This Corvette is an everyday drop-top driver that delivers exotic import performance at one-half to one-third the price. Dan Scanlan checks out the ’22 CORVETTE Z51: SUNSHINE SUPERCAR.
OK, so it’s a baby blue convertible. But do you want to see some numbers generated by our baby – ’22 CORVETTE Z51: SUNSHINE SUPERCAR? How about 495-horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque from this Rapid Blue Convertible’s naturally-aspirated 6.2-liter LT2 V-8 with a performance exhaust and rear-mounted 8-speed dual clutch automatic. Use Launch control and it’s 60 mph in 2.9 seconds, and 100 mph in 7.7; the G-Force meter saying we pulled 1.0 Gs! And its power top drops in 13 seconds at speeds up to 30 mph.
This eighth-gen Corvette is the first with a mid-mounted engine inside an aluminum and steel skeleton designed to handle roofless firepower. Our test convertible gets the Z51 option’s five-horsepower boost and brakes. At 3,467 pounds, it’s exactly 101 pounds heavier than the coupe. Use it as a suntan grocery getter in Tour Mode, which backs off throttle and shift response a bit, and it’s still fast. We got 60 mph in 3.6 seconds with a bit of wheelspin at launch, and 8.6 to 100. Get more aggressive in Sport Mode, my favorite, and our 5,500-mile-old convertible hit 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, and 100 mph in 7.8, a bit more wheelspin at launch.
Sport Mode also gave me a tauter suspension as that dual-clutch automatic held lower gears for longer and snappy throttle blips on downshifts. Track Mode offers very quick shifts, plus even sharper steering and throttle. My Mode lets you custom-tune suspension and exhaust sound; while Z–Mode customizes powertrain with a silver steering wheel button activating it. And its launch control offers Wet, Dry, Sport I, Sport II or Race rear rubber slip control Modes.
I saw up to an indicated 20 mpg, engine seamlessly shifting from V-8 to V-4 on highways to save gas. But as with the coupe we tested a few months earlier, the convertible offered some creaking above and behind from the roof going over driveway lips and potholes. As for that coupe, it hit 60 mph in 3.9 seconds in Tour; 3.7 in Sport, with 100 mph in just under 8; and Launch Control saw 60 mph in 2.9 seconds, and 100 mph in 7.9. The coupe pulled .97 Gs on launch.
Top down, the ’22 CORVETTE Z51: SUNSHINE SUPERCAR let us hear everything it did – the engine’s machinery right behind us; sharp exhaust cracks at each rapid dual-clutch up-shift at about 6,300 rpm; and that hint of tire spin on launch before the Z51 option’s electronic limited slip differential funneled power evenly to rear rubber. We experienced a brief sideways slip in the first-second shift, then it just went arrow straight – check the video to see what it did to my hair! And those who autocross or drag race will like the burnout mode to get stickier rubber for better launches.
Under the skin lives short/long arm double wishbone suspension with forged aluminum upper and cast aluminum L-shape lower control arms all-round, plus monotube shocks and Magnetic Ride Control, which responds to bumps in milliseconds. In Tour Mode, the ride was supple and taut, just fine. But while firmer in Sport with every bump felt, it offered quick buffering at compression and no harshness during sharp impacts – just fine for a spirited commute. And with a front suspension lift that hikes the air dam by 40 millimeters, driveways were easier to deal with.
The C8 Corvette’s 40/60 front-rear weight bias seemed able to let me pivot around my low bucket seat in curves. It was superbly agile at any speed, very responsive and neutral. The Corvette easily went where pointed with almost no body roll sensed inside. I could push into a curve and stay glued as it went. Or I could power the tail out, easy to hold with quick steering and throttle control. It’s so much fun, even better with the top down. With its backbone chassis and high-pressure diecast aluminum parts assembled with structural adhesive, we felt no cowl shake with top down. We pulled an indicated 1.06 Gs in steady-state skid pad cornering.
