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New 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible hits LA

The open top version of the new mid-engined Chevrolet Corvette features an electrically-folding composite roof

This is the new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible. It's the first mid-engined drop-top model in the brand’s 66-year history, and it's now made its public debut at the 2019 Los Angeles Motor Show. The Corvette convertible pays homage to the original 1953 Corvette, which was only available without a fixed roof, and will go on sale early next year carrying a $7,500 (roughly £6,000) premium over the hardtop model. 

Chevrolet says the new Corvette was engineered “first and foremost as a convertible.” As such, the American brand says it retains the same boot capacity as the hardtop version, with the ability to carry two sets of golf clubs – even with the roof down.

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The roof is powered by six electric motors, which Chevrolet says are more reliable than a traditional hydraulic system. It can be lowered in 16 seconds at speeds of up to 30mph, and features an electrically operated glass divider between the cabin and the engine. The car’s tonneau cover also comes with an additional vent to aid cooling.

As standard, the Corvette’s two-piece convertible hardtop is finished in the same colour as the rest of the car’s body, although buyers can opt for a carbon flash metallic black paint finish. The roof and tonneau cover are both hewn from composite materials, to help keep weight at bay.

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The 2020 Corvette convertible is driven by the same naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 engine as the coupe, and produces 495bhp and 637Nm of torque. The engine sends its power to the rear wheels via the same eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, although Chevrolet has fitted the convertible with a unique suspension and chassis setup.

The eighth-generation Corvette convertible will go into production during the first quarter of 2020, at General Motors’s Bowling Green assembly plant in Kentucky. Left-hand-drive models will be given priority, but Chevrolet has confirmed it will build a right-hand-drive version for the export market later next year.

New 2020 Chevrolet Corvette revealed with 495bhp

The all-new Chevrolet Corvette was also on show in Los Angeles. It was first unveiled in front of hundreds of journalists, owners, dealers in a disused World War II former blimp hangar in Tustin, California, where Chevrolet confirmed it will be built in right-hand drive for the first time. 

As with every new sports car, aerodynamics take a front seat, with side air intakes for engine cooling, and air pass-through ports below the rear taillights. Of course, Chevrolet knows that Corvette purists will wail about the fact that the engine isn't at the front. To assuage those fears, company execs spent a lot of time during the unveiling talking about how the C7 Corvette was the pinnacle of what a front-engined sports car could be, and it was time to move forward.

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"This is the right time to move to mid-engine," explained Tadge Juechter, the chief engineer of the new Corvette. "We’ve known for quite a while that we were reaching the end of what front engine could do." Chevy claims the new entry-level Stingray can best 0-60mph in under three seconds, faster than every Corvette with the exception of the fastest prior-generation C7.

Tucked behind the driver is a naturally aspirated 6.2-litre small block V8 engine called the LT2. Producing 495bhp at 6,450 rpm and 637Nm of torque at 5,150 rpm (both ratings are with the optional performance exhaust), the LT2 is the most powerful entry-level Corvette ever released. Juechter says the Corvette will be the only remaining naturally aspirated V8 in the segment, with the company "bucking the trend" of forced induction. 

An eight-speed dual-clutch transmission (with flappy paddles and manual mode) gets the power to the rear wheels which means that, in another blow to Corvette purists, the manual transmission is gone for good. A plethora of drive modes allow for customising things, while a brand-new Z-Mode — complete with a Z button on the steering wheel — allows drivers to activate a fully-customisable performance mode with a single press.

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Twelve exterior colors (the white looked the best of the three they showed off at the launch), six interior themes, six seat belt colors, three different seat types, and three options for stitching mean there are plenty of ways to customize your Vette, too.

It also has sufficient storage behind the engine for two golf bags or to store the removable hardtop, and there's a standard front trunk as well.

The interior is a little more questionable, with a long row of buttons running to the right of the center tunnel between the driver and passenger. We'll have to test it in person to see if it's as odd to use as it looks, but it drew more than a few inquisitive glances from the assembled press. 

Perhaps the biggest question going into tonight was pricing. Chevrolet, of course, didn't lay out everything — that'll come closer to the start of production later this year — but GM President Mark Reuss did reveal that the Stingray will start below $60,000.

What do you make of the new Chevrolet Corvette convertible? Let us know in the comments section below…

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