John Wayne, apple pie, and the Corvette – yep, all three are purely American through and through. Well, that’s if you don’t count Wayne’s Scotch-Irish heritage and all the European influence found in the latest generation C7. It’s undeniable that Chevrolet has plenty of competition from over-seas automakers that ultimately made the Corvette what it is today. Nevertheless, the Vette still waves Ole Glory as its burns rubber down the main drag of Everytown, U.S.A. every Friday night.

Through the years, the Vette has grown up. No longer is its interior filled with cut-rate plastics and its exterior shaped like a bar of soap. Those are fightin’ words to Corvette fans, but the seventh generation car is simply light years ahead of the C6. It’s truly a competitive car in every respect to its counterparts.

The same holds true for its drop-top version.

I recently had the chance to spend a week behind the wheel of a 2016 Corvette Convertible equipped with the seven-speed manual transmission and Z51 Performance Package. While not my first time behind the wheel of a C7, its canvas top, do-it-yourself shifting, and track-ready package were all a change of pace from my last experience.

It was no surprise the convertible is just as fun as the coupe, especially with the manual transmission. That allowed complete control over the Vette’s mighty 6.2-liter V-8. Its active exhaust system with programmable sound settings made the most of the small-block’s rumble – something I never got enough of.

Continue reading for the full driven review

  • 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible - Driven
  • Year:
    2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Transmission:
    Seven-speed manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    460 @ 6000
  • MPG(Cty):
    17
  • MPG(Hwy):
    29
  • Torque @ RPM:
    465 @ 4600
  • Energy:
    Direct Injection
  • Displacement:
    6.2 L
  • 0-60 time:
    3.9 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    181 mph
  • Layout:
    Front Engine; Rear Drive
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Walk-Around Video


Exterior

2016 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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The Corvette Stingray is just as menacing as the day it debuted. Its sharp lines, strong bulges, and purposeful aero bits give the car a bark that matches its performance bite.

The V-8's loud rumble and pops makes driving the convertible ever more attractive

Though the coupe is my personal favorite, the convertible still looks good. It does lose the quarter panel vents behind the doors and its profile isn’t as attractive with the top up. Press and hold the dash-mounted button, and the power soft top retracts in short order, giving both occupants a fantastic open-air experience. It’s with the top down that the active performance exhaust really shines. Its loud rumble and pops makes driving the convertible ever more attractive.

My tester came with the Z51 Performance Package, which includes the black wheels sized in 19 inches up front and 20 inches out back. Slotted brake rotors peek from behind those aluminum rollers and help stop the 3,362-pound car on the fastest of tracks. The other Z51 upgrades are found under the skin – something we’ll get to later.

Interior

2016 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible - Driven High Resolution Interior
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2016 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible - Driven High Resolution Interior
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2016 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible - Driven High Resolution Interior
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After decades of waiting, the Corvette’s seventh-generation interior is finally competitive. Soft-touch materials, quality leather, intuitive controls, an ergonomic layout, and digital gauges that are informative and fun to look at. Thankfully, none of that changes between the coupe and convertible.

Apple CarPlay, combined with the 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot, makes the Vette a tech-lovers dream

Fitted with the 3LT trim level, my tester came decked out with a leather-covered dashboard, power-memory seats, the Performance Data and Video recorder, a color heads-up display, front-mounted curb view cameras, and a laundry list of additional features.

While the interior hasn’t changed much since 2014, Chevy has added Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for 2016. That, combined with the 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot, makes the Vette a tech-lovers dream. As an iPhone user, I found CarPlay works extremely well and offers a great alternative to the standard MyLink system. CarPlay lets allows you to run navigation from your phone, along with calls, verbal text messaging, iTunes and other music apps, and a host of third party compatible applications. MyLink – which is one of the better infotainment software programs out there – is still needed for controlling vehicle-centric options and settings.

Drivetrain

2016 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible - Driven High Resolution Drivetrain
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At the heart of the Corvette is GM’s latest and greatest small-block V-8. Displacing 6.2 liters, the LT1 makes 455 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. Thanks to the performance, dual-mode exhaust, power levels increase to 460 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. Additionally, the Z51 package adds a dry-sump oiling system that keeps the engine lubricated regardless of g-forces exerted on the track.

Active Rev Match means you’ll never miss a downshift again

Coming standard with the Corvette is a seven-speed manual transmission. The performance-bred gearbox is the same unit found on the Corvette Z06 and features Active Rev Matching – a computerized system for matching engine revs with the vehicle speed during the split sections before a downshift. You’ll never miss a downshift again.

