2020 Corvette Stingray Convertible Reveal — Mid-Engine C8 Corvette Convertible!


MARK TAKAHASI: Mom,
apple pie, baseball. These are things
we traditionally think of as American, right? Personally, I think
of our accomplishments to describe the uniquely
American experience. We’re here at the
Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where 50 years ago,
three brave astronauts strapped into a Saturn 5 rocket,
blasted off to the moon, forever changing
humanity’s story arc. 16 years before that, though,
America’s sports car was born. And it’s closely tied
to the space program. We’re here to check out the
latest version of that sports car in the 2020 Chevrolet
Corvette convertible. [MUSIC PLAYING] In 1953, Chevrolet
introduced the Corvette, a small convertible
sports car, to compete against those little
roasters GIs were falling in love with overseas. America’s first
astronaut, Alan Shepard, had a ’57 ‘vette
just like my mom’s. A decade later, the
edgier, second generation was introduced, along with
the iconic Stingray name. And this one, in particular,
used to be Neil Armstrong’s. Come on, how cool is that? We just happen to have a
’66 this same color rotating above the Edmunds
reception desks too. The third generation,
C3m three showed up just as the Apollo program
hit its stride in 1968. There’s a famous
photo of the Apollo 12 astronauts posing with their
custom gold 427 Stingrays. Starting in 1984, the C4 ensured
the 80s and 90s were rad. The C5 ‘vette ran
from ’97 to 2004, and we had a wonderful Z06
from 2002, our long-term fleet. The true 21st century Corvette
started with the C6 and C7s, which dramatically increased
the technology and performance quotient. That brings us to the
all-new 8th generation, which represents the biggest
change in the Corvette’s history. We showed you the Stingray
coupe over the summer, and for the most
part, this convertible is mechanically identical. Under this deck lid is the same
6.2 liter, naturally aspirated, push rod V8 that puts out 495
horsepower and 470-pound feet of torque. Attached to that is an
8-speed automated dual clutch transmission. Sadly, it doesn’t
sound like we’re going to get a manual
this time around. There are some design challenges
that go along with a mid engine sports car like this. And if you look at
something like, let’s say, the Lamborghini
Diablo Spyder, where the deck looks really huge and
heavy and the seating position is way too far forward. That is not the case with
a Corvette convertible. They styled it impeccably, so
it looks almost like the coupe. These nacelles here that
run from the headrest all the way to the tail really
break up some of that space. And these intersecting
lines and decreases lighten that visual weight. Also helping to break up
some of that visual weight is this black fascia
down here, which kind of helps it not look as heavy and
chunky as it normally would. One thing that I
was really concerned with the design of
this new C8 Corvette was this really,
really big center thing with all the buttons on it. They’re all climate controls,
so it sort of makes sense, but I have to say this. In photos, it looks
really awkward. In practice, sitting here,
it’s actually pretty good. I mean, you have
everything at your command. Maybe they could have slimmed
it down with fewer buttons, but I’m sorry. It kind of works. You also have this nice
little hand rest here for the dial controller. And this squared off
steering wheel actually feels pretty good. I have to say, it might be
fulfilling some like Formula 1 driver aspirations. Overall, the interior
has a nice snug feel without
feeling too cramped. There are obviously
a lot of challenges when it comes to converting
the coupe to a convertible, so I’m here with Ed
Piatek, chief engineer for the Corvette. Ed, what kind of
challenges did you run into with this
mid engine Corvette? ED PIATEK: Well,
typically you have a lot of challenges from
a structure standpoint if you’re removing the
roof from a coupe that uses the roof as a load path. But in the case of all
the Corvettes going back to the 6th generation car,
they’ve all effectively been convertibles. They all have
removable roof panels. So we can’t count on the roof. So when we do a
car like this, we use a tunnel-dominant structure. If you took a look at
the underbody of the car you’ll see we’ve got a
really big tunnel section. And that gives it
sort of the backbone that gives you great bending
and torsional stiffness. So for us to do a convertible,
it’s not as big a challenge, as far as having to remediate
that and put band-aids on the car to get
the structure back. MARK TAKAHASI: So that’s
all really impressive, but something I heard earlier
is even more impressive. How much more does
this convertible weigh than the coupe? ED PIATEK: We’re still in
the final validation phase, so I don’t have an exact number. But it’s going to be less
than 100 pounds difference from coupe to
convertible, which is why we think the acceleration
performance that everyone’s excited about for the
coupe will carry right over into the convertible. MARK TAKAHASI: That’s
amazing considering that a lot of convertibles
weigh several pounds more than their coupe counterparts. Thanks a lot, Ed. ED PIATEK: Hey, thank you. MARK TAKAHASI: It’s
been a pleasure. I can’t wait to drive it. ED PIATEK: It’s great. I’m here with Kirk Bennion,
chief designer of the Corvette. What were your main
challenges with the C8? KIRK BENNION: Well,
I would tell you in developing this
convertible top, the mechanization was something
that we started on very early. There were certain
things that we wanted to maintain in the design. We want to maintain the
shoulders and the quarters. But also we wanted to
maintain some surfacing that led up to those nacelles. So we started with a
small patch of surface, and we continued to develop
that fiber link system to give us his tapered upper. But to work around
that early surface– we didn’t even know
what the car was going to look like
as a whole, but we knew we wanted these particular
elements in the design. MARK TAKAHASI: But a lot of
the challenges for mid engine is the back end
looks really heavy, and the passenger
compartment looks like it’s squished too far forward. How did you solve that? KIRK BENNION: A lot of that
depends on just where you place that windshield. And, you know, kind of like
with the windshield assembly, and your wiper assembly,
call panel and that, we like that to be
over center of axle– center of the front wheel. We feel it– for this car that
gives us the best proportion. It’s that right
amount to reach, where it doesn’t look
like it’s crammed, with it’s reaching forward. And then it gives
us just enough room in the back to kind of stretch
things out and still get that for– you know, what we
call a cockpit forward accent. But in doing so, that allows us
to lean out the car, basically. MARK TAKAHASI: Well,
it’s a pleasure to see it in the flesh. Thanks for taking the time. KIRK BENNION: Thank you. MARK TAKAHASI: If you ask
me, the Corvette convertible is just as sharp as the coupe. And it’s also as relatively
affordable costing, $7,500 more. Expect a starting
price of around $67,000 when it goes on sale
in March of 2020. I’m not completely convinced
it’s worth shelling out the extra money for
the convertible, since the coupe already
has a removable roof. Whether you choose the
coupe or the convertible you’re pretty much
guaranteed you’re going to be driving the new
hotness for at least a couple months. That’s it from the
Corvette convertible unveil at the Kennedy Space
Center in Florida. If you thought we’d come here
and not check out the astronaut experience, you’re wrong. For sticking around this
long, here’s a bonus. Some snippets from
astronaut camp. Woohoo! Come on, Doug. Let’s go steal a rocket. [MUSIC PLAYING] That’s where I belong.