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Monday, July 7, 2014

2014 Corvette Convertible Review: Intoxicating, American Speed

 

Boldride
                    
 
Here in America we have a certain saying: “If there’s something worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.”
 
 And no one lives up to that mantra quite like Chevy. Oh yes, America’s largest automaker, and one of the biggest automakers in the world truly knows how to “overdo” things. But in the best freakin’ way imaginable.
 
The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible — in all its tacky American glory — showed up in our driveway a few weeks ago. And our opinion on this machine has never been the same from there on.

A car that has cemented itself in American history as one of the most desirable rides around, has evolved into a worldy competitor the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini, without losing its American roots.

But I won’t get ahead of myself just yet. There’s a lot to discuss when it comes to the Corvette.

 
Pants-Tightening Power


2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible

At 460 horsepower, the 6.2-liter V8 isn’t exactly the most powerful engine ever engineered, especially in 2014, where sports cars regularly exceed 600 horsepower. But it doesn’t need to be. At 3,362 lbs, the Stingray Convertible is lighter than most, and front-engine, rear-drive layout balances the car nicely at both ends.

0-60 mph can had be had in under 4 seconds, if you know how to handle a healthy amount of wheel spin. But once the ‘Vette jumps the line, the sheer power under the hood quickly makes up for all that burnt rubber.



Corvette Stingray 4
That being said, all its power was mated to a gearbox that was in major need of an overhaul. We tested the six-speed automatic, assuming that’s what most convertible ‘Vette buyers will opt for, and it really struggled to meet expectations.
 
The automated manual with paddle shifters was unrefined and surprisingly difficult to manage.

 It would often change into a “performance shift” mode that kept revs higher and gears tighter, but how or when it would activate felt like a mystery. Definitely needs a dual clutch, which it will get soon enough.



Corvette Stingray

Surrounding the 6.2-liter V8 was a completely redesigned body. While it kept many cues from the C6 in which it replaced, the evolved new Corvette was sharper, meaner, and definitely a head turner. Even the parking lot of the grocery store became an impromptu photoshoot for the eye-catching sportscar.


2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Inside the cabin is tight, and coated in a clean beige and black leather finish. The infotainment screen along with the digital tach and speedometer all speak testament to the Corvette’s new premium design.
 
The buttons are clean and well laid out, the steering wheel is sleek but still provides radio and cruise control at your fingers — and that’s only the aesthetics.

All of these new knobs and controls manage an advanced system of performance, ergonomics, and infotainment that leaves other $70K sportscars wondering where they went wrong.

 The digital tach is reminiscent of higher-priced Japanese competitors, à la the Nissan GT-R or Lexus LFA. At your fingertips, you can access a lap timer, 0-60, tire pressure and performance, ergonomics, audio — the list goes on.


Drop Top Fun


Corvette Stingray 3
Corvette Stingray 5
Corvette Stingray 6

Pop the top of any high-revving sportscar and it’s bound to be more fun. The Corvette is no exception. While the coupe itself is a barrel of monkeys worth of rear-drive, V8 fun, the added feeling of the wind in your hair and bugs in your teeth really makes for an all around senses pleaser.
And like any modern rag top, it opens and closes at the push of a button, at low speeds and without much hassle.


Overall

Corvette Stingray 2

When our week with the new Stingray was up we had a lot of mixed feelings. We were disappointed that it had left our lives, because it was pure, unadulterated fun. But at the same time, we still knew there was something missing to make this Corvette a real “worldly” competitor.

But what it all boiled down to was can the Corvette compete with European rivals? In a word —eh. When you’re behind the wheel you still feel a sense of “Americanism” about it.

 There’s something off about the drive, it feels too loose, too underwhelming in corners and tight situations.You best believe cars like the Porsche 911 and Audi R8 don’t have that problem. Nor does the exquisite Viper.

So at the end of the day, while the ‘Vette may not be the most comparative in driving dynamics to cars like the Porsche 911 or Audi R8, you have to remember why you’re even comparing the three in the first place.

 Because it’s almost that good, and for a fraction of the cost of those two. It’s what the Corvette is, and we can’t wait to see what the Z06 has to offer.


Stingray Front

Specs:
Engine: 6.2L V8
Horsepower: 460
0-60: 3.8 seconds
Price (as tested): $73,525


Positives:
Handsome new design
Grin-enducing power
More precise than previous generations
Cheaper than the competition


Negatives:
Still too “American” feeling
Minor quality issues