Test Drive: 2016 Corvette Convertible


As a man in his late 40’s that was born and raised in the U.S.A. and whose favorite music includes Bruce Springsteen and The Eagles, I’m pretty sure I fall into the primary market segment for a Corvette Convertible. Paying attention to the type of men actually driving Corvette’s bears this out, as I can’t remember the last time I saw someone driving a Corvette who wasn’t a middle-aged white guy. Be that as it may, the 2016 Corvette is such a good car that it will make you forget (mostly) about all the clichés that go with driving one.

I may fall into the target market for Corvette buyers, but I’ve always been much more attracted to European sports cars like Ferrari’s and Porsche’s. As a teenager, my bedroom wall was covered with posters of cars like the Ferrari 308 GTB and Porsche 930 Turbo, not Corvettes, Camaro’s or Mustangs. It wasn’t until I started attending American Le Mans Series races in 1999 and watching the Corvettes race that I started taking a closer look at the road cars and gaining an appreciation for them. Driving them over the last several years as an automotive writer has affirmed that, though they were not without their faults. After spending a week driving the new Corvette Convertible, it’s clear that Chevrolet has done their homework on the new C7 to make it the best Corvette yet.

The ingredients that make the 2016 C7 Corvette Coupe a great sports car also carry directly over to the Convertible. The C7 has a rigid and lightweight chassis with a powerful normally aspirated V8 mounted in the front, a sophisticated adaptive suspension and big Brembo brakes, all wrapped in curvaceous bodywork. The weight of the C7 Corvette Convertible is 3,362 pounds, which is only 64 pounds more than the C7 coupe and is on par with rivals like the Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet. In both coupe and convertible form, the C7 Corvette is a stunning car and draws as much attention as European exotics. I love the way it looks, though I wish the designers had gone with more traditional round taillights instead of the somewhat strange Camaro-esque units they went with.

One of the biggest improvements Chevy made to the C7 Corvette is in the interior. The seats in the C6 (as well as in previous Corvettes) were always too soft and unsupportive, but the C7 finally has the kind of seats that should be in a high-performance sports car, with firmer seat cushions and supportive lateral bolstering. Fit and finish overall is also improved, and there were no squeaks or rattles to speak of in the press cars I’ve driven. The convertible top is also well-finished and works well and the car looks just as good with the top up as down. One minor complaint I did have is that I wish the seats were mounted a little lower, as headroom was tight with the top up or down. Granted, I am 6’5”, but it would have been much more comfortable with an extra inch of headroom. Legroom was fine, and was helped by the new for 2016 flat-bottom steering wheel.

The C7 Corvette Convertible drives as good as it looks. The 6.2-liter V8 produces 455hp and 460 lb-ft. of torque and will get the convertible to 60mph in less than four seconds. The engine is smooth and powerful and works well with the torque converter eight-speed automatic transmission, though it’s not as smooth and quick as the dual-clutch automatics in other competitors from Porsche and BMW. With the power this car makes, it’s also very impressive that the car delivered around 30mpg on a long highway trip from New York to Boston. With the optional performance exhaust that was on my test car ($1,195), the Corvette also sounds fantastic, especially with the top down.

On twisty country roads, the Corvette is well balanced and responsive with very minimal flexing. I’ve driven both the coupe and the convertible and thought the convertible was better damped than the coupe while retaining its handling qualities. It feels as if the engineers at Corvette gave the convertible a suspension that’s just a bit softer and more compliant than the coupe, which actually makes it a better daily driver and more comfortable on highway trips. Corvette’s Magnetic Selective Ride Control suspension also lets the driver tailor the ride and handling to the driving situation, from highway cruising to track driving. I felt the Corvette was best in the “Tour” mode for normal daily driving, but was noticeably more responsive in the “Sport” mode for more entertaining driving on fun roads. The “Track” mode was a little too firm for anything other than very smooth roads. The electronic display also changes based on driving mode.

Overall, I was very impressed with the C7 Corvette Convertible. It hits all the right buttons with the intangible things that make true sports cars exciting and involving to drive, and it has the performance numbers to back up its looks. It’s also loaded with technology for on-board connectivity and data recording, as well as a heads-up display. At a base price of $56,395 for the coupe and $60,395 for the convertible, the Corvette is also an incredible value for the level of equipment and performance it offers. Even with the 3LT package and additional options that my test car had, it still came in at an MSRP of under $74,000, which is a bargain compared to the $101,700 Porsche charges for the base model 911 Carrera Cabriolet.

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