We were impressed with the new-generation Chevrolet Corvette Stingray during our time behind the wheel last year. We simply couldn’t remember a vehicle that delivered so many things so well. Our opinion didn’t change after a fun-filled week in a 2016 Corvette convertible. The bottom line—you don’t have to sacrifice one iota of performance and handling with the droptop.
The Stingray’s top is fully electronic and can be lowered remotely using the key fob. And it can be opened or closed on the go, at speeds of up to 30 mph—a great feature as raindrops start pelting your head. Just as impressive, it can be raised or lowered in just 21 seconds. And with the top up, the car is designed for a refined driving experience. The top is a thick fabric with sound-absorbing padding and a glass rear window contributing to a quiet cabin.
And you will discover that the convertible loses absolutely nothing in performance compared to the hardtop model. It’s in the driving that truly makes the newest Corvette shine. The heart and soul of the beast is the upgraded 6.2 L V8 making 455 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. The new engine gains direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, and cylinder deactivation. Power gains were made over the outgoing car by adding about 50 lb-ft of torque below 4,000 rpm. For even more grunt, the optional dual-mode exhaust provides a slight power boost to 460 horses and 465 lb-ft of torque.
And to give the engine more efficient use of the power band, the 2016 Vette is now equipped with GM’s all-new 8-speed paddle-shift automatic. A 7-speed manual with active rev matching continues to be the standard transmission. That’s the transmission that came with our test car and we found it a joy to drive.
Chevrolet says the Corvette with the Z51 performance package—including high-performance gear ratios; transmission-cooling system; larger 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels and tires; larger, slotted rotors and brake-cooling ducts; electronic limited-slip differential and differential cooling system; unique chassis tuning; and Magnetic Ride Control active-handling system with Performance Traction Management—will accelerate from 0-to-60 in 3.8 seconds with the manual transmission and 3.7 seconds with the 8-speed. Quarter mile time is equally impressive at 12 seconds and 119 mph. We found that the Corvette exhibited exceptional overall balance with the help of the Magnetic Ride Control.
Chevrolet put a lot of effort into upgrading the interior, an area that has cried out for improvement over the years. The cockpit design has been improved with the center stack—which now includes a large 8-inch touchscreen—more canted toward the driver promoting a jetfighter-like cockpit feel. The quality of materials has been improved with more soft-touch areas and first-class leather stitching. Trim pieces are made of real carbon fiber and aluminum.
Also new is a reconfigurable gauge display. Specifically, the tachometer display changes according to the priorities of the drive mode—Weather, Eco, Tour, Sport, and Track—that can be selected on the center console. We found the Tour setting best for every day driving.
We also found the most used features very accessible. The climate controls are easy to operate, located under the center information screen. And radio presets are large and easy to use on the big screen. But while the new Vette has a backup camera, strangely absent are blindspot monitors, a feature that should come in every vehicle, especially in a convertible that has massive blind spots.
The interior upgrade that impressed us the most was the seats although they still sit rather low. Unlike Corvettes of the past, these seats are comfortable and supportive. Available are optional competition-style sports seats for those who favor extra lateral support during hard cornering.
For 2016, a smartphone projection technology on Corvette Stingray’s MyLink system displays content from Apple iPhone 5 or later models on the multicolor screen through the Apple CarPlay feature. Supported apps for the system include phone, messages, maps, music, and compatible third-party apps.
Other new features for 2016 include a front curb view parking camera and a power-cinching latch for the coupe’s hatchback or convertible’s trunk.
The convertible starts at a very reasonable $60,395, a $4,000 premium over the base hardtop. Our test car was loaded up with numerous options including the Z51 equipment package going out the door for $79,415. It’s very difficult to envision a more desirable sports car for the same money. If there ever was a 75 grand bargain, the Corvette convertible is it.