2020 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible Blasts Off
Yes, the engine is still in the back.
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – The C8 Corvette is the biggest deal in sports cars right now, and it might be the biggest in decades. Maybe you’re getting a bit tired of hearing about it by now, but Chevrolet’s hoping you aren’t. And if you are tired of the mid-engine car that’s been stealing just about every headline for the last year or so – with rumours long before it was finally revealed back in July – Chevrolet is hoping that this will get you back in the game. Though with more than 24,000 hours spent on the online configurator and more than 37,000 preorders maybe you aren’t tired of it. In any case, it’s time for the open-top version of the new Corvette. This is the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible. And yes, the engine is still in the back.
This isn’t the first one with a hard roof that comes off; after all the Corvette has had T-Tops and Targa roofs just about forever, but this is the first time that the entire roof is solid pieces that can fold and retract into the rear of the car. That’s a big deal for a whole host of reasons. Better wind isolation and less cabin noise than a fabric roof, better visibility out the sides and back than a fabric roof, and, since this is Canada, it’s warmer inside in the winter, too. Hey, that extra mid-engine traction is good for grip in the snow, too, assuming you can find a set of snow tires in “gigantic” at your local tire barn. And there’s a “Weather” setting in the drive modes.
So here’s what’s the same as the hardtop: A 6.2L V8 mounted just behind the driver’s right ear that produces 490 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque. It’s still backed by an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, and yes that’s still the only choice. Don’t like it, GM says too bad because this is the way of the future. The same interior, a massive upgrade over previous Corvettes, with dual-zone climate control and standard leather seats. Get the 2LT or higher and those seats are heated and ventilated (with a heated wheel) for that cold-weather topless fun we were talking about earlier.
The Stingray coupe was revealed in one of two enormous airship hangars in Tustin, CA. Buildings 17 stories high, 89m wide, and 327 m long (is that a small-block engine reference?). Surprisingly, they were able to eclipse those for the convertible. This one was revealed at the Kennedy Space Centre’s Rocket Garden. Not just because the new C8s are rocket ships, but because the Corvette and NASA astronauts were nearly synonymous through the 1960s thanks to a dealer with a remarkable eye for a marketing play.
So what’s new? Well, that folding hard top. It uses six motors and can drop in 16 seconds at speeds up to about 50 km/h. Of course, if you’ve got the throttle on the floor, it can run 0-100 km/h in “about three seconds.” Performance testing is still ongoing, so there’s not a firm figure. What is firm is that with the Z51 package it’ll still generate around 200 kg of downforce at near 300 km/h. The car has some suspension tweaks to make sure it has the same handling as the slightly lighter coupe.
The top’s rear window retracts with the roof, but you can also pop it back up to eliminate some wind buffeting in the cabin. Or, and, we like this one, put the rear window down with the roof up when it’s raining or cold and you still want to bring the new V8’s sweet, sweet noise into the cabin. The nacelles behind your head are inspired by the housings of jet engines, as well as classic GM research projects like the CERV I and II. They’re designed to bridge the gap between windshield and bodywork with style as well as for aerodynamic effectiveness. The top is body colour as standard, but the carbon flash metallic paint is optional.
You might think the convertible would be less practical, but Chevrolet is still proud to say that buyers can fit a pair of golf bags in the trunk. Even with the roof down. And there’s still a front-trunk that can hold an airline carry-on. But in this one, you always get priority boarding, clearance for takeoff, and only need to fight one other passenger for the bin space.
Adding the folding top instead of the open and vented engine cover on the coupe posed some cooling issues for the V8. Since they couldn’t uncover the engine, a different way of letting out warm air was needed. The solution is the triple vent you can see in the middle of the decklid at the edge of the trunk lid. The team says they’ll let enough air out to keep temperatures in check.
The C8 coupe offered amazing value, coming in at just $69,998 including freight. The convertible’s extra bits will run you more, so Chevrolet has pegged it at an extra $9,000 in Canada. That premium applies to whatever trim you get, including the Z51 package cars. With a base price of $78,998, it’s still a fraction of any comparable models.
Chevrolet is planning to start production of the C8 Coupe by the end of the year at the Bowling Green, KY plant that’s home to Corvette. The convertible is set to start production late in the first quarter of next year. And GM says that though they’ve taken more than 37,000 orders so far, they still have 2020 slots available for buyers who want their cars sooner rather than later.