The second big Chevrolet Corvette debut of 2019 is upon us. This one isn’t quite as extraordinary as what we saw in July, when 50-plus years of thumb-twiddling finally came to fruition with the first mid-engined version of Chevy’s iconic American sports car. Whereas the new Stingray already lets driver and passenger enjoy a wind-in-your-hair experience with a lift-out roof, the 2020 Corvette Convertible automates the process while changing up the design just a bit. And indeed, it does look good.
While not quite as ground-breaking as moving the engine rearward, this model does mark another milestone for the Corvette. It’s the first retracting hardtop ever offered for America’s sports car, and it’s a pretty slick setup at that. The two-piece top lifts up and folds back over the engine, stored beneath a hard tonneau cover in a composite compartment that’s shielded to protect the top from heat. The top can be activated at speeds up to 30 mph and takes 16 seconds to fold. Six electric motors handle the transition, as opposed to hydraulic components used in previous cars. Chevrolet says this helps with reliability, though we also suspect it reduces weight. More on that in a bit.
The top itself is a composite piece that comes standard in body colour, or it can be finished in an optional Carbon Flash metallic for a dark look. As such, the tonneau cover with its cool aircraft-inspired nacelles also comes either in body colour or trimmed with the Carbon Flash finish. When the roof is up, the new convertible maintains much of the C8’s familiar styling. With it down, however, the supercar takes on quite a different appearance compared to previous-generation drop-top ‘Vettes. That’s enhanced with the rear window, which can be operated independently of the top to help manage airflow in the cabin when the roof is down. Perhaps more importantly, the top doesn’t block any of the C8’s precious cargo space when folded.
Performance-minded individuals likely have questions about rigidity, weight, and power with the new Corvette Convertible. GM doesn’t offer official information on potential weight gain from the added components, but a previous leak suggests the folding hardtop only adds 46 kilograms to the Corvette. We are told the new C8 was designed from the very beginning to be a convertible, with its centre-tunnel structure providing plenty of strength. Furthermore, folks can still have the convertible with the 495-bhp Z51 package, and we’re told there is no compromise in performance.
Production is slated to begin late this year – provided the ongoing UAW strike doesn’t delay things – and for open-air Corvette fans here in the UK, a right-hand-drive version will be available at a later date.
Gallery: Corvette C8 Stingray Cabrio 2020
Chevrolet Introduces First Hardtop Corvette Convertible
2020 Stingray convertible offers the same storage as coupe, even with the top down
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Open-air driving has always been a part of the Chevrolet
Corvette’s heritage. In fact, when the Corvette debuted in 1953, it was available only as a
convertible. The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible builds off that heritage as the first
hardtop and mid-engine convertible in Corvette history.
“We put the world on notice when we introduced the first mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette a few
months ago, and now we’re raising the bar with the first-ever hardtop Corvette convertible,” said
Brian Sweeney, Chevrolet U.S. vice president. “And the convertible will be priced only $7,500
more than entry 1LT Stingray coupe.”
First and foremost, a convertible
The mid-engine 2020 Corvette Stingray was engineered first and foremost as a convertible. The
convertible maintains the tunnel-dominant structure and use of high-integrity die-cast parts
found in the Stingray coupe.
The team engineered the hardtop to stow seamlessly into the body, maintaining the Stingray’s
impressive ability to store two sets of golf clubs in the trunk even with the top down. The
convertible also keeps the coupe’s front storage compartment, which can fit an airline-spec
carry-on and a laptop bag.
The hardtop provides a quieter cabin, increased security and a cleaner look compared to the
previous softtop designs.
“Our goal from the beginning was to make sure customers didn’t have to sacrifice any
functionality, performance or comfort when choosing the hardtop convertible,” said Josh Holder,
Corvette program engineering manager. “We managed to keep the same design theme as the
coupe, as well as the exceptional storage capacity and track capability.”
Inspired by jets
Like the coupe, the Stingray convertible’s design was inspired by fighter jets. The tonneau cover
features aerodynamically shaped nacelles influenced by the housing used for jet engines. The
nacelles, which were also used as inspiration on the Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle
(CERV) I and II, as well as the Corvette SS and SR2 concepts, help reduce air recirculation into
the cabin and provide a remarkably exotic profile with the top up or down. The tonneau also
provides a rear power-adjustable window and a vent for mid-engine cooling.
The two-piece top can be activated at speeds up to 30 mph and retract in as few as 16 seconds.
It is powered by six electric motors — a Corvette first — and uses encoders for precise control.
Switching to electric motors from hydraulic systems helps increase reliability. A body-colored
roof is standard, while Carbon Flash metallic-painted nacelles and roof are optional.
Careful attention was paid to make sure the engine could breathe when stored underneath the
tonneau cover. The sheet-molded composite top stows in a compartment made from lightweight
composite panels and heat shields to manage heat from the engine.
A divider glass window in the middle of the vehicle can be power adjusted with the top up or
down. The glass has been optimized to reduce air recirculation and wind noise in the cabin for
improved quietness. The roof system design, combined with the same rear spoiler used on the
Stingray coupe’s Z51 Performance Package, results in identical drag between the coupe and
convertible with the top up.
Engineers tweaked the chassis for the convertible, with springs and dampers tuned specifically
to provide nearly the same performance as the coupe.
No compromise performance
Like the Stingray coupe, the convertible is powered by the next-generation 6.2L Small Block V-8
LT2 engine, the only naturally aspirated V-8 in the segment. It will produce 495 horsepower
(369 kW) and 470 lb-ft (637 Nm) of torque when equipped with performance exhaust — the
most horsepower and torque for any entry Corvette.
The LT2 is paired with Chevrolet’s first eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, which provides
lightning-fast shifts and excellent power transfer. This transmission is uniquely designed to
provide the best of both worlds: the spirited, directly connected feeling of a manual and the
premium driving comfort of an automatic. The double-paddle de-clutch feature even allows the
driver to disconnect the clutch by holding both paddles for more manual control.
When combined, the advanced propulsion system, revised chassis tuning and retractable
hardtop make the 2020 Stingray the most no-compromise Corvette convertible in history.
Build and price tool now available
Interested Stingray shoppers can now build and price their own Corvette coupe or convertible
on the 2020 Corvette visualizer at Chevrolet.com.
A dedicated Chevrolet Corvette Concierge team will provide 2020 Corvette customers with
answers about the vehicle discovery, buying and ownership process. The team can be reached
by calling 866-424-3892. Customers can also live chat with a Corvette Concierge by visiting
Chevrolet.com. The team is available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EDT Mondays through Fridays.
The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray coupe goes into production at GM’s Bowling Green
Assembly in late 2019, with the convertible following in late first-quarter 2020. A right-hand drive
version of the convertible will be available in select international markets at a later date.