Review: 2015 Corvette Stingray Convertible
For years, we have had a love/hate relationship with the Corvette. Tons of power in a lightweight, all-American sports car? Awesome. But the creaks and groans from the car (not to mention a majority of its male owners complete with tufted white chest hair sprouting from between links of gold chains) could be a bit off-putting. Was it worth the company?
With the new 2015 Corvette Stingray Convertible Z51, Chevrolet introduces a true roadster with loads of refinement and power, not to mention character that appeals to both younger and seasoned motorists alike.
We drove the top off this latest version of the Z51 Convertible. Read on.
What is it?
The 2015 Corvette Stingray Convertible Z51 is the chop-topped version of the coupe of the same name. Powered by a direct-injected, 6.2-liter V8 with cylinder deactivation, it would normally produce 455 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. But since this is the freer-breathing, medium-zoot Z51 version sporting a dual-mode performance exhaust, it achieves 460 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque while cruising along at a moderately sedate 4,600 rpm. If that’s medium zoot, then what occupies the top slot? Why, the 650-horsepower Z06, of course.
Although there is a standard seven-speed manual transmission with rev-matching, our Z51 was equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Don’t fret, control freaks: standard equipment includes wheel-mounted paddle shift levers. It replaces the six-speed auto gearbox that was available in the 2014 model year. Normal operations occur in standard drive mode with manual on demand whenever you squeeze the paddles. Otherwise, set the drive selector lever in Manual (M) mode and you are all manual, all the time.
Like the coupe, the base model convertible is simply the “Stingray.” and “Stingray Z51” levels with 1LT, 2LT and 3LT trim groups. Included with our Z51-equipped tester was a load of kit from the GM parts bin. They included standard Brembo brakes, a sport-tuned suspension, slotted brake rotors, and a dry sump oiling system.
Chevrolet went all out on this convertible, equipping it with magnetic ride control that is found in everything from the high-performance Cadillac CTS-V, to various Ferrari automobiles and even in the big brother Z06 Corvette. MRC works in conjunction with a console-mounted Drive Control dial that allows the driver to select between Weather, Touring, Sport, Track and cylinder-deactivating ECO modes, each which do their part to change the drive parameters according to a driver’s needs and moods.
Since our roadster came with the navigation system and its high-def eight-inch display, it was also equipped with the available Performance Data Recorder. An ultra slick package, it allows users to record high definition video with telemetry of all their on- and off-track exploits. Finally, our Corvette also included OnStar with 4G LTE and a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot.
What’s it up against?
The Corvette Stingray Z51 Convertible’ performance (and its price, if you’re not careful with the build sheet) competes with the likes of the Nissan GT-R, Porsche’s 911, Dodge‘s Viper, BMW’s M4 and the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe. All are very worthy competitors, although only the Porsche and BMW can boast of being able to go topless in factory form.
How does it look?
The Corvette for a new generation, the 2015 Stingray Convertible builds on all of the jaw-dropping designs that made it a hit with an entirely new audience since its introduction last year. Starting with the LED lamps and standard HID projector headlights and leading up through its sculpted and rather crisply designed derriere, it is a combination of elegance and functionality (vents and intakes) at the same time.
Except this time, they lopped the top off tha sucka. Contrary to practices from the past, the convertible was designed in conjunction with the coupe, and as a result did not require the extensive bracing and reinforcements of prior generation Corvettes. Credit goes to the design engineers and the use of high-strength steel throughout the vehicle.
The electronic convertible top can be opened or closed remotely via key fob or with the flip of a switch just above the driver’s left knee. Able to do its duty in 21 seconds, it can be operated at speeds up to 30 mph.
Atlantic- and Pacific Design Packages are available options that cater to luxury fitment inside the car, including custom luggage, or conversely, high-performance-inspired outfitting that dresses the car further for those who regularly attend track day events, respectively.
Inside refinements have brought raves to the new Corvette, and make it a vehicle that you can live-in for extended drive times, rather than one that can only be appreciated in small doses. High quality abounds, with a few exceptions including a rather chintzy-looking starter pushbutton.
Our 2LT-equipped version was equipped with a very usable- and customizable head up display, and heated / ventilated leather seats that were fully adjustable all the way down to the movable side bolsters. It also received an upgraded, and quite good, Bose sound system with a factory subwoofer.
Storage space was at a minimum, due in part to the folding roof mechanism that hides under the tonneau cover of the rear deck. For the record, there’s 10 cubic feet of storage under the trunklid, so be prepared to pack your things in a couple of gallon-sized Ziploc bags.
Does it go?
The Corvette Stingray Z51 hits the trifecta: A total blast, super fast, and without the creaks and groans. With monstrous throttle response and insane acceleration from the LT-1 6.2-liter V8, neck-snapping thrust is the order of the day. Adding to the visceral appeal is the lusty growl of 460 angry horses that grow to a crescendo that blares from the quad-pipes of the high-performance exhaust system.
The eight-speed automatic transmission offered stellar performance, instantly dropping gears on demand when sudden acceleration was requested. It never made a false move. Steering from the electric power-assisted rack and pinion setup was firm and sure-footed depending on speed, and allowed rapid lane changes almost at the speed of thought. In other words, think where you want to be, and you’ll find you’re nearly there.
If you think you want to go from zero-to-60 mph, the automatic-equipped Z51 will get you there in four seconds flat, which incidentally is a tenth of a second faster than you can expect from the manual.
The Magnetic Ride Control offered settings that complied with all the various road surfaces we encountered. The default touring settings offered the cushiest ride but regardless, the Corvette’s drive attitude did not abuse its occupants the way some other sportscars will.
That’s not to say that a fair amount of road noise didn’t creep in. Normal city driving is compatible with inside voices. At speed it’s a completely different thing, with a somewhat tolerable thrum that is noticed, especially when making hands-free calls.
Leftlane’s bottom line:
The 2015 Corvette Stingray Z51 Convertible scales new heights in refinement and performance. That America’s Sports Car continues to roll along, getting better and better as time goes by, is noteworthy. That it’s able to do so for the relatively bargain price of $75-large is extraordinary.
2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Conv. W/Z51 Base Price: $64,000, As tested, $74,965. Includes: 2LT Package, $4,160; Magnetic Ride Control with PTM, $1,795; Performance Data and Video Recorder with Navigation, $1,795; Eight-speed Automatic transmission with paddle shifters, and remote vehicle start, $1,725; Black painted aluminum alloy, 19 and 20-inch wheels, $495; Destination fee, $995.
Photos by Mark Elias
Review: 2015 Corvette Stingray Convertible Reviewed by Mark Elias on June 22 Z51 handling meets drop-top motoring. Rating: 4