TEST: Corvette Stingray Convertible – Ugly (l) pleasure – Test drives

Premium It’s been a year since the eighth generation Corvette was released in its home country of the United States. Now the European version is ready and we are invited to drive it in the area of ​​Frankfurt. This time they have made a radical change to the classic sports car – center engine! Super exciting. But there is something that obscures what should be a pure party – is it allowed to enjoy a play like this in 2021?

It’s a proud Corvette team who meet at the airport in Frankfurt. With the new C8 Stingray, they have finally done as both the competitors and in fact also as they themselves showed in concept cars already in the 70’s, first with wankel engine and then with V8 in “Aerovette”: They have mounted the engine behind instead of in front of the driver.

The mid-engine concept has some clear advantages in a sports car. With the weight gathered between the wheel axles, the moment of inertia decreases, ie the resistance to rotate around its own axle, which in turn helps to make the car more quickly steered. More weight on the rear axle increases the drive grip and means more to the C8’s improved acceleration than the increased engine power.

The new weight distribution (40/60 front / rear) also provides better braking ability as the rear wheels can contribute more after the weight shift that always occurs during braking. Consequently, the C8 has larger rear discs and smaller front discs than the C7.

The flattened steering wheel creates a good view of both the 12-inch screen and the road. Thin ventilation exhausts enable a very low instrument panel. The gear selector is not the most flexible in the car world, but the driving program knob next to it feels solid. Nice material feeling.

This is not mentioned in the review, but it’s still wonderfully technical. We have found a couple of nice roads for us in the hilly forest area Spessart which stretches from the state of Hesse and into Bavaria. Am I crazy about driving? Yes!

Before I sit down, in an unusually prominent seating position for the Corvette, in “my” Corvette Convertible, I ask a colleague to wrap his copy again. He has just done it spontaneously to listen for himself.

Why not take the opportunity to try to catch a bit of blur from a V8 to Instagram, with typical, American two-tier crank via the tailpipes far out in the corners of the stern. Immature? No, it’s called car enthusiasm.

I stick out my mobile phone even though I have never really experienced a car coming close to its maximum when idling, compared to when it is loaded on the road. My eardrums are happy that he saves a lot on the lap scale here between the airport’s concrete walls.

Of the coupé and Convertible variants, I choose for several reasons the latter. On the one hand, the C8 is initially designed around the open car with a very strong central tunnel section, which means that no further stiffeners are needed compared to the Coupé. No mastodon thresholds to step over for example. This is the first time you have replaced the fabric hood with a quieter and more protective hardtop. Still, the Convertible is only 34 kg heavier than the Coupé with the same equipment.

But at the same time as I am now finally going to press the start button, the question that has gnawed at me on the way down is formulated: How relevant is this car really in 2021? Can it even be here?

Behind me starts a newly developed V8 called LT2, which admittedly has a particle filter in the European version, but which is otherwise a freely singing suction motor with push rods without help from either turbo, compressor or electric support. Not even a 48-volt mild hybrid system exists. It’s amazing! Or?

The design is inspired by a jet plane and all opening handles are hidden.

In the somewhat confusing driving program selection includes six basics of which I start in the comfortable “Tour”.

The new Corvette is a surprisingly comfortable GT car when you want it. Thanks to the push rod technology that gives a lower engine than with overhead camshafts, the Corvette has already been able to have a low bonnet and good visibility.

Now, with no engine at all up there, the visibility between the marked front fenders has been made even better. Which you did not want to ruin with an obscure steering wheel which is therefore flat also at the top.

I sit built-in but comfortable in the mid-sport GT2 seats of three options and pick a little lazy with the paddles in the mandatory, eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox – automatic modes are available, of course, but now we drive a sports car.

In terms of comfort, the suspension impresses the most and it is the fourth version of – the optional – Magnetic Ride Control that should take the credit. As it swallows! A lifting system to raise the front trailer five centimeters in front of garage entrances and the like is another option that will make life easier with the Corvette.

This is how I get on the autobahn, the last outpost of free speed and which for almost a hundred years forced German car manufacturers (and others who want to assert themselves) to review aerodynamics, chassis and drivelines in a completely different way than if a maximum of 120-130 km / h also applies here.

Already in Tour mode, the engine roars right behind my ears when it is loaded a little more, but now I switch to Sport and wait for the liberating road signs. Switches down and – yes – the V8 gets to sing out more clearly now.

The traffic means that it is not full iron that applies yet, but it suits me well to feel the car around 180-200 km / h for a while. A black Golf keeps the same pace and as a Swede you can easily be mistaken and think that it is a guy in a cap who on full throttle wants to look into the new “Vetten” in the rearview mirror.

But judging by the calm and uninterested facial expression a moment later, only a young woman is routinely on her way to work or school. The Germans have a good “basic speed” in the body when they drive a car …

The sound level is really good with sports car dimensions, but now it opens up in the left lane and I let the needle kiss the red marking gear after gear. From 250, something starts to whistle between the window and the hardtop on the driver’s side, but the Corvette has obviously tested properly, the car is actually rock stable up to 270 km / h! This is the speed I have time to read before the next speed limit comes.

The convertible was also valid at the debut -53. As before, you can lift off the roof section also on the coupe model – a targa!

