We already know that the 2014 Corvette is a damn good car. So what happens when you lop the roof off? Does it remain something a serious performance buyer would want? Or is it now a schlubby car for schlubby schlubs who like to schlub about?
(Full Disclosure: Chevrolet wanted me to drive the 2014 Corvette Convertible so bad that they invited me to sunny Palm Springs, California to sample it in its natural environment. Of course, when I got to Palm Springs, temperatures never topped 60 and I saw 31 with the top down. Whoops.)
Chevrolet began engineering the Corvette as a convertible, that way they could be sure that the convertible wouldn't have the rigidity properties of a dead salmon. In our initial walk around of the car, Chief Engineer/Badass Tadge Juechter told us that Chevrolet believes the 2014 Corvette is the most rigid convertible in the world.
And yes, he's including the McLaren 12C Spider, which they've tested the rigidity of. He said that the difference might be small, but they believe their car is more rigid on their scale.
That's a rather lofty claim.
Another interesting tidbit that was laid on us during the walkaround is that the Corvette convertible is also slightly quieter from an engine noise perspective than the coupe. This has a lot to do with the lack of the trunk and rear section, which also acted as a resonator and brought a lot of sound into the cabin.
The softtop, which only adds 60 pounds of weight thanks to the hydraulics needed to operate it, is one touch operation now and can go up or down at speeds up to 30 MPH. They did this while also calculating windspeed, which I was told means that it was actually engineered for 60 MPH. When I asked why they don't vary the speed that the top can operate at depending on prevalent wind conditions (i.e.: 20 MPH wind, you can go up to 40 MPH), I was basically told that I'm a moron who shouldn't be allowed out of his own home without supervision.
With the convertible, Chevrolet also introduced their competition seats, the heavily bolstered and aggressive seats that are a $2,500 option on the car. Yes, Corvette seats used to be total shit. These seats rock. They're actually bolstered, covered in Alcantara, and have holes to accommodate a four point harness. They are comfortable and supportive, which means that after 60 years of building a car, they finally got the seats right. They are a must have option as far as I'm concerned.
I just drove a Stingray coupe last weekend, and I can say that the driving experience of the convertible is totally identical to that of the coupe. It's still highly capable.
The exhaust note with the top down actually reminds me of the Jaguar F-Type, which is probably the best compliment you can pay to an exhaust. Sure, it doesn't crackle like gunfire, but the note is far from what I'd call subtle or subdued.
The main difference is a high amount of wind noise, due to, y'know, the Corvette no longer having a roof. Shocker, I know. Another shocker that isn't a joke is just how well tuned the suspension in the Z51 package without magnetic ride is. I still prefer an MRC suspension that I can adjust, but the Z51's regular suspension is firm, but not back breakingly so. A fine compromise if you can't swing the extra $1,800 for MRC.
I do still prefer the Corvette coupe to the convertible. I dig the fastback look more and, even though I am a Miata evangelist, I prefer a coupe to an open topped car. Crazy, I know. But if you're an enthusiast who wants to be able to take the entire roof off your Corvette and sacrifice nothing, the convertible is no longer a compromise.
It's refreshing to know that the convertible might not be a car that is only seen clogging up good roads going five under the speed limit. Perhaps you'll see it doing some burnouts (Not that I found out. Nope.) and hitting some apexes.
You never know.