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The Daily Drivers: 2014 Corvette Stingray Convertible finds its edge

From the moment Chevy announced that the all-new 2014 Corvette would carry the Stingray name, the expectations were high. That's understandable given the sports car's history and passionate fan base. We were anxious, too. The previous generation Vette underwhelmed us with its place-holder design and dated interior. This new Vette — our tester was a convertible — more than makes up for those shortcomings.

Appearance: The faithful grumbled when they learned the C7 (Corvette, seventh generation) was losing its traditional round taillights. Deal with it, people. This new model leaves behind every curved (and bland) line of the previous generation. Yes, the lights are rhomboids, but that's because every surface is chiseled: from the carbon-fiber contoured hood to the sharply angled LED-laden headlights. It makes for an intimidating, Ferrari-like look. One quibble: This Corvette is vent-heavy, with black intakes and gills that are visually distracting, but at least all of them are functional. The rear centerpiece is a menacing suite of four exhaust tips. Our tester had a full-width deck-lid spoiler as part of the Z51 performance package that also includes 19-inch front and 20-inch rear painted aluminum wheels and an aero kit.

Performance: The aluminum body structure improves handling and gives the convertible a more solid feeling. Chevy has again worked its small-block magic to produce a 6.2-liter, 455-horsepower V-8 that idles at a low gurgle and roars to life when you punch the gas. The Z51 package adds a performance suspension, limited-slip differential and large slotted brake rotors for the sturdy Brembos. There is a drive-mode selector on the center console with five choices: Eco, Sport, Tour, Weather and Track. We kept it on Sport for its handling, livelier performance and more throaty exhaust note. Overall, this Vette feels more solid and composed than its predecessor, handling sharp corners and bumpy brick streets equally well. The electronic power steering is a good match for the car's nimble handling. We wish we could say the same about the car's 6-speed automatic, which even in manual mode while using the paddles seems a beat behind on shifts. The gearbox saps some of the life out of the performance. We'd like to try a manual coupe for comparison.

Interior: The quality and design are much improved, leaving behind the generic, dated look. The driver is now the focus of the cabin with the console angled toward him/her. Our tester was the 3LT trim, and its well-bolstered, if narrow, seats had nappa suede inserts in Kalahari and black. Elsewhere there were soft-touch leather-draped surfaces and detail stitching, with only a few cheap touches such as the push-start button and the plasticky paddle shifters. The infotainment system uses the latest version of Chevy's MyLink, which we like for its ease of use. The 8-inch touchscreen goes down into the dash to reveal a compartment with a USB connection. There also is a head-up display for the driver.

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

Passenger: You get your own climate controls on the right side of the dash.

Convertible: The three-ply top can be lowered at speeds of up to 30 mph in about 20 seconds.

Gauges: The center digital display is customizable.

Lyra Solochek

Paint: The striking Lime Rock Green Metallic ($495 extra) looks black at night.

Design: Edgy, chiseled, aerodynamic.

Interior: Finally, luxurious.

The bottom line: For the price, the performance is unbeatable. Factor in the nicer interior and it's even more desirable. All that in a sports car that can be a daily driver. An upgraded 8-speed automatic will be available for 2015.