Steering was very responsive, no-nonsense precise in Sport and Track with no slop. The Z51 gave us larger 13.6-inch discs in front and 13.8-inchers in back with Brembo 4-piston monobloc calipers, offering precise control and very short and straight stops with no fade even after repeated high speed use. The pedal was a bit high, with good braking control and no apparent nose dive. And we pulled 1.1 Gs at full pedal.
Even though this American exotic has been around for a while, people still don’t know it’s a Corvette. Yet it has some familiar Corvette design elements like a pointed nose with gloss black center inlet flanked by twin radiators under winged honeycomb grilles. There’s a deep lower air dam, while slit headlights add to the Vette face feel. Flat-edged flares on edgy front fenders frame Michelin Pilot Sport P245/35ZR20-inch rubber on black 5-spoke alloy wheels, huge Z51 disc brakes visible in between with black Corvette calipers. In back, wider P305/30ZR20’s. There’s blade-like lower sills and flowing lines on flanks that slash under side intakes that begin at the doors’ leading edges, trimmed in metallic black, two more radiators inside this complex of curve and blade.
The ’22 CORVETTE Z51: SUNSHINE SUPERCAR silhouette matches the coupe’s until the B-pillar. While the coupe’s roof and rear glass over engine taper to the tail, the convertible’s rear deck gets almost Ferrari-like headrest fairings behind seat head restraints. There’s a flat deck over the engine with vents, then a trunk lid vs. coupe hatchback. As rear roof fairings flow inward, rear fender-tops seem to look wider on the low wedge shape. The convertible’s spoiler is trimmed down for better rearward vision. But you can’t see the convertible’s V-8 amidships, hidden by a cover where the top stacks, rubber flaps covering fluid access points.
The engine in the coupe, right, is much more visible. Drop that top and it’s easy to slide into a blue and tan leather-lined cockpit with power-adjustable GT2 seats in more leather and suede. They aren’t as aggressively bolstered as that coupe’s optional sport seats, but they were firm and comfortable with heat/cooling for both. The 2-tone dashboard wraps around the driver; the passenger left on the other side of the center console’s high ridge with 17 climate control buttons. Alloy and carbon fiber dash accents abound.
The squared-off steering wheel had a thick suede rim, long paddle shifters behind falling readily to fingertips to snap off shifts. The rear-view mirror shows a slim tunnel of what’s behind, framed by sweeping rear fairings and engine cover bump. You can flip on a sharp widescreen rear video camera display. But the camera drops with the top, leaving the mirror only, so rearward side vision for lane changes has some blind spots. The crisp 12-inch instrument cluster is configurable to drive modes, with round or strip 7,000-rpm tachometers, and digital or analog-like speedometers. A head-up display is configurable, some drive modes adding G-force info. The 10-inch-wide center touchscreen has navigation, traffic, forward/rear/nose camera displays, apps and a powerful 14-speaker Bose audio system easily heard top down. It’s got Wi-Fi, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
There’s no manual gearbox, just drive-by-wire transmission toggles for Reverse and Drive and buttons for Park, Neutral and Manual. Under a leather palm pad is a drive mode selector, with inductive charge slot for smartphones behind and between the seats. With swept-back windshield, high door tops and rear window/wind blocker, it was breezy but livable at suburban speeds. Like the coupe, there are two trunks for a total of 12.6 cubic feet of space.
A base Corvette Coupe starts at $62,195 with a 490-horsepower V-8 and rear-mounted 8-speed dual clutch automatic. The Convertible starts at $69,695. Our 3LT model kicks that up to $81,095 with Napa Leather GT2 seats and carbon-fiber trim, leather interior and suede trim. With options like the $6,345 Z51 package with rear axle performance ratio, high-performance tires/brakes/suspension/exhaust and low rear spoiler, it was $96,925. Our ’22 CORVETTE Z51: SUNSHINE SUPERCAR is still way less than anything that delivers Supercar performance from Italy, England or Germany!
Words, Photos & Video: Dan Scanlan
’22 Corvette Stingray Convertible Video: https://youtu.be/Xfe5a2v-Hr8
For the complete ’22 Corvette Stingray story, please visit https://www.chevrolet.com/performance/corvette