Sweet Spot

Also from Issue 88

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Sweet Spot 1
Sweet Spot 2
Sweet Spot 3
Sweet Spot 4
Sweet Spot 5
Sweet Spot 6
Sweet Spot 7
Sweet Spot 8

Roaring is the proper description for the engine’s sound, too—so long as the car is equipped with the optional Dual Mode exhaust. So outfitted, the 6.2-liter V8 bellows deeply at low revs, then transitions to a higher-pitched howl as redline approaches. It also cackles and backfires sweetly when we get off the gas, and boosts engine output by 5 hp and 5 lb-ft. Even with the top down, however, the Dual Mode exhaust is never too loud for comfort. When we’re not pushing hard, the exhaust note is no louder than that of the standard item—which, frankly, is too quiet for our tastes, even around town.

We arrive back at home base with a big smile on our face. But the fun has only begun: There are still two other Stingrays to drive.

C7 convertible #2 is a very different beast. For starters, it has a seven-speed manual transmission and the Z51 Performance Package. The latter includes sportier FE3 suspension (e.g., stiffer springs and shocks, thicker anti-roll bars); 1-inch-larger front brake rotors; dry-sump engine oiling and a heavy-duty cooling system; different gear ratios and the aforementioned electronic limited-slip differential; taller wheels (8.5 × 19-inches front, 10 × 20-inch rear versus the base car’s 18s and 19s) and lower-profile tires (245/35ZR19s front, 285/30ZR20s rear, compared to the 40- and 35-aspect ratio base rubber); and different aero bits, including a full-width rear spoiler. Astonishingly, all these goodies raise the C7 convertible’s base price by less than $3,000, to $58,800.

We’re excited to sample the Z51 setup, but even more eager to test out this car’s optional Competition Sport seats. While the standard GT seats offer far more lateral support than those in the C6, the Competition Sport seats feature large upper-body bolsters that promise to better clamp us in place while we probe the car’s limits.

Jumping to the punch line: The Competition Sport seats deliver on their visual promise of providing more support without compromising comfort or ease of ingress or egress. As an added bonus, the $2,500 seat package includes “sueded microfiber wrap” on the seats, shifter and steering wheel. 

We wish our test car had been fitted with the optional heating and cooling functions—features that are option-group dependent, not seat dependent. Although the bun warmers would have been nice on our 45-degree Palm Springs day, it was hardly a sacrifice to go without them because the Stingray convertible does an excellent job of keeping the cold out of the cockpit when the top is down. Most air is sent over the tops of our heads, and the buffeting between the occupants—inevitable in convertibles without windblockers—is modest. Normal conversation is possible above 60 mph, and we didn’t have to raise our voices much to communicate up to around 100. With its top up, the convertible is almost as quiet as the coupe at normal speeds. Once into the triple digits, however, there’s far more wind noise emanating from the fabric roof.

In the twisties, the Z51 package proves just as desirable as the Competition Sport seats. Compared the base, FE1-suspension car, the Z51-equipped FE3-suspension Stingray feels more planted, more responsive and, well, faster. While it doesn’t offer noticeably more grip, it definitely allows us to better exploit that grip, with less nose dive under braking, faster turn-in and less lean in the corners—not that the base car leaned much to begin with. In short, Z51 makes the Stingray feel more like a full-on sports car, one that better connects the driver to the road and really encourages you to attack the turns with conviction.