Len Ingrassia: New open-air Corvette is stunning

Corvette introduced its convertible model late this year featuring distinct cosmetic differences while maintaining its mid-engine exotic look.Photo courtesy Len Ingrassia

As if the new midengine Corvette needed another accolade in its stable, Chevrolet has delivered with the return of the convertible. Aficionados won’t be surprised because the original C1 Corvette was open air in 1953.

This is no ordinary convertible though, and it is a thing of beauty to watch unfold. Six power motors are activated in sequence to transform its roof panels from fixed hardtop to open air in 16 seconds at speeds up to 30 mph.

Like a symphony in motion, a large rear panel lifts upward as the roof panels are raised and lowered just above the engine before the outer panel collapses on top.

While the convertible option adds $7,500 to the $60,000 base price, the combination is still a bargain in the world-class car category. It’s an impressive list, too, including Lamborghini, Ferrari and McLaren, each in the $200,000 to $300,000 range.

The just-released convertible comes on the heels of the new 2020 Stingray that we recently reviewed. While similar in overall design, there are distinct differences.

We were smitten with a clear view of the midengine, which is covered over with the convertible panels. Although removable T-tops offer a partial open-air feeling, they are no substitute for the convertible.

Bottom-line: Why spend hundreds of thousands on exotics when the Corvette looks phenomenal and outperforms most everything on the road? Speaking of performance, the Corvette is powered by a 495-horsepower, naturally aspirated V8 mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission. While no manual transmission available, the new transmission is automatic in name only.

With no torque converter, a dual clutch regulates each clutch pack and input shaft with split-second precision, propelling the Corvette to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds.

Gear selection is accomplished with center console-mounted buttons or through steering wheel-mounted paddles.

Multiple driving modes are available to customize your ride including Tour, Eco, Weather, Sport and Track. Settings can be stored for each mode and are enabled with the push of a button located next to the square steering wheel.

Pedal pressure delivers instant thrust at nearly any speed while available performance exhaust can be regulated to your preference.

While hard to imagine, there is enough cargo space for two golf bags with more cargo available in the front hatch.

Cabin environment can be customized using a driver-angled row of 14 buttons and three toggle switches with driver features on top and passenger climate below. Customizable digital gauges monitor engine vitals and driving modes with a 12-inch screen and an 8-inch info display at center console for navigation, entertainment and phone.

Aside from its nameplates, the new Corvette has little resemblance to its predecessors, evidenced by crowds taking photos in parking lots and on the road with high fives everywhere in between.

The two-seater offers multipowered seat adjustments with lumbar support and an available heads-up display for keeping eyes on the road especially helpful during spirited driving maneuvers.

Len Ingrassia is an independent automotive columnist. Contact him at lenscarcorner@comcast.net.

What was reviewed

2020 Corvette Stingray Convertible

Engine: 6.2-liter midengine V8, 495 horsepower.

EPA mileage: 15 city, 27 highway, 19 combined.

Assembled: Final assembly at Bowling Green, Ky.

Crash test ratings: Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has rated the Corvette as of this writing.

Warranty: three-year/36,000-mile basic; five-year/60,000-mile powertrain; first scheduled maintenance visit.

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