Now that the dust is beginning to settle with Chevrolet’s launch of the 2014 Corvette Stingray Coupe, it’s now time to turn our attention to the 2014 Corvette Stingray Convertibles that are just now being delivered to customers.
Last week we had the opportunity to drive the new Stingray Convertible through the mountains and high desert country surrounding Palm Springs, CA. The roads and weather were perfect for top down cruising so recline your seats and adjust your lumbar as we are going for a test drive in the new 2014 Corvette Stingray Convertible!
Somewhere on the California’s Scenic Highway 74…
As I drove through a series of curves and switchbacks in the high mountains outside Palm Springs, CA, I kept a tight two handed grip on the suede covered steering wheel.
I was driving the 2014 Corvette Stingray Convertible. This particular model was a Cyber Gray with a 1LT with black interior, but it came with the Z51 performance package and 7-speed manual transmission, magnetic selective ride control and the performance exhaust – 460 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque are at my beck and whim.
The Corvette Stingray Convertible was in 3rd gear as I threw the steering wheel one way and then the next. Powering out of the corners was fun with the Active Rev Matching automatically adjusting my shifts for 4th gear with the occasion to get up to 5th gear on some of the longer straits in the high desert country.
There is a different mindset when driving a convertible vs a coupe. The open air feeling you get when driving a convertible Corvette is a near zen-like experience as you feel the wind whipping at your face and body while the exhaust note behind you growls and then subsides in tune with the gas peddle. You become one with the car, anticipating where the road will lead you both next.
Previously, if you opted for the Convertible model, it usually meant you had to sacrifice performance for the drop top driving experience. But with the 7th generation Corvette Stingray, those days of compromises are long over.
It all starts with the new aluminum frame which is stiffer and lighter than the previous generation’s steel frame. You don’t feel any flexing or give as you power through the curves and the near 50/50 weight ratio keeps the car perfectly centered.
From there its content. Nearly every bit of content that goes into the Stingray Coupe is also available on the Stingray Convertible. The Z51’s dry sump oil system, active rev matching and the five driver select modes which give you the ability to tailor your drive to the conditions of the road – or should I say – it sets up the car for the kind of driving you want at that moment.
And you cannot talk about the Corvette Stingray and not give kudos to the interior design team. Two seat designs are available in the new car, the standard GT seats and the Competition Sport seats. This was our first go around with the new racing seat which are now just becoming available. The Competition Sport seat is much more firm than the base GT seats and the that firmness extends down the sides from the bolsters which keep you firmly planted.
The seats’ bolsters are adjustable and along with the seat heaters and fans, there are lumbar controls so you can get some modicum of comfort, but with those seats, comfort is secondary. If I was the type of driver that liked to travel long distances or only occassionally did a track event, then I would go with the regular GT seats. Your wife or significant other will thank you as well!
After a brief stop at one of the rally points of the drive, I traded cars with another writer and this time got an Arctic White non-Z51 automatic with the 3LT Brownstone interior.
Now this was the ultimate crusing Corvette. The 6-speed automatic is tuned for the C7 and operating the paddles on the steering wheel provide crisp shifts every time. But mostly I just left it in drive and the let the transmission do the work.
Driving the auto gave me some time to check out the Chevy MyLink entertainment center, finding several channels to switch back in forth on Sirrus/XM. The stereo really cranks up as there are speakers directly behind seats. The colored HUD was an option that the 1LT Cyber Gray Stingray didn’t have and so I would consider at least the 2LT trim to get that must have feature. At one point, the sun was behind me and shining directly down onto the dash, but both the NAV/My Link monitor and the gauge displays were very readable in the bright sun.
Cruising in the high country, I was usually in Sport mode but went through all five of the Driver Modes just to play around with the controls. Of course, Track mode is just about everybody’s favorite, expecially in the convertible when you can hear the exhaust open up.
The 3LT Brownstone is definitely one of my favorite colors as it looks and feels to be the most luxurious. The 3LT also provides suede accents on the door and instrument panels. The interior color pallet for 2014 Corvette Stingray includes Jet Black, Adrenaline Red, Gray, Kalahari and Brownstone.
The Corvette Stingray Convertible boasts an all-new convertible top that does an excellent job of keeping the noise levels down when the the top is up. It looks much more streamlined when its up and the material appears very firm without creases. It can be raised or lowered in just seconds and at speeds up to 30 MPH.
So what are the downsides to the Convertible vs the Coupe? Not many in our eyes. Although the top was redesigned, it still requires quite a bit of room for storage and the mechanics which raise and lower it. So you are sacrificing quite a lot of cargo area for the opportunity to put the top down. Another difference is on the exterior, the vents on the rear quarterpanels that feed air inside the body to the transmission lines and differential are relocated to the underside of the car.
But what this convertible does have in common with the Coupe is the best feature of all. The Corvette Stingray makes you a better driver. There’s a level of confidence that it inspires in each curve that falls away. The brakes are once again very tight and exceedingly good. Michelin’s contribution is also worth noting as the tires ability to grip and hold you to the road through some of those mountain curves while keeping the road noise down when the top was up make them some of the best tires we’ve seen on the Corvette.
The attention to details in the interior far exceeds anything that’s been done on previous Corvettes. The technology is endless as there was always some new feature or personalization settings that can be customized.
And then there’s that feeling you get driving with the top down. Nothing like it in the world.