Not long ago, Chevrolet (NYSE:GM) announced that it would be bringing a Corvette variant to the Beijing Auto Show later this month, which set the rumor mill in motion as speculations abounded as to what it could be. Chevy had already ruled out a ZR1, so we knew it wasn’t going to be that; that left it open to a special edition, like the Black Widow model from Chicago or, as it turned out to be, a convertible model of the bonkers Z06.
To refresh your memories, the Z06 packs quite a wallop — more so than usual, since there won’t be a range-topping ZR1, at least yet. It houses 625 horsepower and 635 pound-feet of torque within its bowels, which is a lot for any car, but a particularly high level for a convertible. This is because convertibles have to be designed differently to accommodate the roof when it folds down, and to make due without the rigidity that a conventional roof provides.
“Until recently, it was not possible to create a lightweight, open-roof structure strong enough to cope with the braking, cornering, and acceleration of Corvette’s top performance models,” Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter said in GM’s press blast. “The frame for the Z06 convertible leverages advancements in computer-aided engineering, metallurgy, and manufacturing techniques — many of which were not available just five years ago.”
Not to worry, it still has the supercharged 6.2 liter V8, the seven speed manual, and is still quite lightweight. Needless to say, its competition (ahem, Porsche) will have their hands full creating an answer to this beast.
“The Z06 Convertible is a world-class supercar in every sense,” said Mark Reuss, executive vice president, Global Product Development. “Only a handful of convertibles in the world bring more than 600 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque. Even fewer can match the advanced technologies, aerodynamic design, and visceral driving experience of the Z06 Convertible.”
Not only is it stiff for a convertible, but the new topless Z06′s aluminum structure is 20 percent stiffer than the previous, fixed-roof Z06, GM said. Further, it’s weight is on par with the current fixed-roof coupe. The Z07 Performance Package, which adds Brembo carbon-ceramic matrix brakes, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires and adjustable front- and rear-aerodynamic components, is available for the convertible as well.
“The most impressive aspect of the Z06 Convertible may be its performance bandwidth,” said Juechter. “Very few cars on the market can match its combination of extreme, supercar levels of performance; the flexibility for daily driving and long-distance commuting; and the 360-degree, open-air driving experience only true convertibles can offer.”
In addition to its immense power, the Corvette also features Direct injection, Active Fuel Management, or cylinder deactivation, and continuously variable valve timing. This makes in surprisingly fuel efficient, given its horsepower output.
“Our mission with the seventh-generation Corvette was to make the performance levels more accessible, enabling drivers to exploit every pound-foot of torque, every ‘g’ of grip and every pound of downforce,” Juechter said. “It’s a philosophy we introduced with the 460-horsepower Corvette Stingray — and one that’s even more relevant with an estimated 625 horsepower at your beck and call.”
It seems, at least on paper, that the Corvette convertible will offer virtually no tradeoffs over the coupe model, making it a track-day beast for those aching for some sun. Naturally, the price tag will come it a bit higher than the coupe model, but given the stated performance, Chevrolet has some leeway there before the car’s considered “not worth it.”