2020 Chevy Corvette Stingray Convertible gets hardtop looks

The mid-engine Corvette's new hardtop convertible variant offers few trade-offs and looks darn good.

The 2020 Corvette convertible's hardtop takes just 16 seconds to go down.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray brings some very noteworthy firsts to the sports car party. It's the first 'Vette to use a mid-engine layout, the first one to use a dual-clutch transmission and now, with the debut of the 2020 Corvette Convertible on Wednesday, the first one to use a power-folding hardtop.

Up until now, soft tops were the only roofs for Corvette convertible models. But the C8's move to a hardtop does come with some good benefits, such as a quieter cabin when the roof is up, better security than a ragtop (no cut-and-grab here) and cleaner styling. A body-colored roof comes standard on all cars, though Chevy is letting customers spec a Carbon Flash-painted top for a two-tone appearance.

The composite hardtop, which can be operated at speeds of up to 30 mph, takes 16 seconds to go down thanks to six electric motors. The electric top system is also new replacing the hydraulic unit found in previous Corvette convertibles for improved reliability, according to Chevrolet.

When stored, the top sits beneath a tonneau cover that features an engine cooling vent and aero-optimized nacelles, the latter supposedly inspired by fighter jet engine housings. While they're quite large, Chevy says the nacelles are designed to reduce air circulating into the cabin. Helping to further reduce cabin wind buffeting at speed is a power rear window that can be moved up and down with the top up or down.

As for the tradeoffs that typically come with convertibles, engineers made every effort to keep them at a minimum. From a functional standpoint, the trunk can still hold two sets of golf clubs with the top down, and the "frunk" is still capable of holding a TSA-approved carry-on as well as a laptop bag.

When it comes to performance, the Corvette's chassis was designed from the beginning to account for the convertible body style, so structural rigidity concerns are nonissues. The Corvette convertible features the same coefficient of drag as the coupe, according to Chevrolet -- with the top up and the Z51 package's spoiler affixed, anyway. There are, however, some changes to the suspension's springs and dampers to cope with the roughly 80 pounds of extra weight the convertible carries over the coupe.

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Like with the coupe, a 6.2-liter LT2 V8 engine powers the Corvette convertible. The naturally aspirated powerplant makes 495 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque when an optional performance exhaust system is installed. Without the exhaust, output numbers drop to 490 hp and 465 lb-ft. Then engine works with the aforementioned Tremec eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, which is the only gearbox that'll be offered on the C8 Corvette. Sorry, manual fans.

Heading inside, the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 Plus system with an 8-inch touchscreen comes standard to control features including a 10-speaker Bose sound setup, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and Bluetooth connectivity. Audiophiles will also be able to equip a punchier, 14-speaker Bose Performance Series audio system.

The 2020 Corvette convertible will go into production early next year.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible will head into production early next year and will be offered in 1LT, 2LT and 3LT trims. For select international markets, right-hand-drive versions of the convertible will arrive a bit later. Here in the US, the base 1LT model will begin at $67,495, which is a $7,500 premium over the entry-level Corvette coupe's $59,995 starting price.