We drove one to find out. But the answer isn't that simple.
Believe it or not, the mid-engined Corvette has now entered its fourth model year in production. It seems like just yesterday when the C8 generation debuted with the most significant change to the nameplate in its extensive history. For 2023, the most important addition to the lineup is the high-performance Z06 model, which should arrive at dealers later this year. But since the base Stingray model is already so impressive, should you spend the extra cash on the Z06?
We took one final spin in a 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible with the Z51 Performance Package to see if it's really worth waiting for the pricey Z06. As we learned when we first drove the C8, this is pretty much a perfect sports car, so making it even better will be a tough task for Chevy.
If you already own a C8 Stingray, there's little reason to trade out for the 2023 model. There aren't any major performance or styling changes, mostly a few easter eggs to celebrate the 70th anniversary. The first C1 Corvette arrived back in the 1953 model year, so there is a little plaque on the speaker grille that shows the numbers 1953, 2023, and 70. A similar message is displayed on the convertible's sliding rear window and can be seen perfectly through the rearview mirror. These touches are minor but could make the 2023 model year slightly more desirable to collectors in the future.
A fun fact, Chevy is proud that the Corvette is the oldest running American sports car nameplate. However, because there was no 1983 model, the Ford Mustang (which started in the 1964 model year) is actually the longest continuous-running sports car nameplate in the US. Chevy can at least take solace knowing it owns the oldest American vehicle model still in production, the Suburban (originally launched in 1933).
In addition to the 70th touches on every 2023 Corvette, Chevy also offers a 70th Anniversary Edition package on the base Stingray and upcoming Z06. This package is slightly different on the Z06, but on the Stingray it includes a ceramic white Nappa leather interior with red stitching, Edge Red brake calipers, suede steering wheel, Midnight Gray forged wheels with a red lip (19 inches in the front and 20 inches in the rear), two-piece leather travel bags, rear fascia protector, red seatbelts, and a unique VIN sequence.
The 70th Anniversary Special Edition comes in either White Pearl Metallic Tri-coat or Carbon Flash Metallic with optional Satin Black or Satin Matrix Gray racing stripes. This package costs $5,995 and we'd honestly rather spend similar money on the Z51 Package ($6,345). But watch as an original, unopened 70th Anniversary luggage set may sell for $10,000 at an auction 50 years from now.
They may not be worth trading in a 2022 model for, but the optional forged wheels on our test car are easily the nicest ones we've seen on any C8. This style is new for 2023, and comes in Gloss Black, Midnight Grey with a Red Lip (70th Anniversary Edition-only), or the two-tone silver and dark grey pictured below. This is just our opinion, but there was always something awkward about how the other patterns looked on the C8; almost as if they were too small or too intricate. The Z06 wheels completely solve this problem, but it's nice to see that Chevy is taking customer opinions and adding new wheel styles.
Chevy has made minor improvements to the Corvette's interior since it arrived for the 2020 model year. With 21 different color combinations, three seat types, and six seatbelt colors, it's easy to build a Corvette that's different than your neighbor's. For 2023, there is a new Adrenaline Red Dipped Nappa leather option that cakes the interior with so much red, you would be forgiven for thinking this was a 1980 model. The carpets, dashboard, seatbelts, and even the headliner are bright red. In fact, the only non-red leather bit is the steering wheel.
It's a bit much for most buyers, but we think it works well with a subtle exterior color like our tester's Ceramic Matrix Grey. Whether you're a fan of the red or not, there's no denying the Corvette feels like it's worth six-figures in the 3LT trim, which wraps nearly every surface in expensive leather, metal, or suede.
Pricing for the base 2023 Corvette Stingray Convertible starts at $73,095, which is approximately $2,300 more than last year's model. You can save $7,500 by getting the Stingray Coupe, which still features a removable Targa-style roof, but required you to physically exit the vehicle to go roofless. It's not as if the price increase really matters though, as obtaining a C8 at MSRP has been a difficult task since the car arrived back in 2020. In fact, many pre-owned Corvette Stingrays are currently selling above the base price of a brand-new 2023 model. If you know someone at a Chevy dealer who can get you a car at sticker price, we advise you to go for it.
Pricing for the 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 was just announced, starting at $106,395 for the coupe and $113,895 for the convertible. Our fully-equipped 3LT Convertible press car was optioned up to $96,745, which makes the Z06 seem like an amazing deal on paper. However, if we compare 3LT apples to apples, a similar Z06 would cost over $127,245. Can the Z06 be possibly worth a more-than-$20,000 premium over the already excellent Stingray? Probably (with a caveat).
We haven't driven the Z06 yet, but that 5.5-liter flat-plane crank V8 will likely fix the one issue we have with the Stingray; it sounds like every other GM V8. And with 670 horsepower delivered at 8,600 rpm, it will improve upon the Stingray's pedestrian 6,600 rpm redline.
The Z06 sounds incredible, but we doubt most buyers will be able to get one at sticker price anyway. We've already seen dealers asking $100,000 over sticker, and GM offering a $5,000 reward to prevent flippers isn't going to do diddly squat. So if it comes down to a six-figure price difference, we'd absolutely stick with an impeccable Stingray like this tester.