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Chev Corvette opens up

New folding hardtop Chev Corvette convertible confirmed for right-hand drive

3 Oct 2019

CHEVROLET has dropped the top on its all-new mid-engine Corvette Stingray, unveiling a convertible with a two-piece folding hardtop that can be stowed in just 16 seconds at up to 50km/h.


The even better news is that General Motors confirmed at the car’s unveiling at NASA’s Kennedy Space Station in Florida that a right-hand-drive version of the flip-lid muscle car is a lock for production, meaning it will join the regular Corvette coupe on the boat to Australia to join Holden’s line-up at some point.


The folding hardtop is raised and lowered by six electric motors – a first for the Corvette that previously had a hydraulic system for its soft-top – and stowed above the mid-mounted 6.2-litre V8 where it is protected by a heat shield.


Unfortunately, that means the see-through glass engine cover of the coupe had to go, but it is a small price to pay for open-air motoring with a thumping V8 soundtrack.


GM was at pains to say the convertible version of the C8 Corvette was planned from the start – not some afterthought – meaning the necessary rigidity was built into the basic structure via items such as a “transmission” tunnel, even though there is no driveshaft from the front.


The drop-top design adds just 35kg to the kerb weight of the Corvette, while it is 10 per cent stiffer than the previous-generation convertible.


Special springs and dampers were engineered for the convertible to ensure “nearly the same performance as the coupe”.


The boot space is untouched by the roof stowage and still accommodates two golf bags. A small front space under the bonnet also takes an airline bag, for example.


An electric-operated window slides up and down vertically behind the driver and front-seat passenger. This window can be raised or lowered when the roof is up or down.


Customers will get a choice of body colour or faux carbon-fibre (Carbon Flash) for the roof and the twin aerodynamic nacelles behind the cabin.


Although pricing for Australia is still a long way away, the convertible in America will add about 12.5 per cent to the price tag of the coupe, pushing it up by $US7500 ($A11,116) from $US59,995 ($A89,326) to $US67,495.


Of course, the price will be much higher in Australia, but the 12.5 per cent differential might be similar.


The Corvette convertible retains the same powertrain as the Stingray coupe, namely the 6.2-litre naturally aspirated LT2 V8 that produces 369kW of power at 6450rpm and 637Nm of torque at 5150rpm (with the optional performance exhaust system equipped), hooked up to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission driving the rear wheels.


No performance figures for the convertible were released, but expect it to be a tick slower than the coupe that should skittle the 0-100km/h dash in under three seconds.


Chevrolet says the hardtop provides a quieter cabin, increased security and a cleaner look compared to the previous soft-top designs.


Corvette program engineering manager Josh Holder said the goal from the beginning was to make sure customers didn’t have to sacrifice any functionality, performance or comfort when choosing the hardtop convertible.


“We managed to keep the same design theme as the coupe as well as the exceptional storage capacity and track capability,” he said.


The convertible is scheduled to go into production at GM’s legendary Bowling Green plant in Kentucky around March next year – about four months after the coupe.


GM did not specify a target date for production the right-hand drive version.

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