Chevy’s seventh-generation Corvette was launched in the US in 2013 and went on sale in the UK in spring 2014. The convertible has been available here since October. For your £69,490 you get a beguilingly low-slung and distinctively styled soft-top sportscar packing a 466bhp 6.2-litre V8 in a chassis built primarily in aluminium, for a kerb weight of 1589kg. Choosing the soft-top over the coupe will cost you £4560 and incurs a 50kg weight penalty.
2015 Corvette Stingray convertible
For much of the Corvette’s 60-year existence the car has majored on visual drama and sledgehammer power, with such fripperies as a nicely resolved chassis some way down the list of priorities. But this Stingray is a very different proposition. It still does things its own way, with transverse composite leafsprings featuring in the suspension (a compact solution that gives a low centre of gravity) and a big-capacity, two-valves-per-cylinder V8 in the nose, but given how well the car drives and performs, you’re forced to admire, rather than decry, Chevy’s alternative engineering.
Striking on the outside, there’s much to like about the Stingray’s interior too, with great seats, decent finish and materials and some intriguing tech, from a clear and well-sited head-up display to Chevy’s optional Performance data and video package, which combines HD recording and datalogging to open up a world of post-commute debrief opportunities. More relevantly the magnetic dampers that are optional in the car’s home market are standard on UK cars. They’re linked to the five drive modes that also re-calibrate everything from throttle response to the e-diff. UK cars also get the Z51 package as standard, which includes the electronic limited-slip diff, a close-ratio gearbox, dry-sump lubrication, re-tuned suspension, slotted brake discs, bigger wheels – 19in fronts, 20in rears – and a bodywork aero package.
What’s the engine like?
In short, every bit as mighty as you’d hope. This Corvette may be a more balanced machine than its predecessors but the star of the show remains the small-block V8. It doesn’t disappoint, right from the moment it fires up through the quad-piped sports exhaust. There’s nothing so uncouth as a step or a dip in its power delivery, just instant big-engine-in-a-little-car wallop from any revs, in almost any gear. On the road the Stingray never feels anything less than properly fast, thundering between corners with such indecent haste it’s just as well the brakes are strong and fade-free. If you step out underwhelmed, the 650bhp Z06 is due here in the spring for a modest £20,000 premium.
Terrifying in corners?
Not really, no – indeed the 2015 Stingray delights in taking apart your preconceived ideas about Corvette handling. You brace yourself for heavy, cumbersome and untrustworthy. You get light, quick-witted and faithful, with incredible grip. A V6 S F-type would struggle to get away, especially on the kind of tricky, technical roads at which the relatively light and low Stringray really excels. The steering has real feel, especially in Sport mode, while clicking back into Tour or Eco gives the Stingray’s ride the pliancy to take the pain out of more prosaic journeys.
Corvette Stingray convertible (2015) – My verdict
The C7 Stingray is a hugely likeable sports car that blends just enough American flavour – big-capacity shove, great noise, suitably wild exterior shapes – with a newfound dynamic brilliance. Of course there are issues to overlook, not least having to work the thankfully pretty good seven-speed manual gearbox – with active rev-matching – with the ‘wrong’ hand, for now at least, but an almost vestigial boot (thanks to the folding soft top), a not inconsiderable thirst for fuel (23mpg on the combined cycle, 26mpg on the dash when you’re cruising) can’t detract from a Corvette worthy of the term ‘sportscar’.