An open-top Corvette isn’t anything new (in fact, it was the only state the original 1953 model was available in), but the fact that each example of the newest generation car has its engine behind the driver opens up new avenues of complexity, making the integration of a typical folding roof solution more problematic.
Needless to say, most Corvettes of previous generations as well as the C8 did give its owner access to a sky view thanks to a manually removable roof panel, effectively making each car a ‘targa’. But there was always a market for a proper cabriolet, begging the curiosity of what would the automaker do to carry that over to this newest, and drastically different, version.
To our surprise, Chevrolet have chosen to take the more complicated and arguably more costly route with the newest convertible ‘Vette, which now incorporates a folding hardtop that conceals itself within a redesigned rear deck, just above the LT2 V8, integrating nicely into the car’s rakish profile while providing adequate heat protection from said engine.
This method mirrors several European mid-engine supercars such as the Ferrari F8 Tributo and McLaren 720S. It is the first time in a very long time that the convertible Corvette did not include a vinyl or cloth roof, and to execute this, Chevrolet wanted to ensure that the folding hard top and its ancillary mechanisms would only incur a minimal weight penalty over its (mostly) fixed roof counterpart.
Consequently, a composite material was chosen that satisfied needs for reduced mass as well as strength and durability, using two panels that use 6 electric motors to fold out or retract in 16 seconds at speeds of up to about 50km/h. Chevrolet says that this Convertible version of C8 Stingray weighs only 36kg more overall.
The fact that even the C8 coupe was designed to be equally structurally rigid with or without its stow-able roof affixed meant that the usual additional strengthening done to other convertible supercars was not a factor that bothers the new Corvette Convertible at the weight scales.
“Our goal from the beginning was to make sure customers didn’t have to sacrifice any functionality, performance or comfort when choosing the hardtop convertible. We managed to keep the same design theme as the coupe, as well as the exceptional storage capacity and track capability.” - Josh Holder, Corvette Program Engineering Manager
Other than that, the car is identical to the standard C8 Stingray apart from the US$7,500 premium, with all the cabin appointments, tech features, and customisation options available. Chevrolet, however, isn’t guaranteeing the Convertible matching the exact performance of the hardtop, but we imagine there being only a very slight differential in acceleration and top speed. That said, we'd be shocked if it matches non-Convertible's 2.95 second 0-100km/h sprint time, even with optional Z51 performance package fitted.
A newly developed naturally aspirated 6.2-litre LT2 version of the automaker’s Small Block V8 is making its debut in the C8 Corvette, engineered to work perfectly with its new-for-the-nameplate mid-engine configuration and developing 369kW and 637Nm and mated, exclusively, to an 8-speed dual clutch transmission.