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The Daily Drivers: 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible with Z51 package

2016 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible with Z51 package
2016 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible with Z51 package
Published Oct. 15, 2015

We've driven the Corvette Stingray — convertible and coupe — on a few occasions since its 2014 redesign, and found it greatly improved compared with the previous-generation Vette. Still, we always thought we weren't getting its true essence because those cars had automatic transmissions. Now we know what we've been missing.

Appearance: Someone — no, not Prince — once said that all Corvettes are red in spirit. Well, for once, our tester actually was red. Torch Red. Even though we prefer the profile of the coupe, the convertible is not without its allure — even with the top down — thanks to its bold, angular body contours. Our tester's Z51 Performance Package also came with painted aluminum wheels that complement against the Torch Red paint. The power convertible cloth top retracts smoothly and tucks away cleanly; even its rear window has a defogger. (The top can even be put down remotely with a push of a fob button.)

Performance: The previous Vettes we've driven had either a mediocre 6-speed or the current — and much-improved — 8-speed gearbox. Our tester came with the 7-speed manual and it did not disappoint. It made a huge difference in driver engagement. Even better, our car had Active Rev Matching, which, when selected, automatically rev-matches on downshifts, making for more efficient transitions between gears. The sound is also pretty cool. (To be fair, Peter found you could downshift just fine without the feature.) Still, the excellent gearbox would be moot if not mated to a panoply of other performance components that start with the civilized-around-town 6.2-liter V-8 that puts out 455 horsepower and has 460 pound-foot of torque. The car's electronic limited-slip differential and the optional Z51 performance suspension keep the ride controlled but not uncomfortable. Even the convertible's ride felt taut, thanks to stabilizer bars. With all this power, the brakes better not be lacking, and the Corvette doesn't stint: We both were impressed with their strong, confident stopping power. The topper, though, is the V-8 music played by the four center-mounted quad tail pipes.

Interior: For 2016, changes are minor and welcome. Some of them: a flat-bottom three-spoke steering wheel, a soft-closing trunk and standard Apple CarPlay smartphone integration. Our tester included the carbon-fiber trim package ($995) and custom red-stitching on the GT Nappa leather bucket seats. While interiors have long been a Vette weak point, there's not much to complain about now in the car's combination of style and tech save for some of the switch gear. We like how the 8-inch color touchscreen can be lowered with the push of a button to reveal a handy storage compartment with USB port. The MyLink system includes an available Performance Data Recorder with built-in track camera. The driver's head-up display is easy to read and includes speed, RPM and G-force readouts. A dial on the center console lets you choose from five different drive modes (Weather, Eco, Tour, Sport and Track) that adjust settings such as steering, throttle, shift points and stability-control calibrations.

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

Exhaust: I'm one of those people who loves listening to a V-8 exhaust note.

Parking: Front-view cameras help when pulling a low car up to a parking block or curb.

Transmission: The clutch is just right and the shifter's throws are short.

Lyra Solochek

Easy downshifts: Electronic rev-matching blips the throttle for you. Sounds cool, too.

Topless on the go: Push the button on the fob to remotely retract the top before you get in.

Trunk space: There's actually space for a couple of small bags in the back.

The bottom line: The Vette — especially with the Z51 package — truly comes alive with a manual gearbox. Even fully loaded, it's still a performance bargain that's comfortable enough to be your daily driver.

Our 3 favorites

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Lyra Solochek

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