This year’s Geneva Motor Show seems to be littered with motoring anniversaries from the Porsche 911 to Italdesign Giugiaro. Now it’s the Chevrolet Corvette’s turn as it hits 60 years on the market, and Chevy’s commemoration is the 2014 Corvette Stingray. Last month, we looked at the coupé version and now, at Geneva, it’s the turn of the Corvette Stingray convertible.
According to Chevrolet, the rear-wheel drive Stingray is the most powerful standard Corvette ever produced, and the soft-top convertible carries over the technology and performance from the coupé. This is something of a feat because without a roof, convertibles tend to be about as structurally stable as a cracker box. This means that convertibles tend to be rather heavy, because of the need to make up the loss of the roof.
The Stingray convertible gets around this with composite and carbon-fiber body panels and bonnet, a hydroformed aluminum frame with aluminum and magnesium structural and chassis components, and carbon-nano composite underbody panels that make the convertible 57 percent stiffer and 45 kilograms (99 lb) lighter than the coupé's current steel frame. The only structural changes involved making room for the folding roof and repositioning the safety belt mountings.
It also means that no other structural reinforcements are needed and both models have the same power-to-weight ratios, while the new aluminum frame helps shift weight rearward in the convertible for a 50:50 weight balance.
The convertible’s soft top is fully electronic and can be operated remotely with the key fob. It can also be opened or closed at speeds of up to 50 km/h (31 mph) and, to maintain aerodynamics when closed, the covering is a thick, three-ply fabric top with sound-absorbing padding and a glass rear window.
According to Chevrolet, the body’s design is intended to produce race-track level aerodynamics that “balance low drag for efficiency and performance elements for improved stability and track capability.” The interior is marked by magnesium-frame seats, carbon fiber and aluminum trim with hand-wrapped leather, and dual eight-inch infotainment screens.
Both the coupé and the convertible use the LT1 6.2-liter V8 engine with a cast aluminum block, direct injection, Active Fuel Management and continuously variable valve timing. It pumps out an estimated 450 bhp (335 kW) and 450 lb-ft (610 Nm) of torque. There’s the choice of a six-speed flappy paddle automatic gearbox or a seven-speed manual with Active Rev Match that anticipates gear selections and sets the engine speed to match.
Front suspension on the Corvette Stingray is a short/long arm (SLA) double wishbone with cast aluminum upper and lower control arms, a transverse-mounted composite spring, and a monotube shock absorber. Meanwhile, the rear has a similar arrangement with the addition of a transverse-mounted composite spring. The brakes are front and rear power-assisted discs with four-piston fixed front and rear calipers.
For the more adventurous, Chevrolet offers a track-capable Z51 Performance Package with an electronic limited-slip differential, dry-sump oiling system, integral brake, differential and transmission cooling, and an aero package to improve high-speed stability.
Chevrolet claims that the 2014 Stingray convertible, like the coupé, is an all-round vehicle as well as a track car. Given how many sports cars that are a dream on the Nürburgring rattle your teeth out on a drive to the shops, this remains to be seen.
The 2014 Corvette Stingray convertible goes on sale worldwide late this year.
The Geneva Motor Show runs March 7 to 17.
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