2013 Chevrolet Corvette 427 Convertible road test
Up the pace and it's ready
In this guise, the traction nannie is much more liberal with the throttle, allowing more wheelspin and a surprising amount of oversteer. Indeed, when faced with too much rear-end side-stepping, the Competition Mode merely limits the silliness rather than eliminating it; think of it as the bartender at the aforementioned dive who, upon determining you've quaffed just a few too many over-proofed libations, suggests limiting your consumption to light beer rather than cutting you off completely. That discretion makes Chevrolet's stability program (it's also used in the Camaro ZL1) the best in the biz, just like the aforementioned watering hole.
Such oversight is absolutely necessary since the 427 is capable of upwards of 1.06 g's in lateral acceleration. For those not familiar with Newtonian physics, that means that, thanks to the huge (front: 285/30ZR19; rear: 335/25ZR20) Michelins, if the tires unceremoniously let go at full chat, said convertible Corvette might well be launched into orbit. The Corvette's grip is so prodigious and its limits so abrupt that without some electronic minder, every fast drive would be fraught with peril. Criticize the modern supercar for its lack of purity all you will, but the majority of them would end in junkyards — and their owners in graveyards — were it not for the various electronic subsystem reigning them in.
Light is right
As for straightline performance, the 427, as I said in the beginning, delivers the expected goods. Despite gaining some 70 kg over the Z06 Coupe on which it is based (mainly because, as a nod to the loss of the structural-rigidity-enhancing roof, the 427's frame is made of steel rather than the Z06's aluminum), the ragtop 'Vette's acceleration is as outrageous as expected. One hundred kilometres an hour is achieved in less than four seconds. Given its head, the 427 will top out at more than 300 km/h. Neither claim is surprising when you consider that GM claims this soft-top Corvette's power-to-weight ratio is better than a Porsche 911 Turbo or the V10 version of Audi's much-heralded R8.
It's also worth noting that the way the Corvette makes power is fairly unique. Unlike so many current performance automobiles (BMW included now) that make their otherworldly performance through turbocharging, the 427's is normally aspirated. Not only that, its mondo seven litres (that's 427 cubic inches, by the way; hence the name) of displacement are also significantly more than the high-revving non-turbos from Europe (like the aforementioned R8 and various Ferraris). That means it combines the torquey nature (there are 470 lb.-ft. available) of the turbocharged engines with the more linear throttle response of a traditional, normally aspirated powerplant. Disparage big-block American iron all you will for their lack of overhead camshafts but they do have their advantages.
Comfort-wise, the 427 delivers pretty much what is expected of America's baddest sportscar. The interior is a little cruder than its European competition though the seats are comfortable enough. The ride, despite the magic promised by GM's magical Magnetic Ride Control suspension, will quickly have all but the most dedicated performance enthusiast wishing for a Lexus. I expect both attributes to be enhanced dramatically in the soon-to-be-expected seventh-generation Corvette.
Nonetheless, the 427 Convertible is an attractive piece, especially festooned, as my tester was, with its 60th anniversary livery (hard to believe that the Corvette is now officially a senior citizen, isn't it?). Indeed, I was surprised how many of downtown Toronto's normally effete revelers, shop owners and doormen effusively praised the 427; the Corvette still garners its props as North America's supercar. That a fully outfitted 60th anniversary edition costs a comparatively (if, again, you're comparing with Porsche 911s and Audi R8s) frugal $112,595 excuses a few interior oversights, especially considering the scintillating performance.