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2016 Corvette Stingray Convertible

Chevrolet-Corvette_C7_Stingray_Convertible_2014_1024x768_wallpaper_05

Base Price: $60,395
Price as Tested: $65,940

Although I always understood the allure of the Chevrolet Corvette as a midlife-crisis pacifier, it was never among my aspirational cars. I have driven pretty much every model of every generation since the C4 in 1985. That doesn’t include two or three pre-C4 cars. I was not overly impressed, certainly not on any sort of consistent basis. There were a couple of ZR-1s and Z06s along the way that made me grin and at least turned some heads, but these weren’t cars I’d buy anyway.

Until the C6 arrived in 2005, Corvettes were noisy, uncomfortable and almost unbearably rough around the edges. I guess there’s some charm in that, but not to me. Climbing in and out of coupe versions required the flexibility of a side-show contortionist.

Nope, I was never a “Vette guy.” Then Chevy went and launched the C7 for 2014, making a believer out of me. Sure, getting in2016 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible and out still requires a bit of effort, but I’m 30 years older than I was in 1985. With the C7, Chevy addressed each and every complaint I ever had about the Corvette without losing one iota of its over-achieving performance. Quiet, smooth and comfortable, this latest-generation Vette accelerates like a bottle rocket and corners like a go-cart. Corvette’s horsepower-per-dollar value is about as good as it gets among performance models. And hey, it is stunningly good looking.

Recently I returned from a Volkswagen event in Vermont to find a Torch Red 2016 Corvette Convertible meeting me at the Atlanta airport. I hadn’t been behind the wheel of one since Chevy invited me to drive a 2014 version in the Palm Springs, Calif. area in November of 2013. I felt like I had won the lottery!

Despite the evening’s 60-degree temperature and me sans a jacket of any kind, I dropped the top and the hammer for the 160-mile sprint home. “Dropping the hammer” may be a slight exaggeration, I caught the tail end of Atlanta’s evening rush-hour traffic that normally extends from about 3:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. or so. But I didn’t care; I was sailing along in a Corvette Convertible for the love of Pete! When traffic did thin out about 40 miles outside of the city, I cranked up the heater and opened it up.

Chevrolet-Corvette_C7_Stingray_Convertible_2014_1024x768_wallpaper_17In addition to convertible and coupe, Corvette is configured into several trim levels. My test car was the 2LT. The entry-level 1LT is loaded with such goodies as dual-zone automatic climate control, Brembo brakes, leather seating, heated outboard mirrors, power tilt-telescoping flat-bottomed steering wheel, power-assisted trunk close, Bluetooth connectivity, eight-inch color touchscreen with MyLink interface, 4GLTE WiFi hotspot, rearview camera and Bose-infused nine-speaker audio system with two USB ports and satellite radio capability.

Moving up to the 2LT adds features like auto-dimming rearview mirrors, heated-ventilated seats, front-view parking cameras, power-adjusting side bolsters, head-up display and an upgraded 10-speaker Bose audio system.

A 6.2-liter 455-horsepower V8 provides the thrust. Although a driver-shiftable eight-speed automatic transmission is available, my test Vette had the standard seven-speed manual. Clutch and gearbox worked smoothly. Fuel economy will surprise anyone who has never been in a Corvette or hasn’t been in one in the past few years. It’s impressive for a V8-packed car capable of accelerating from zero to 60 in about four seconds. There is very little mileage difference between the manual and automatic trannys. The government estimates 17 mpg city, 29 highway and 21 combined with the manual; with the automatic nearly matching it at 16 city, 29 highway and 20 combined.

Perhaps the most welcome improvements are found in the cockpit. Here not only are the materials decidedly better, but so is the2016 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible workmanship. The uber-supportive seats are comfortable, offering eight-way power adjustments. Soft-touch materials and stitched leather cover most surfaces. A two-pod layout, the instrument panel and center stack wrap around the driver, putting every control at his fingertips.

Retracting or deploying in about 30 seconds, the power top operates with the touch of one button at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. When raised, it does a good job of holding outside racket to a minimum.

My first day home with this Vette I had a photography gig about 20 miles away from my house that required my driving some twisty country roads. Sun on my face, wind in my…well, wind on my head, I flogged the Vette through the turns. What a rush!

If I won the lottery Powerball today, tomorrow I’d be separating my local Chevy dealer from one of these droptops. As I said, this Vette made a believer out of me.