I am the biggest Corvette Stingray "convert" for this C7 generation - I am a true believer.
This is coming from someone who has long scoffed at the Corvette, even as the ZR-1 blazed back to reality in recent years. I just was stuck with the old thoughts of perves driving the 1980s cars, or old fat men driving the 1990s cars.
But then I got some time behind the wheel of the coupe in October 2013, and it all changed.
I was like a man who had found sportscar God. Eager to tell friends and strangers alike how incredibly fun and tactile and fast the Corvette had become.
Seeing this yummy yellow convertible in the media cars area of Road America this week was therefore a bit like the "Second Coming" for this born-again Corvette enthusiast.
How did the reality of 100-plus MPH driving around the track and big launches on the street compare to the coupe - and stack up in the context of European sportscars like the M5 and and BMW 435i Cabrio?
Or how did it compare with the Bentley Continental GT W12 Speed or Bentley Conti GT V8 S?
Read on to find out...!
The Corvette's appearance for 2014 is the most traditional aspect of the car's appeal for long-time devotees. It is instantly a Corvette from all angles - especially from afar, where its proportions and key detailing make it one-of-a-kind.
This is not exactly a great thing for someone who never liked Corvettes before, and it takes upclose time with the new panels to appreciate the differences of the new generation.
The unpainted carbon-fiber of the Coupe's targa panel is outstanding, as are the front fender slashes and even the hood's subtle aero bulge lines. The Convertible is much fresher overall, with more emphasis on the well-done shrouded roof tonneau in body color. The rear end of the Convertible stands even prouder than the COupe for its freshness - especially when fitted with the big rear spoiler in painted or contrast-black finish. It helps the car to feel as fresh and wonderful as it is.
From directly behind, you are 100-percent sure this is the new Corvette. The new taillights are actually pretty cool LEDs when lit by the brakes, and the bumper's sheer face and black vents are nice embellishments also. It tells a performance story loud and clear -- almost as loud as the quad central exhaust pipes, in fact...
The interior of the new Corvette Stingray is where things are almost unrecognizably-improved versus all that have come before. Not just better materials: everything actually fits tightly and has zero apparent flex. Not one hint of scuttle shake in the front windshield was felt over rough roads on the LT3 Z51's Track setting -- just one below full-on Race mode.
The Corvette comes in three trims: 1LT, 2LT and 3LT. The price difference between the base and loaded cars is about $20,000 -- and a big chunk of that change goes inside. The pricier cars are so, so much nicer than the base cars that the 3LT would be my only recommendation. At least the 2LT -- the 1LT is still built tighter but loses much of the soft-touch and low-sheen leather dash wraps and carbon bits.
INTERIOR COMPARISONS BY TRIM LEVEL
I prefer the tans and browns, which are a 2LT and 3LT exclusive. Selected examples below.
This latest test car lacked the performance seats, and was a bit tougher to (quickly) get comfortable in than I recall the coupe being previously. Adjustable bolsters are nice, but can pinch in the wrong butt size setting, obviously. =]
POWER and TRACK PERFORMANCE
The Convertible felt even better than the Coupe on this summer day. With the top down and the gas pedal hard down too, you can see and feel the huge rush of power in the below track video.
PRICING AND CONFIGURATION RECOMMENDATIONS
The most critical options I noticed on the otherwise very loaded 3LT Z51?
-- Performance exhaust with 4-inch quad pipes, a jump of half an inch and a much deeper active baffle setting in race mode
-- Magnetic suspension is optional as well, and highly recommended
-- Sport bucket seats and upgraded cabin trims: definitely a must to have the experience and cabin quality read about in the magazines. Please see the cabin comparisons below.
Pricing is from about $60,000 up to just under $80,000 as equipped with the options in my build below.