Since its introduction in the mid-1960s, the Targa top has served as a way to offer open-top motoring without losing structural rigidity or gaining unwanted weight, as most convertibles often do. Flash forward nearly 60 years, and these old drawbacks aren't necessarily the norm anymore. Enter the 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible with its mid-engine layout, composite materials, and clever engineering, which embodies just that, a genuinely open-air driving experience from a good performance car that offers little drawback.
The tester I've been driving is a range-topping 3LT, starting at $79,945, including a $1,095 destination fee. While the famed $5,995 Z51 Performance Package is missing, a week on the road didn't leave me wishing for it. In fact, after several hundred miles behind the wheel, the drop-top Stingray has convinced me it's the one to buy.
A Secret Convertible
Walk by a 2021 Chevrolet Convertible, and chances are you won't notice its roof folds at all. That's because instead of sticking with the soft top it used in the last-gen, Chevy opted to give the Stingray a metal roof. Visually, this ties in the coupe and convertible together, revealing subtle differences at first glance. Step closer, and you'll notice that the actual differences are pretty significant.
For starters, instead of having a sloping roofline characterized by a big solid piece of glass, you've now got a small rear-facing window flanked by two prominent structural components. While the convertible loses the glass panel that allows onlookers to take a peek at the engine, these stylistic changes change the car's aesthetics for the better, giving it a more exotic look.
I wasn't a big fan of the C8's design initially, or even when my tester first showed up a few months back. My biggest initial complaint was that it looked a bit too angular in the front but simultaneously boxy in the rear without delivering the proper wide stance associated with mid-engined sports cars. However, after my week with it, my opinion changed quite drastically. I found myself appreciating just how much the C8 stands out, even in a city like Miami and its supercar surplus. While it'll still split opinions for years to come, the C8 Corvette undoubtedly looks special.
Still A True Sports Car
On the road, the 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible is pure magic. Losing the roof doesn't result in botched handling dynamics or significant performance losses. Chevy claims that the C8's chassis is so stiff that turning it into a convertible didn't require additional strengthening. While the addition of the metal folding roof adds around 80 lb, practically unnoticeable in the real world.
Let's not forget, the Corvette still has a naturally-aspirated 6.2-liter V8 delivering 490 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque. While that may not sound like a lot in today's horsepower hungry world, that's still good enough to rocket the drop-top C8 to 60 mph in just 3.0 seconds. Add that aforementioned Z51 Performance Package, and that time drops to 2.9 seconds, meaning even with the added weight, it's still one of the quickest cars on the road.
Thanks to an excellent eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, the C8 can capitalize on every ounce of power it has to offer, meaning it's lightning quick, regardless of the situation. Additionally, the transmission is silky smooth around town, staying relatively undetectable in most conditions, making the Stingray a great daily driver.
The use of magnetic ride control and four-wheel independent suspension means that the Corvette is genuinely comfortable, not just for a mid-engined sports car. The C8 soaks up bumps impressively in its softest, remaining smooth, even through crowded and poorly maintained city streets. In its sportiest mode, everything tightens up considerably, delivering excellent grip, high-speed stability, and an enjoyable driving experience.
The Convertible C8's handling dynamics can be attributed to its unique suspension setup, implemented to cope with its added heft. This addition works well in practice, allowing the drop-top to drive just as well as its Targa top sibling.
A Striking Interior To Match
The 2021 Chevrolet Corvette's over-the-top nature continues in the interior, where a large row of buttons seemingly divides the driver and passenger. At first, finding the right button felt like looking for a needle in a needle stack. However, after spending some time behind the wheel, I learned the position of the switches, and the ergonomics became less of a problem.
Perhaps even more striking is the squared-off steering wheel. While I completely understand that it has to be that shape to get a clear view of the digital dash in front of you, it still looks a bit unusual. However, from an ergonomics perspective, I found no issues with it, meaning even tight maneuvers were relatively easy to execute.
Tech-wise, the C8 offers up many goodies from a user-friendly infotainment system, Apple CarPlay connectivity, endless cameras, active safety systems, and even a heads-up display. The addition of so much tech only adds to the daily drivability of the Corvette.
While the aforementioned adaptive suspension system helps comfort, my tester's carbon-backed GT2 seats didn't hold it back either. Despite being the most performance-oriented option available, these chairs offered great support and ample room, making long drives a breeze.
Is the 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible worth its price?
While the 2021 Chevrolet Corvette in standard form is an absolute performance bargain, starting at $60,995, including destination fees, its convertible sibling comes at a premium. In base form, the convertible starts at $68,495, marking a $7,500 increase for that folding metal roof. Add on my testers, 3LT trim, and we end up a hair under $80,000.
After spending some time with it, I'd shell out the extra cash for the convertible. The C8 still offers fantastic value, delivering a driving experience comparable with vehicles that cost twice as much. With impressive handling characteristics, ample tech, and impressive but approachable performance, the C8 remains one of the best sports cars on the market.