The latest C8 series of Chevrolet Corvette switched to a mid-engine layout for the first time, and now the convertible brings another dramatic change to the line – a retractable hardtop roof.
The Corvette convertible maintains the coupe’s sleek profile, though the placement of the roof mechanism means there’s no longer a window to the engine. The roof is body-coloured by default but you can opt for it and the flying buttresses to be painted in contrasting Carbon Flash metallic grey.
The C8’s two-piece, composite roof can be activated at speeds of up to 48km/h and takes 16 seconds to fully retract. It’s powered by six electric motors and is stowed beneath the rear tonneau and engine cover.
The convertible weighs only 34kg more than the coupe and there doesn’t appear to be any penalty in boot space, the boot still capable of accommodating two sets of golf clubs even with the top down. If you have any more luggage, there’s also space in the front of the car where Corvette engines used to go.
There’s a power-adjustable, glass divider window in the middle of the vehicle which can be adjusted regardless of whether the roof is up or down.
Like the coupe, the convertible uses GM’s LT2 6.2-litre naturally-aspirated V8, producing 370kW of power and 637Nm of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission and Chevrolet estimates a 0-60mph (0-97km/h) time of less than three seconds for the coupe.
Given the scant weight penalty of the convertible and its identical drag figure to the coupe with the roof up, don’t expect that time to be much slower for the drop-top.
Remember, too, that this is just the entry-level Corvette and more powerful models will arrive in due course.
The convertible's springs and dampers have been, in the words of Chevrolet's PR people, "tuned specifically to provide nearly the same performance as the coupe".
Pricing has been announced for the US, with the base 1LT convertible costing US$67,495 (A$100,493). This represents a premium of US$7,500 (A$11,171) over the base 1LT coupe.
Those who want the fresh-air experience but bristle at spending several thousand dollars more may be satisfied with the coupe’s removable roof panel.
Every generation of Corvette since the first, convertible-only C1 in 1953 has been available as a convertible, although the body style took an extended leave of absence from 1976 until 1986. No Corvette convertible, however, has ever featured a retractable hardtop roof. The only Corvette-based model to feature such a roof was the 2004-09 Cadillac XLR.
The number of new cars with folding hardtop roofs has been dwindling since the format’s salad days of the mid-2000s. Just a few years ago, Chrysler, Ford, Infiniti, Lexus, Mitsubishi, Opel, Peugeot, Renault, Volkswagen and Volvo all sold what are sometimes referred to as coupe convertibles. Today, only BMW, Ferrari, Mazda, McLaren and Mercedes-Benz still sell them.
The new Corvette will be coming to Australia as a factory right-hand drive vehicle in late 2020 or early 2021, though at this stage it’s unclear whether the local range will include the convertible.
CarAdvice contacted Holden regarding local prospects for the drop-top 'Vette, and GM's local division was unable to confirm any details, though it expects to have an announcement by the end of the year.
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