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Amid storm, Chevrolet keeps calm, carries on

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Convertible

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Convertible. (General Motors)

For a moment, at Chevrolet's 2014 New York auto show preview party on 15 April, embattled General Motors (GM) chief executive Mary Barra was able to get back to the work of touting the company's latest product.

On stage, she could crow about the blazing-fast new Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Convertible, a car that accelerates from a stop to 60mph in less than 3.5 seconds.

The car's supercharged 6.2-litre small block V8 engine will deliver "at least” 625 horsepower and 635 pound-feet of torque, according to the company, though final specifications will be at least slightly higher.

All the Z06 Coupe's go-fast hardware is present on the new drop-top, and because the coupe was designed with a removable roof panel – making both versions of the car convertibles of a sort – the company could forego weight-intensive reinforcements to the convertible's aluminium frame. That left any weight or performance differences between the cars negligible.

Like the coupe, the convertible is offered with either a seven-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission. The eight-speed employs aluminium and magnesium in its construction, leading to an 8lb advantage over the stick while delivering 5% better fuel economy, Chevrolet says.

Certainly, come the end of what has been a long, cold winter for GM and much of the US, Barra will appreciate the chance to bask in the glow of the Z06 Convertible.

If not, well, Chevy also unveiled a new sub-compact crossover SUV, a mighty mite built on the chassis of the well-regarded Chevrolet Sonic that it calls the Trax. The model was already sold in Mexico, Canada and other global markets, so bringing it to the US required little additional effort.

(General Motors)

American drivers will recognise the Trax from its resemblance to the nearly identical Buick Encore. As with the Buick, the Chevy is powered exclusively by a turbocharged 138hp 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine, backed by a six-speed automatic transmission, It comes in either front- or all-wheel drive configuration.

Compared to the version of the Trax sold elsewhere, the US-spec car will enjoy added sound deadening and reprogrammed electric power steering for improved road feel. The new Trax also gets some tweaks to the grille and lights to align it with other Chevys such as the mid-size Malibu sedan.

Likewise, the Chevrolet Cruze also gets a revised appearance for the 2015 model year. Significantly, the Cruze receives sensibly sized cupholders – yes, cupholders – ending the misery of drivers who could not insert or remove their vessels without risking spillage. Other user-friendly improvements include relocated door lock switches (now on the doors, where they belong) and a trunk release on the centre console, for easy access.

(General Motors)

The Cruze, Trax and other forthcoming 2015 Chevrolets also feature OnStar and MyLink infotainment services using 4G wireless service that customers can also leverage as a wi-fi hotspot. Apple device users can bask in Siri’s familiar coo, as voice integration also factors in Chevy’s telematics strategy.

And with that announcement on 15 April, the lights dimmed, the music quieted and Barra stepped from the friendly confines of the party's stage, to be rushed by the waiting pack of journalists, each of them hoping she would tell them the tidbit of ignition-recall-related information that would net them a Pulitzer.

Setting her jaw, she stepped beyond the Z06's glow and into the fray.

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