Making its global debut at the 2013 Geneva auto show, Chevrolet’s new Corvette Stingray convertible continues a Corvette tradition of open-top motoring that only lapsed from 1976 to 1985. Though it obviously shares much of its design with its coupe brother, the Stingray convertible’s design actually looks much more like a C6’s than does the coupe, because the shape of the greenhouse is so different in the C7 compared to the C6. Throwing a soft top into the equation leaves less room for creativity in the shape of the roof.
But really, that’s OK, because we hope that Corvette convertible buyers will spend most of their seat time with the roof open, enjoying the clean silhouette of the roofless C7 and the joys (and noises – some good, some bad) that accompany open-top motoring. Should the weather – or outside noise – not cooperate, the top can be raised or lowered at speeds of up to 30 MPH, which is a great feature. It means that in traffic, you won’t be faced with the choice of pulling over to raise/lower your top, or having to leave the top halfway between opened and closed when the light turns green or the car in front of you finally moves.
Since the Stingray dialed up the luxury quotient in the Corvette significantly versus the C6, the convertible will continue in that direction as well. To wit, top operation is now fully electronic (previously a power top was an option in the Corvette), and the windshield header latch even releases (and re-latches) electrically. The integrated hard tonneau cover opens and closes automatically, and is flush with the car’s beltline, as has been true for all Corvette convertibles since the 1986 Indianapolis 500 Pace Cars re-launched the Corvette convertible era.
As in Corvette convertibles since the 1998 C5, the design is brought together by a “waterfall” that connects the leading edge of the tonneau to the rear of the center console. As was true with the C6, the famous Corvette crossed-flags emblem continues to reside on the waterfall.
Because the Corvette was designed as a convertible from the ground up, the Stingray’s all-new aluminum frame did not need additional structural reinforcements for convertible duty. In fact, though Chevrolet has still not released curb weight values for either coupe or convertible, the company claims that the power-to-weight ratio will be nearly identical between coupe and convertible. Since they will have identical powertrains at launch (6.2 liter V8s producing approximately 450 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque, coupled to either a 6-speed automatic or 7-speed manual rear-mounted transaxle), we can speculate that the convertible hardware adds very little to the car’s mass.
No word on pricing yet, for either coupe or convertible, but the Corvette’s chief engineer, Tadge Juechter, has said previously that the Stingray will be affordable for current Corvette owners, which is code for “we will more or less hold the line on pricing, at least until you remove the substantial discounts that occurred toward the end of of the C6’s production run). Traditionally, one in four new Corvettes sold are convertibles (with that climbing to one in three for 2013, thanks to the 427 Convertible that had the Z06’s 505-horsepower 7.0 liter V8 under its hood), so that may be a lesson for GM’s product planners: give convertible buyers more engine choices, and you may sell more of the high-margin cars, which may also mean selling more Corvettes and keeping the name alive well beyond its current generation.