Remember that it is still allowed – and that it is still possible to drive this fast in Germany. But some flow is usually difficult to get over 200 km / h, it goes up and down in speed, gas and brake, an energy disaster really. But with the recovery of the braking energy, it will be a little different. A Porsche Taycan Turbo makes 260 km / h …

But to drive at 270 km / h in a petrol car towards Bavaria and in fact towards Munich where 25,000 people demonstrated in a bicycle march at the IAA Mobility car show last month. Fifteen people managed to block the autobahn. Despite the unusually environmentally focused trade fair, the activists said that the car industry is engaged in green painting and postponing the stop of fossil fuels.

Jojo, another way of looking at it is that the car industry makes and has made significantly greater changes in a short time than other carbon dioxide-intensive industries. But still: Is it possible to sit just as usual in your new Corvette and enjoy?

Anyone who perhaps barely flies, rarely replaces the entire wardrobe and eats reasonably with meat should get it, right? That’s the last line that counts, isn’t it? But it is unfortunately not visible where you sit in your open sports car.

LT2 is a new engine based on LT1 but has a completely new block. Thanks to the dry sump system with three oil pumps, the V8 must handle 1 G in all directions and it has been possible to place it 2.5 centimeters closer to the ground.

The bumps in the floor are due to the new particle filters needed on the European version – despite the “Small Series Type Approval” (max. 1,000 per year).

That’s right, it’s a convertible. It is very really easy to forget as I have not noticed any side effects at all below 200 km / h.

In the US, it turns out that the new Convertible has increased to make up every other car compared to the previous 30 percent for the C7. I turn off the A3 at the town of Sailauf and press the roof control in the door.

You can namely cab down (or up) as long as the speed is not higher than 50 km / h and the operation clearly takes a reasonable 17 seconds. It is possible to fold down the small rear window separately, but with it and the side windows up, you sit fairly draft-free and enjoy just enough fresh air.

If you want to sharpen the aggressiveness from Sport, the Z mode has its own button on the steering wheel. A double tap would proceed to Track mode. A magnificent winding road through Spessartwiesen’s foliage allows me to enjoy the new center motor car, which steers willingly into the bends and the feeling is enhanced by having your hips closer to the center of gravity now.

The European cars have the Z51 Performance Package as standard, which among other things means stiffer springs – which are also height-adjustable 20 millimeters all around. The power steering and road feel are good, although not incredible, but the square steering wheel, which lacks a really nice basic grip, gets even worse in sharp turns. The automatic transmission of the gearbox works well when I try for a while, but more fun on this road is of course to paddle yourself.

Should synthetic gasoline extend life?

In a small town stand three boys at the age of eight to ten on the sidewalk and makes big eyes and waves happily. But it is doubtful whether they themselves can buy a new car like this from the dealer when they have obtained a driving license around the year 2030.

Or will synthetic gasoline made from renewable sources extend the life of cars like the Corvette they now hear sounding uphill? Should Porsche’s investment in Chile and BMW’s commitment in the US on these so-called e-fuels go the way, believe me? When you let all the 482 horsepower sing out at 6,450 rpm, you hope so.

Not to mention what they do that ordered the upcoming Z06 which like the race car C8.R gets a single-level crank and therefore will howl like a Ferrari at completely different speeds.

The C8 impresses on the road and it was certainly right to switch to mid-engine. As for example in an Audi R8. But was not this done too late? Take the competitor Audi, they declared in September that from 2026 they will only release completely electric new models. There is undeniably a certain difference between the choice of cylinder shut-off versus electric motors …

The color Amplify Orange is not so stupid for those who want to stand out. Red should perhaps be avoided if you do not want to get the lines compared to those of a mid-engine car like the Ferrari F8 Tributo.

Porsche has both 911 and Taycan and are comparatively fully guarded. At Corvette, communications manager René Kreis knows that it is predominantly men among the customers and unsurprisingly those who are looking for a V8 and a sports car that stand out.

He believes that the new and slightly sportier mid-engine car will attract slightly more younger buyers than its predecessors did. I’m asking a bit provocatively if not only 911 but also Taycan is a competitor? He has a hard time believing that anyone chooses between a Corvette and a Porsche Taycan.

“Those who are ready to go the electric route, and the development points in that direction, do so while the Corvette is for those who say you have to own a V8 once in a lifetime and now is definitely the time to do so.”

Should the V8 be replaced by an electric motor later on, a dimension of the car disappears and design and a sense of quality suddenly become even more important than today. Then it’s fun to note that materials and buttons certainly do not hold Porsche class, but also never been as close before as in this car.

On Instagram I read in the comments field that someone, who thinks the car is cool, at the same time wonders if “it can be obtained without foul-smelling exhaust fumes and that annoying sound?” Then the debate begins.

It should be a sports car today, my test car would have liked to have been able to read and express itself. But nothing stands still.

The American motoring magazine Motortrend has speculated in the Corvette C8 as an electric hybrid in the future and elsewhere, in future studies, the Corvette is also available as an electric car – solid SUV! I wonder what the soon to be 50-year-old Club Corvette Sweden would say if a Corvette electric SUV became a reality?

Maybe it’s time to hit a Corvette C8 while recognizing it to some extent. It has never been better than this.

Source: Senaste nytt från auto motor & sport by www.mestmotor.se.

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