Following the landmark debut of the first-ever mid-engine Corvette, the firm has revealed another big product for 2019. The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible debuts with an electrically retracting hardtop unlike the lift-out roof systems of older models.

While the car is not as ground-breaking as the one that debuted with the mid-mounted engine, the Convertible marks another milestone for the Corvette nameplate. It’s the first-ever retracting hardtop affixed to the sports car. The two-piece unit lifts up and stows away over the engine neatly beneath a hard tonneau cover in a composite compartment.

The top can be operated at speeds up to 50kph and takes 16 seconds to fold. Six electric motors handle the process, a step away from hydraulic components used in previous cars. Chevrolet says this makes the system more reliable. The composite top can be specified in body colour or in Carbon Flash trim.

With the top up, the C8 Corvette Convertible looks much the same as its coupe sibling. Retract the top, and it takes on a unique appearance compared to drop-top models before it. The design is enhanced by the rear window which can be operated independently of the top to help manage airflow in the cabin with the roof down. Additionally, the top does not eat into the car’s luggage space when it is stowed away.

C8 Corvette Convertible

Chevrolet's approach of designing the C8 Corvette as a convertible first has ensured the car stays as sharp as its coupe version.

Of course, chopping the top off a sports car raises questions about its rigidity, weight, and power. General Motors does not offer official information on potential weight gain from the added components. Chevrolet claims the C8 Corvette was designed from the very beginning to be a convertible, with its centre-tunnel structure providing the necessary rigidity. Buyers can still opt for the 495-hp Z51 package with the Corvette in drop-top avatar. Chevrolet claims there is no compromise in performance despite minimal weight gain.

Production of the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette will commence later this year, with development already underway for hardcore derivatives of the platform like Z06 and ZR1 performance trims.