FULLY VET­TED

2014 Chevro­let Corvette Stingray makes bold style state­ment

Post-Tribune - - To Drive - BY JEFF TAY­LOR

Last fall Chevro­let in­tro­duced the C7 Corvette Stingray coupe gar­ner­ing an enor­mous fol­low­ing and awards in­clud­ing “2014 North Amer­i­can Car of the Year.” The fol­low-up act is a 2014 C7 con­vert­ible, which pro­vides the ul­ti­mate in head­room and curb ap­peal.

The 2014 Chevro­let Corvette Stingray con­vert­ible makes a bold styling state­ment and em­braces ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy. With the top down, the Stingray’s sig­na­ture pro­file was fur­ther ac­cen­tu­ated with black trim pan­els, spoil­ers, black wheels and meaty tires (P285/30R20 rears) that en­hanced the body lines of the car. With the top up, the pro­file is not as clean and looks a bit an­gu­lar.

New Stingray con­vert­ibles fea­ture a fully elec­tronic top that can be low­ered re­motely (in 21 seconds) us­ing the key fob, or in-car with the push of a but­ton. I also liked that the top can be opened or closed on the go up to 30 miles per hour.

Styling and drop-top fun are only part of the deal. If you opt f or the Z51 Per­for­mance Pack­age (my test car) Chevy pro­vides 460 horse­power and 465 pound-feet of torque from the 6.2-liter V8. My test car came with a seven-speed man­ual with Ac­tive Rev Match that achieves 17 city and 29 high­way En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency mileage num­bers.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the Z51 pack­age fea­tures in­te­gral cool­ers for the rear dif­fer­en­tial and trans­mis­sion, and a free-flow­ing ex­haust sys­tem. Air­flow through the dif­fer­en­tial and trans­mis­sion heat ex­chang­ers ex­its through the air­craft-in­spired tail­lamp vents and low­er­rear fas­cia air out­lets. The Z51 Per­for­mance Pack­age also in­cludes brake-cool­ing ducts, a great-look­ing unique rear spoiler. and ad­di­tional air de­flec­tors for en­hanced track ca­pa­bil­ity.

Slip­ping in­side you’re greeted by a pun­gent plas­tic/leather/car­pet smell. From be­hind the wheel, you would never know the coupe and the con­vert­ible are dif­fer­ent cars with the top up. The thick fab­ric top, along with sound-ab­sorb­ing pad­ding and a glass rear win­dow, does a de­cent job of qui­et­ing/seal­ing the cabin.

The big­gest knock on the last two Corvette gen­er­a­tions was the low-rent in­te­ri­ors. With the C7, Chevro­let has greatly im­proved and up­graded the in­te­rior. Seat com­fort takes a pri­or­ity, as they are the most sup­port­ive and best-look­ing seats in more than 10 years. There’s a lot go­ing on in­side on the dash from per­for­mance read­outs, navi, in­fo­tain­ment, ve­hi­cle sys­tems data and a heads up dis­play pre­sented on con­fig­urable elec­tronic gauges and screens. The de­sign, build qual­ity and ma­te­ri­als are much bet­ter and be­fit­ting of a car of iconic sta­tus. Stor­age could be a lit­tle bet­ter, and Corvette’s trunk only holds 10.2 cu­bic feet and no spare.

On the street, dial it into one of four Driver Mode Selections en­gaged via a ro­tary knob near the shifter. A Tour mode de­fault is for nor­mal driv­ing;Weather mode is for rain/snow con­di­tions; Eco mode max­i­mizes fuel econ­omy; Sport mode for ag­gres­sive road driv­ing, and Track mode for max­i­mum per­for­mance driv­ing. In Sport, the sweet ex­haust note is worth the price of ad­mis­sion. Corvette still has some “old school” fla­vor, as it rum­bles and shakes at idle, and while the steer­ing is elec­tric it feels very com­mu­nica­tive. The shifter with Ac­tive Rev Match­ing shifts in­stills con­fi­dence, mak­ing you feel like a pro­fes­sional drag racer. Once you launch, hold on tight as the front end rises, and the rear can kick out on you. De­pend­ing on which “mode,” you’re in, the ride ranges from firm to com­fort­able.

At $62,995 for a Z51 equipped con­vert­ible, the 2014 Corvette Stingray drop-top is the best con­vert­ible per­for­mance bang for the buck.

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