- Dec 11, 2005
Well, here it is. The new mid-engine Corvette.
Leaked info hasn’t dampened the excitement for this car one single bit.
Three years ago we caught our first blurry glimpse of an early C8 Corvette prototype, heavily covered in camouflage. Now, the covers are finally lifted on this, the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. This is nothing less than a paradigm shift for America’s iconic sports car, bringing to life the vision of a mid-engined Corvette first conceived by Zora Arkus-Duntov over a half-century ago. Numerous mid-engine prototypes have surfaced through the decades, with a few of those nearly getting the green light for production. With 60 years of anticipation, the million-dollar question now is whether the C8 was worth the wait. Considering Chevrolet says you can step into this car for less than $60,000, all indications point to a resounding yes.
Pricing aside, the stats suggest it’s off to a good start as well. As speculated, the engine sitting behind the passengers is a 6.2-liter V8, derived from the LT1 that powered the C7 Stingray but it's basically an all-new beast. That mill is now dubbed LT2, due to the design changes required for mid-engine duty and for the increase in power it received.
Speaking of, the 2020 Stingray makes 490 horsepower – 495 hp with the optional Z51 Performance Package – which is a considerable jump over the 460-hp LT1. There is some disappointing news for row-your-own enthusiasts, however. That power is handled exclusively by a new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic, though you can still swap cogs at will with paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. And yes, it still goes exclusively to the rear wheels.
What does this mean for performance? Actually, it’s pretty darned impressive. When equipped with the aforementioned package, Chevrolet says the new Stingray can rip to 60 mph in less than three seconds. Quarter-mile or top speed figures aren’t yet known, but if you’re a Corvette fan, you’ll know the current C7 ZR1 hits the 60-mph mark in 2.8 seconds. That means, at least in a short sprint, the new base-model C8 runs side-by-side with the most powerful factory-built ‘Vette of them all. That’s a very good way to launch a new model.
The inside view of the C8 leaked prior to the reveal, but we have a better look now. The new mid-engine layout gives the Corvette a completely fresh greenhouse with a pair of digital displays for the instrument cluster and infotainment system. The wraparound arrangement looks quite cozy and driver-centric, with a beefy center console separating the driver from the passenger. And something of a surprise in this age of clean lines – fans of buttons will love the veritable drag strip of manual controls nestled in the C8’s center spine. Some might find the buttons – which operate the Corvette’s climate functions for the dash and seats – to be unsightly. However, there is something to be said for simply pressing a switch as opposed to navigating a display.
Speaking of which, the C8 is certainly a completely new vehicle from the ground up but underpinnings are somewhat familiar. The previously mentioned Z51 Performance Package adds beefier brakes and cooling, not to mention an exhaust system with a bit more bellow to its bass and the five extra ponies for the engine. As for the handling, coilover are found at the corners with an electronic steering system to guide the car around corners. Magnetic Ride Control is available as well, and it can be controlled through four driving modes from the previous model as well as two new modes. Among them is something called Z mode that offers full customization of all settings. The electrics are all part of the C8's new digital vehicle platform and electronic architecture that, among other things, will allow over-the-air updates for the C8's computer systems.
Even though the engine is now in the middle, the C8’s overall exterior design isn’t a tremendous departure from the C7. It turns out the numerous renderings we’ve seen over the last year were pretty darned close, with forward-canted side intakes not unlike those used on the mid-engined Corvette Indy and CERV III concepts being the dominant exterior feature. As with previous Corvettes, the roof can lift out for an open-air experience. The front end can also lift to better clear obstacles, and for road trips, there’s enough storage in the frunk for a couple small overnight bags.
In the back you can fit a reasonable suitcase, or perhaps more befitting the typical Corvette buyer, a pair of golf bags. And here’s a bit of good news for folks around the world who drive on the left side of the road – Chevy plans to build C8s with the steering wheel on right side of the car, too.
Considering just how significant a change this is for the Corvette, there’s all kinds of room for the C8 to be a disaster. Thus far everything seems rather impressive, but perhaps the most shocking news of all is the price. We haven’t been given a firm figure just yet, but GM estimates the C8 Stingray will start at less than $60,000. That's just a bit more than the C7's starting figure, which means the Chevrolet Corvette could well remain the bang-for-buck performance champion of the world.