As much as we loved our time in the new mid-engine 2020 Corvette Stingray coupe, we did suffer the heartbreak of having to wrangle the removable roof panel into the trunk when we wanted to enjoy open-air driving.
Thanks to Webasto, Corvette drivers can top the top on their gorgeous sports car with just the touch of a button. Heck, they don’t even have to be in the car, as the Corvette’s remote key fob has a button for operating the top from a distance.
“Webasto is proud to support the launch of the iconic 2020 Corvette with our convertible roof system serving as a key feature of the vehicle’s bold exterior styling,” said Marco Arienta, Vice President Global Customer Group at Webasto. “As a long-term, reliable supplier to the General Motors family of vehicle brands, developing the high-volume retractable hardtop in collaboration with the Chevrolet team resulted in an industry breakthrough that consumers will love to drive while taking in the world around them.”
The regular Corvette Stingray coupe has a roof panel that releases with three latches, and the car is designed with a spot beneath its rear hatch to hold the removed roof, so it is pretty convenient. But no everyone wants to wrangle an ungainly piece of fiberglass off the car and into the trunk. And it pretty much rules out traveling with the roof open, because it occupies most of the storage capacity in the rear.
The folding hardtop, on the other hand, not only stows with the press of a button, but it crouches into space ahead of the engine, so it doesn’t encroach on the trunk space at all.
It does this using a compact six-motor electric retraction system in place of the usual hydraulics. Four of those motors have integrated controllers, eliminating the need for a central control unit.
The roof will raise or lower while driving at speeds as high as 30 mph, and the roof’s vertical rear window is separate from the roof, so it can be raised as a wind deflector even when the top is down. Or, alternatively, when the roof is raised, the driver can lower the side windows and the rear window to allow airflow through the cabin while enjoying protection from the sun thanks to the roof.
Of course, an automated roof weighs more than the DIY top that comes on the regular Stingray. Worse yet, that weight is at the very top of the car, raising the car’s center of gravity, which is an anathema for sports cars.
However, Webasto and Chevrolet engineers were able to limit the damage, with the roof adding only 141 lbs. compared to the coupe thanks to the use of plastic and aluminum. It is also challenging to preserve styling when the top can fold away, but the engineering teams have avoided the hunched roofline or lumpy tail bodywork other hardtop convertibles suffer.
Hopefully, when the weather turns warmer in the spring, we’ll have a chance to test Webasto’s convertible handwork for ourselves.