere in the rev range, right up to its limit of 6,600 rpm. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a standard seven-speed manual transmission with rev-matching and launch control, or an optional eight-speed paddle-shift auto. The manual is an absolute blast, but if you care about the numbers and getting the most out of the car, the eight-speed auto should be your choice.
Unlike Corvette convertibles of old, the Z06 Convertible feels every bit as good as its German rivals on the road and track. Steering is weighted just right for the city and fast country road driving, and it's easy to point the car where you want it to go. There is barely any steering feel, which makes the car a bit difficult to gauge at the limit, but there's tons of grip. Pushing the car around corners reveals incredible mid-corner grip, but lose the back end, and you'll have a difficult time getting it back in line despite the standard electronically controlled limited-slip differential. Around town, you can feel that you're driving a performance car, but the standard magnetic selective ride control makes low-speed harshness bearable for daily use.
The manual version of the 2019 Corvette Z06 Convertible will manage 15/22/17 mpg city/highway/combined, and the auto will see that number change to 14/23/17 mpg. These are EPA-estimated numbers, but real-world driving - meaning, driving it like it should be driven - could see those numbers quickly dip into the single digits. The 6.2-liter Stingray betters those numbers with a figure of 15/25/20 mpg for the auto and 16/25/21 mpg for the manual, and the mighty ZR1 Convertible will manage 12/20/16 in auto and 12/19/16 in manual guise. With a fuel tank size of 18.5 gallons, the Z06 has an estimated range of 333 miles.
The 2019 Z06 Convertible is a pure two-seater sports cabriolet that will seat exactly two adult adrenaline junkies. Thankfully, it offers enough interior and seating space for larger guys and girls. Legroom comes in at 43 inches and headroom measures 37.9 inches, which might catch the top of the taller driver's heads. The GT bucket seats offer excellent support and look great while doing so, but we'd go for the competition seats if you're serious about driving.
Let's just be clear from the start: the Corvette Z06 Convertible wasn't built to go on shopping runs to Walmart. Unlike the Coupe, which offers a surprising amount of trunk and general cargo space, the two-seater dramatically cuts down on available storage space. The 15 cubic feet of cargo space offered in the Coupe gets cut down to just ten cubes in the Convertible, which is just enough space to squeeze in a case of Bud Lite with a little space to spare. Small-item storage is limited to a small center bin, tight door pockets, and a hidden compartment behind the touchscreen.
The Z06 sits under the ZR1 and above the Stingray and Grand Sport, so the list of standard features is impressive; but, European competitors leave more options on the table. Mechanically, you get the excellent magnetic selective ride control, an electrically limited-slip diff, and a badass performance exhaust system with four polished tips. There's a full power top, dual-zone automatic climate control, a head-up display system, as well as a three-spoke flat-bottomed steering wheel, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror on 2LZ and 3LZ models. Keyless entry and push-button start, as well as curb-view (2LZ and 3LZ models) and rearview cameras also feature. Basics such as LED headlights aren't available, and you'll have to go for a 2LZ or 3LZ if you want heated and ventilated seats.
The 2019 Z06 makes use of an eight-inch touch screen infotainment display, which offers clear graphics despite its relatively small size. The system performs its duties without any major hiccups and includes all the tech and apps you'd expect to see in a modern sports car. You get standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Bluetooth streaming, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a nine-speaker Bose sound system on 1LZ models. 2LZ and 3LZ models benefit from a standard ten-speaker Bose Centerpoint surround sound system. 3LT models also get standard navigation with SiriusXM NavTraffic. Connecting your smart device to the Apple and Android systems is easy, but we struggled a bit with the native Bluetooth system. The voice control system understands you only half of the time, as well. At least there's standard 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity for up to seven devices.
In the last three years of the Z06's life, it has only been recalled three times for issues ranging from faulty airbag systems to power steering problems. Chevrolet covers the Z06 Convertible with a basic three-year/36,000-mile warranty, which includes a one-year/two-visit maintenance plan, as well as a drivetrain warranty and roadside assistance for five years or 60,000 miles.
