2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 Convertible First Test
It’s The Complete Package
There are some cars that just elicit responses from those nearby. Usually these cars are pretty exotic. The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG usually gets thumb-ups, as does the McLaren 12C, but in my time at Motor Trend, never has something as seemingly common as a Chevrolet Corvette Convertible generated so many reactions from pedestrians and other drivers -- especially in Los Angeles. To be fair though, this is a pretty special 'Vette, as this look-at-me yellow 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 Convertible is among the quickest Corvette convertibles we've ever tested.
Even when not exploiting its 460-hp LT1 V-8, the new Corvette Stingray Z51 Convertible is an attention magnet. Maybe it’s the 'Vette's bright-yellow paint, or maybe it’s the fact that the new Corvette Stingray is arguably the best-looking Corvette since disco was a thing. Whatever it is, the drop-top Stingray turns heads. A simple drive to the grocery store resulted in an Accord pacing me, with its backseat passengers snapping pictures. Neighbors knocked on my door to check it out. Parked out on Santa Monica's Main Street on a Friday night and I got questions galore – everything from "Is that a Ferrari?" (Nope) to "Are you a DJ?" (Negative). The most remarkable thing about all this attention is that it was mostly from younger generations. For the first time in my lifetime, the Corvette actually appeals to younger drivers whose only real car-related concern could be when their next Lyft arrives.
The new Corvette Stingray Z51 Convertible doesn't just look good, it drives well too. It should, with a glorious new 6.2-liter V-8 under the hood, pushing out 460 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque when equipped with the performance exhaust. Our seven-speed manual-equipped 'Vette came with more performance add-ons than just an exhaust; it also came with the track-tuned Z51 package, and magnetic ride control. It's no surprise than that the Corvette Stingray Convertible is quicker out of the gate than California Chrome. Our yellow 'Vette accelerates from 0-60 mph in just 3.8 seconds, and goes on to finish the quarter mile in 12.2 seconds at 116.9 mph. That 0-60 mph figure is just a tenth of a second slower than the Stingray coupe, while the quarter mile time is just two-tenths of a second off. The Corvette Stingray convertible also manages to match the old LS7-powered C6 Corvette 427 in a race to 60, though the 427 starts to walk away from the new Stingray in the quarter mile – there's no replacement for displacement, is there? At any rate, at least the Corvette Stingray convertible can out-brake the Corvette 427, stopping from 60 mph in 90 feet, as opposed to 101 feet.
Though the Corvette 427 walks away from the Stingray in a drag race, the new Corvette convertible more than makes up for it when the roads get twisty. The Stingray pulled an eye-bursting 1.04 g average on the skidpad, and completed the figure eight in 23.8 seconds with an 0.86 average g. Somewhat surprisingly, that figure bests the fastest Corvette Stingray Z51 Coupe we've ever tested, which lapped the figure eight in 23.8 seconds at 0.85 g. The best the old Corvette 427 can muster is 24.1 seconds at 0.84 g average.
All the superlatives of the Corvette Stingray Coupe carryover to the drop-top version. The seven-speed manual is fantastically smooth (if missing a bit of preciseness when down-shifting from seventh), the steering is quick and weighty, and Corvette Stingray Convertible just launches hard when you get on it. The Stingray's new advanced traction control system seriously works wonders. It intervenes, but so quickly and subtly that you're never aware it's actually doing anything, save for the little light that illuminates on the dashboard. It makes you feel like you're a driving god, even if you're at best just some nobody behind the wheel of an embarrassingly yellow Corvette.
But what a nice Corvette it is. I've never been a convertible fan (or big Corvette fan, for that matter) but I can't even begin to express the quality chasm between the C7 Corvette convertible and the C6 version. Visually, the Corvette Stingray Convertible looks killer with the top up or down. Its panel gaps are tight, and the rear bumper no longer flexes if you push in on it. Inside, the top drops quickly and at speeds up to 30 mph. The seats (the optional competition sport seats in this case) are supportive and look great, and the suede-covered steering wheel no longer gives you blisters while driving, The Corvette Convertible is finally the real deal.
And yet, it's still a bargain compared to competitors like the Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet. While not exactly cheap, with a $76,465 as-tested price, a comparably equipped 911 Carrera S Cab would set a buyer back well more than six-figures – at which point you'll likely be able to score one of the new 650-hp Corvette Z06 Convertibles. Our Corvette Stingray Convertible tester's base price was $58,800, with the single most expensive option being the 3LT Preferred Equipment Group, which adds features like Napa leather upholstery, heated and cooled seats, a 10-speaker Bose audio system, and a color head-up display.
Ultimately, the new 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 convertible is more than just the quickest Corvette convertible we've ever tested. It's now a refined, yet hair-raising sports car that needs no excuses, and the fact that it gets you a few looks along the way and that it’s the best value in the segment makes it all the more enjoyable.
|2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 Convertible|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$76,465|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door convertible|
|ENGINE||6.2L/460-hp/465-lb-ft OHV 16-valve V-8|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3480 lb (49/51%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||176.9 x 73.9 x 48.6 in|
|0-60 MPH||3.8 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||12.2 sec @ 116.9 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||90 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||1.04 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||23.8 sec @ 0.86 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||17/29/21 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||198/116 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||0.93 lb/mile|