Pat Devereux22 January 2014

First drive: the C7 Corvette Convertible

It's the proper drop-top Stingray. But should you choose one over a regular targa-topped 'Vette?

Been waiting to hear more about the new convertible Stingray. What's the story?

Designed at the same time as the hardtop, you might think that the convertible was unnecessary as all ‘Vettes now have a targa-style removable roof panel. So you can get your fresh air on and have a solid roof over your head when you're finished. But then you drive the soft-topped version and it makes all the sense in the world. There are several reasons for this.

Such as?

Such as you naturally get a more expansive, unobstructed view of the outside. You can hear the rasping exhaust note more clearly. The airflow with the roof down and windows up is actually better, less buffeting, than in the hardtop with the roof section removed. And with the roof down, the roadster version almost looks better than the hardtop.

But there must be some issues - what about the lack of boot space?

True there isn't a huge amount of space back there, but the good news is that it is of a constant size. The roof mechanism is walled off from the boot so you don't cram a load of luggage in then hear a sickening graunch of a stallng roof mechanism when you try and tuck the hood away. It's not huge at 283 litres but then show me a competitor with more. Plus it's not like you buy one of these expecting to move house, is it?

Doesn't the car wobble a lot when it hits a bump?

Nope. Not this one. Thanks in part to the waaay stiffer chassis - it's 57 per cent tighter than the C6 version, which, according to Chevrolet, now makes it more rigid than the McLaren MP4-12C Spider - and the optional but essential magnetic ride, this car positively floats down the road. We ran it over some of the worst roads we know and its magic carpet ride remained intact throughout.

Tell me about the roof...

OK. It's an all fabric affair that takes 20 seconds to drop or raise. It's completely latchless requiring the driver to do nothing more than press and hold the button. You can peel it off or squirrel it away at any speed up to 30mph. With the roof down and windows up, you sit low enough in the car to be cocooned in whatever environment you want to create with the controls. With the roof up, it's as quiet if not more quiet than in the hard-topped car.

How's the performance?

Running the same mechanicals as the coupe Z51 and only weighing 25kg more, it's exactly the same. 0-60mph in 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 190mph. We've already talked about the fine ride and there's very little difference in the handling. Maybe it's slightly less precise when making very high-speed changes of direction on a less than perfect surface, but that's really about it.

So should I buy one?

If you live in the US and want the best convertible bang for your buck, absolutely. There isn't any car made today that gives you more for less. If you live in Europe, where the car has yet to be confirmed as a part of the line-up, maybe less so. If the hardtop is anything to go by, after the exchange rates and export taxes have done their worst, the Z51 ‘Vette will probably cost almost double the US sticker. At that price, most people expect to put a Porsche in their garage.

The numbers

6,162cc, 8cyl, RWD, 455bhp, 624Nm, 23mpg, CO2 n/a, 0-60mph 3.8secs, 190mph, 1524kg

Price

$58,000

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