The Z06 hasn't been tested by either the NHTSA or IIHS, which might be a good thing for Chevrolet, considering the fact that the Z06 has an abysmally short list of safety features. Standard safety features on the 2019 Z06 Convertible are front and rear parking cameras, four airbags, and the sound of Bald Eagles, willing you on to overtake that school bus. At least if they can hear you coming, other road users should stay well out of the way. The body is also strong enough to keep occupants safe in an impact, and OnStar will call emergency services and alert them to your location.
The 2019 Corvette Z06 combines all the things we love in a sports car: it is good to look at, it speeds like a bat out of hell - and it's as impractical as they come. The Z06 benefits from more aggressive exterior styling and is pockmarked with bits of carbon fiber that add to the overall aggressiveness of the car. Under that sculpted body lies a bunch of advanced mechanical bits that allow this 'Vette to stick with far more expensive and exotic machinery; an electronically controlled limited-slip diff, magnetic ride control suspension, and brawny tires deliver an electrifying driving experience. The 6.2-liter supercharged V8 that lurks behind the high-profile carbon fiber hood is an absolute beast both in the way it sounds and in the way it delivers its power, anywhere in the rev range. The interior might not be as well-appointed as some German rivals, and the lack of active safety measures is a bit worrying, but for the money, you simply can't do any better.
The cheapest Z06 Convertible you can buy is the 1LZ seven-speed manual, which starts with an MSRP of $85,400, not including a destination fee of $1,095. Opting for the eight-speed paddle-shift auto transmission will add another $1,995 on top of that - and make you eligible for a $1,300 gas guzzler tax, too. The mid-range 2LZ starts at $88,965, and the range-topping 3LZ will set you back $96,340 when selected with the eight-speed auto trans ($94,345 for the manual). Fully optioned, the 3LZ will cost close to $130,000.
For the most part, the Z06 Convertible shares its features equally across the range, at least the ones that really matter, and there are no performance advantages to be had by choosing a 3LZ model over a 1LZ. The choice between the three trim levels will boil down to how many extra creature comforts you're after. We'd spring for the 2LZ with the eight-speed auto transmission. The 2LZ shares most of its features (which are not available on the 1LZ) with the 3LZ, such as front curb-view cameras, an immobilizer security system, a color head-up display as well as an auto-dimming frameless rearview mirror, universal home remote, heated and ventilated seats and the ten-speaker Bose Centerpoint surround sound system. What the 2LZ misses out on is the advanced infotainment system, which offers better navigation courtesy of SiriusXM NavTraffic, and trim details such as leather and suede microfiber interior packages. If you want to pay an extra $5,000 for the 3LZ, we won't blame you, but it really only adds superficial details.
The ZR1 is notorious for its ability to embarrass the most exotic supercars on the road today. It's supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine shares the same dry-sump oil system and duel fuel injection but pushes out a ridiculous 755 hp and 715 lb-ft of torque - over a hundred more horsepower and 65 lb-ft of torque. The ZR1 Convertible will rush to sixty in just under three seconds and will blow the doors off of most convertibles on the road. The ZR1 Convertible benefits from exclusively tuned magnetic ride control suspension, carbon-ceramic brakes, and ZR1-specific carbon fiber exterior pieces and wheels. Starting at over $120k for the coupe and in excess of R125k for the convertible ZR1, you could get a fully specced Z06 for the same price. The question here is simple; if you think you need more performance than what the Z06 Convertible can offer, you should probably get the ZR1.
The words Grand Sport evokes warm and fuzzy memories of days gone by, and that's exactly why Corvette still produces the GS. There's just enough separating the Grand Sport Convertible from the Stingray to make you feel like you're driving something special. It drives just as well as the Z06, and in day-to-day driving situations, you won't miss the extra power that the Z06 offers; but stop next to one at a robot, dragstrip or track and you'll regret not spending that extra fifteen grand. The naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8 under the hood of the Grand Sport Convertible delivers 460 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque, which is more than enough for most and will get you into a lot of trouble if you're not careful. Both cars share the majority of the available features, so your choice will boil down to how much you care about the sound of a supercharger winding up the boost, and how fast you want to get into a full-blown police chase.