We’ve just returned from Palm Springs, Calif., where we had a chance to sample the new Stingray convertible in a variety of driving environments. While the car was perfectly content to potter around this onetime Hollywood exurb, (Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, and Gene Autry all maintained residences here at one point or another), its huge grip and sports-car reflexes were most appreciated during the main event: a 9/10ths blast along Highway 74. This consistently thrilling, occasionally terrifying assemblage of banked curves and lunch-launching moguls climbs some 6,000 feet above the desert floor before plunging pell-mell down the other side.

Our heavily optioned test car also furnished us with an opportunity to sample the Stingray’s available Competition Sport seats for the first time. We’re happy to report that these aggressively bolstered buckets pinched the editorial love handles no more aggressively than did the base GT seats on our last C7 tester, and were arguably more comfortable all around. (Certainly they inspired added confidence during our Hwy 74 strafing run.)

While the Stingray sacrifices little in its conversion to open-air status, it does give up the pair of cooling vents mounted atop the rear fenders. Chevy reps assured us that the drop-top’s relocated ducts (now mounted beneath the bodywork) do a perfectly fine job of keeping trans and differential temps down, but even they eventually conceded that a Z51 coupe is probably the better choice for HPDE duty.

Still, for anything short of open-track work, the Stingray ‘vert is a perfectly viable alternative to its hardtop stable mate. It’s available now, at a base price of $56,000.