While the Corvette Z06 dines on exotic supercars, at the other end of the spectrum the Stingray is an entry-level alternative that competes against the Jaguar F-Type and Porsche 911 Carrera, but at a fraction of the price. The 7th generation Corvette would like to be all things to all people – the comprehensive American sports car – but without the chassis underpinning the Z06, there’s the potential that it may lack that sparkle that makes the top model ‘vettes so special. The open top convertible may soften that still, but it offers a lifestyle alternative – after all, not everybody wants who buys a sports car wants something hardcore.
Up to speeds of 30mph, at the press of a button, the powered soft-top can be operated to open up a new world of head room even the targa-topped coupe can’t afford. The soft-top and its mechanisms occupy some trunk space when stowed, reducing trunk volume to 10 cubic feet. But the comfort of open-top motoring is alluring, and the standard 8-way power adjustable magnesium-skeleton GT bucket seats are comfortable for day to day use and long distance driving. Those seeking extra support can opt for Competition Sport buckets.
Most of the materials in the cabin are impressive in their quality though feel less solidly put together than German sports car counterparts. There are a few places with cheaper trim elements that rob the Stingray of a quality feel, but the rest of the package makes up for that. Standard, there’s an 8-inch MyLink touch screen infotainment system – navigation is optional – as well as dual-zone climate control.
Standard Stingray trims don’t feature Chevrolet’s magnetorheological adaptive damping – that’s optional, or available on the Z51 Performance Package. It’s a worthwhile option to select, as without it the ride lacks the suppleness afforded with it, and on smoother surfaces under hard cornering there’s more body roll than is comfortable – though that’s also partly due to the convertible’s reduced rigidity. Drive the convertible at a maximum of eight tenths and there’s the sweet spot. Handling is sharp and precise, and the electric power steering responds accurately, albeit without much feel. Standard Brembo brakes also offer impressive performance, with consistent stopping power and resistance to brake fade.
The Z51 Performance package adds adaptive damping for improved comfort and handling, more powerful brakes, and performance suspension – enough to make it a keener driver’s car. The Z51 pack also includes an electronic limited slip differential – which tightens up the rear end and vastly improves handling characteristics.
Being the littlest Corvette doesn’t mean much compromise – no less than 8 cylinders will do for a ‘Vette. The front mounted 6.2-liter LT1 V8 generates 455 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque in standard trim. Opt for the performance exhaust (standard on the Z51 package) and outputs take a bump to 460hp and 465 lb-ft. Rear wheel drive is the default drivetrain, mated to either a 7-speed manual gearbox with rev-matching function, or an 8-speed automatic with gearshift paddles. When equipped with the Z51 Performance Package and auto ‘box, the Stingray shoots from 0-60mph in 3.7 seconds.
3 trim lines exist for the Corvette Stingray, LT1, LT2, and LT3, and all can be had with the Z51 package. The base LT1 gets staggered 19- and 20-inch alloy wheels, an 8-inch touch screen, and cruise control. The LT2 adds a heads-up display, heated and ventilated seats, and 10 speakers, while the LT3 adds navigation, a performance data recorder, and a leather wrapped interior. The Z51 Performance Package adds a performance exhaust, improved brakes, and performance suspension. The Stingray Convertible’s safety features include ABS brakes, stability control, and traction control as well as optional curb-view cameras.
It doesn’t have the handling prowess and chassis stability of the Grand Sport or Z06, but the Corvette Stingray Convertible can still be a half-brilliant driving tool. Open top driving need not compromise the handling experience – and to that end we recommend the Z51 Performance Package and adaptive dampers.