Expanding the nameplate's appeal logically and without compromise.
You had to see this coming. You just had to: Chevrolet scalped its hardest-core Corvette model ever, the 2015 Z06. The automaker is debuting the topless heathen at the 2014 New York auto show. “But the C7.R race car isn’t a convertible,” we can already hear you muttering under your breath, followed by, “droptops are for conceited extroverts who don’t care about driving.” Except the 2015 Corvette Z06 convertible isn’t an affront to Z06dom or the track-car universe, where the structural rigidity afforded by coupe bodies is traditionally favored over supposedly floppy, style-conscious ragtops.
That’s because it not only gets the hardtop’s full complement of road-burning hardware, but also features a chassis every bit as stiff as the Z06 coupe’s sans its removable targa roof panel. The coupe and convertible’s shared aluminum chassis is a claimed 20 percent stiffer than the that of the outgoing, fixed-roof Z06’—60 percent more rigid with the coupe’s roof panel in place—and Chevrolet claims the topless car weighs nearly the same as the coupe. Need we even bring up other great rides like the Miata or the Boxster?
So, there shouldn’t be a single non-aesthetic reason why the Z06 convertible can’t share track time—or the Z06 name—with the coupe. Besides, Chevy came close with 2013’s 427 droptop, and it sold one Z06 racing package–equipped Corvette convertible way back in 1963, so the seal has been broken. (Never mind that the automaker hasn’t offered a topless Z06 of any kind since, and the other estimated 198 ’63 Z06s were coupes.) We say that if you want your Z06 cake and want wind to whip your face while you eat it, too, that’s your business.
Damn, That Corvette Sure Is Z06-y
As far as appearances go, the Corvette Z06 convertible is crushingly predictable: It looks exactly like the coupe, minus the roof. This is more than okay, however, given how ridiculously awesome the car looks top-down; with the lined and padded cloth top raised, the Z06 looks slightly less fantastic, thanks to the roof’s helmet-like appearance. That top has a glass rear window and can motor itself up or down at speeds up to 30 mph, and can be operated via the key fob from outside the car. This is one area where the coupe really succeeds, thanks to its sweeping, steeply raked roofline. Otherwise, the convertible gets the coupe’s plethora of body addenda, scoops, vents, spoilers, and more.
Similar to the regular, non-Z06 Corvette convertible, the top mechanism requires the transmission and differential cooling ducts to be moved from the tops of each rear fender to underneath the Z06 droptop. Alfresco-seeking buyers can opt for one of the same three aerodynamic packages—ranging from wild to pure, adjustable bad-assery—found on the hardtop, as well as the optional Z07 group. The latter option brings 15.5-inch front and 15.3-inch rear Brembo carbon-ceramic brake rotors (0.9 inch larger in diameter than the base Z06’s two-piece cast-iron units), as well as Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires and the most extreme of the three aerodynamic packages. Lightweight 19-inch front and 20-inch rear spin-cast aluminum wheels are standard.
The only thing wrong with two cars sharing GM’s jaw-dropping new supercharged, 6.2-liter LT4 V-8 engine is that three cars aren’t sharing the mill. Final output figures are forthcoming—as they are for the coupe—but Chevrolet says to expect numbers on the fun side of 625 horsepower and 635 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed manual transmission is standard, and the new 8L90 eight-speed automatic with manual shift control is optional. Power is transferred from the engine to the rear transaxle via a carbon-fiber torque tube—again, the same as in the coupe—and the hardtop’s efficiency-boosting direct fuel injection, Active Fuel Management, and continuously variable valve timing carry over as well.
Chevrolet will offer buyers the choice of four top colors, five interior colors, and we assume the brand’s trick GPS- and camera-based Performance Data Recorder will live on the options list, too. With the Z06 convertible, Chevrolet joins Porsche, Jaguar, Audi, BMW, McLaren, and other automakers hawking high-performance sports cars in topless form. We can’t imagine a better way to enjoy the Z06’s sure-to-be-mean exhaust note (we got a brief preview of the aural insanity when Chevy idled the coupe on stage at the 2014 Detroit auto show) than in a Z06 without a rear hatch or roof section. And to all those who remain unconvinced, how can you argue with a Z06 model that’s sure to garner the nameplate even more appeal? If we do say so ourselves, that’s a reason to love the Z06 convertible that’s nearly as stiff and unyielding as the car’s chassis.