By Jeffery N. Ross, for GM Authority
To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of convertibles. Sure, the Jeep Wrangler and Mazda Miata make compelling arguments for how much fun open-air driving can be, but the overall idea of chopping a car’s roof off to get a little extra sun in the cabin has never really been my thing. As it would turn out then, my first time ever driving the universally praised 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray would be in convertible form, but at least it would be along a fitting route island hopping through most of the Florida Keys with sun out and the temps in the mid-70s.
Perhaps more beautiful then the weather, the C7 Corvette is easily one of the best-looking Corvettes built – even despite some of the more controversial elements like the rectangular taillights. Making this tester even more eye-catching is its high-contrast color scheme with Arctic White paint, black wheels and the Adrenaline Red leather interior. As you can tell by the photos, this drop-top is nearly impossible to miss. Wherever this car was, it was either attracting gestures of approval from passing motorists or crowds of admirers when parked. Sadly, the convertible models do away with the rear fender vents on the Z51 model, but this performance-minded package is still identifiable thanks to a full-width decklid spoiler.
Hopping behind the wheel of this latest Corvette, it’s hard not to appreciate the new Stingray Convertible with the top down on such a beautiful day. The best part about this car, though, is that the removal of an untold square footage of metal, carbon fiber and glass make it so much easier to hear amazing exhaust notes from the dual-mode exhaust system. At full rev, this exhaust not only emits addictive pops and burbles from the rear pipes but it also helps increase the 6.2-liter V8’s output to 460 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque. This helps return an amazing 0-60 time of just 3.8 seconds.
In fact, this engine seems to have power everywhere whether it’s getting off the line or getting by a group of cars in a passing zone. Even with all that power and its proven handling abilities, my day with the 2014 Stingray Convertible around long, flat stretches of road, which helped prove that it is just as capable at tackling everyday driving as it is at taking on a track day. In spite of my attempts at keeping the engine revving and the exhaust popping, I wound up with a respectful 24 miles per gallon after about 100 miles of driving thanks mostly to cylinder deactivation and the seven-speed do-it-yourself transmission. The only real disappointment about driving the C7 is the rev-matching system. Not its operation, but rather the tacky steering wheel paddles. A console-mounted button (similar to the Nissan 370Z) would have been an easy solution and reduced the unnecessary complexity of the steering wheel.
True to form for Florida weather, the sunny drive was briefly interrupted by an afternoon rain storm, which gave me a little top-up driving time in the new Corvette Convertible. First, it was nice that the top can be raised while driving (up to 30 mph), but when raised, the interior actually remains impressively quiet. Of all the improvements made to the C7 Corvette, the interior is probably the most noteworthy. The standard bucket seats are perfectly comfortable for long cruises – and somehow the dark red leather did not get too hot while sitting out in the sun. An extra kudos to the Chevy team for that. The coolest feature inside the Stingray is the reconfigurable gauge cluster that relays info using several different screens including one that gives the feeling of a racecar.
Overall, the cabin design is a vast improvement over recent Corvettes, but as nice as the C7’s interior is, it still isn’t up to the same quality of materials you’ll find in competitive cars like the Porsche 911 or Audi R8. That being said, the price is well under its competitors, too. Starting at $56,000, this tester was loaded to the gills with price that topped out at right around $75,000, which is a lot of money but also an extremely good deal when you consider the performance this car offers (and consider the pricing of well-equipped 911s and R8s).
If you really want to get the most out of your Corvette purchase, Chevy has you covered. For $990, you can take delivery of your Stingray at the National Corvette Museum, but for even more excitement, be sure to drop $1,000 for the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School at Spring Mountain Motor Resort in Pahrump, Nevada. Corvette buyers get to attend this two-day driving school at a $1,500 discount, and they don’t even have to bring their own car. Two days of tearing up the clutch, tires and brakes on someone else’s Corvette sure sounds worthy of a grand.
Personally, if I was going to buy a Stingray, I’d still opt for the hardtop model – it does offer a removable center roof section after all – but if convertibles are your thing, then there’s even more to love about this Stingray. The 2014 Corvette Stingray isn’t just a great car, it’s a great experience, and driving the new drop-top Stingray with its top down through the Florida Keys is one hell of an experience.