Added with the Z51 package is an electronically controlled, limited-slip differential with upgraded gear ratios. This helps Z51-equipped Vettes hit 60 mph in roughly 3.9 seconds. Those opting for the eight-speed automatic will find 3.7-second runs to 60 mph possible.

Despite all this performance, the big V-8 returns respectable fuel economy numbers. The EPA rates it at 17 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined. That’s thanks to its Active Fuel management system, which cuts off four cylinders to save fuel. This happens automatically when all 460 horsepower isn’t needed.

Driving Impressions

2016 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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All the looks, leather, and horsepower mean nothing if the Vette isn’t fun to drive. Thankfully that’s not the case. It’s evident Chevy did its homework on driving dynamics. The car is superbly planted at all times and offers a very good feel of the road. The steering is tight and nicely weighted, allowing good communication with the front tires. On-center feel is also fantastic.

I did get annoyed several times with the forced skip-shift pattern built into the transmission

The Z51’s Magnetic Ride Control allows the driver to dial in the preferred suspension setting anywhere between comfort and track. Sure, it doesn’t soak up bumps like an Escalade, but the Vette isn’t terribly punishing over broken pavement when in the correct setting.

The shifter allows for quick shifts, though the H-pattern is rather tight. (I was often worried about missing a gear.) The clutch provides just the right feedback and is easy to operate, despite a longish throw. I did get annoyed several times with the forced skip-shift pattern built into the transmission. Try to drive slowly and smoothly from a stop and the shifter forces a 1 to 4 upshift. Because of this, I generally goosed the throttle before releasing the clutch, thereby canceling the “I’m-driving-conservatively” skip-shift pattern. It’s also an excuse to hear the exhaust.

Beyond that complaint, the Vette offers a fantastic experience – one I wish I could live with on the daily. Comfortable seats, a great infotainment system, and awesome power become addicting.

Price

2016 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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If a Corvette Stingray is all you want, the base coupe equipped with the manual transmission starts at $56,395. Want the drop-top? Its base price is $60,395. My tester came equipped with several high-end options that pushed its price higher, including the top 3LT trim package, the Z51 Performance Package, Magnetic ride control, the carbon fiber interior package, red brake calipers, red stitching on the leather, and black-colored wheels.

With a $995 destination charge tacked on, the price for my tester came to $79,415.

Competition

Jaguar F-Type Convertible

2016 Jaguar F-Type AWD Convertible High Resolution Exterior
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The F-Type has been extremely successful for Jaguar, offering two engine options, two transmission choices, and of course, a coupe or convertible platform. The convertible gets the widest selection of options to choose from, including a manual transmission with the supercharged 3.0-liter V-6. Of course, those looking for horsepower can choose the supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 that makes 550 horses and 502 pound-feet of torque.

Stunning looks and excellent driving dynamics should put the F-Type on the short list for anyone looking for a performance two-seater.

Read more about the Jaguar F-Type Convertible here.

Dodge Viper

2015 Dodge Viper SRT High Resolution Exterior
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If it’s a bad attitude and American muscle you’re after, the Viper is the proper choice. With a snarling V-10 engine that kicks out 645 horsepower, the all-American Dodge is hard competitor for the Vette – though it better competes with the Corvette Z06.

Sadly, the Viper is no longer offered in convertible form. The roof doesn’t even offer a removable panel. Still, the car’s performance outweighs the drawbacks for those seeking that level of ridiculousness. Buyers will be paying more as well, with prices starting at $87,095 for the base car. That’s Z06 money. With the range-topping GTS Coupe, Dodge requires $110,095.

Read more about Dodge Viper here.

Conclusion

2016 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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After a weeklong test, it’s easy to see why the Corvette is America’s sport car. Its purebred Kentucky and Detroit roots show through and the latest generation fixes all the problems that plagued previous iterations. The convertible version of the Stingray offers all the open-air fun without the sacrifices in driving dynamics found on older ragtops. Its stiff chassis, strong engine, competent transmission, and high-performance tires and brakes offer a solid all-round package.

All told, the seventh generation of the Corvette is a world-class car. No longer do people have to include the caveat of price when comparing its performance to other high-end vehicles. The Vette simply holds its own.

  • Leave it
    • * Starts getting expensive
    • * Clutch has slightly long throw
    • * Transmission’s forced skip shifts for fuel savings
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