Yes, folks, this is it. It’s the, aka the C8. You might know it as the mystical, magical, long-awaited mid-engined Corvette. Naturally, the bulk of the conversation around this new car will focus on where the engine sits within its chassis, but that’s just the beginning of this near-reinvention for one of America’s most iconic sports cars. The ‘Vette has always had supercar aspirations. .
We’ll start with the obvious: the engine itself. Welcome to the new LT2. It’s still a 6.2-liter V8 and, at least in this initial flavor, it eschews forced induction. Where the base C7 made 455 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, however, this new one does 495 hp and 470 lb-ft — or it will with the optional performance exhaust, at least. Without said exhaust, output numbers drop to 490 and 465, respectively.
The bigger change, though, is what it’s connected to. For the first time the 2020 Corvette will have an eight-speed, dual-clutch transmission from Tremec. The good news is that means no more slushbox automatic. The bad news? No more three-pedal manual transmission. Yes, I have mixed feelings about this too, but when it comes to performance there’s no doubt DCTs are quicker. How quick? The new C8 will have a 0-60 mph time of less than 3 seconds. Chevrolet isn’t quoting an exact time yet, but considering the outgoing ZR1 needed 755 hp to clock in at 2.8 seconds, that’s mighty impressive.
But of course it’s not all about acceleration. The new Corvette won’t truly be considered a supercar-fighter if it lacks handling, and that’s the main point of running the V8 amidships. Moving the heaviest part of the car into the middle makes for fundamentally better cornering, while a new, stiffer chassis and revised suspension are crucial as well.
All Corvettes will get coil-over suspension, while those opting for the Z51 performance package additionally get struts with adjustable spring perches. That means adjustable suspension stiffness and ride height — so long as you don’t mind a little wrench-turning. For those who prefer their suspension to adjust itself at the push of a button, Magnetic Ride Control 4.0 will also be available, as well as a new, GPS-enabled nose-lift feature. That’s right, the car can be programmed to automatically lift its nose when, say, approaching your driveway or that pesky speed bump at the grocery store.
And this indeed will be a car you could take grocery shopping. Chevrolet promises room for two sets of golf clubs in the rear trunk, while the frunk in the nose is big enough for a TSA-approved carry-on plus a laptop bag. Most importantly, there’s room in the back to fit the removable roof panel. Yes, the C8 is still a targa, and that warms my heart.
Moving the engine rearward means moving the cockpit forward, specifically 16.5 inches. This positions the driver much closer to the nose and, since that nose is shorter, pilots will have a remarkable view of the road ahead. The car’s center of gravity is now positioned directly next to the driver’s hip, a hip cradled by one of three seat options: the comfortable GT1, the sportier GT2 or the track-focused and carbon-backed Competition Sport.
Seat selection is just the beginning of the far more comprehensive customization options available to buyers of the C8, another hint at its supercar aspirations. Twelve exterior colors are on offer, along with six separate interior color schemes, plus even a choice of seatbelt color and leather stitching.
That interior is far more driver-focused than before, and a bit more edgy, too. Chevrolet’s designers name-drop the F-22 and F-35 as inspiration, but that giant column of buttons running down the right side of the transmission tunnel doesn’t look particularly aeronautical to me. Of course, that’s not really a transmission tunnel any longer, and indeed there’s no more shifter, Chevrolet switching to a pushbutton-style selector for engaging Drive or Reverse. Paddles on the wheel, meanwhile, will give manual-missing drivers something to occupy their hands on the track.
Central to the experience is a new, 12-inch infotainment system that promises all the smarts that a modern sports car driver could want, as well as an upgraded version of Chevrolet’s Performance Data Recorder. This can now be active all the time, acting like an integrated dashcam. On the track, it’ll record your laps in high resolution with overlays showing just how smooth your footwork is.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the look of the thing. Shifting the motor to the middle clearly necessitates a radical redesign, but Chevrolet’s designers did an admirable job of making the thing still look like a Corvette. Its profile is more balanced than the long-nosed ‘Vettes before, more cab-forward if I can borrow a ’90s aphorism. Yet again, this stance is definitely in keeping with the new Corvette’s supercar aspirations.
From the side, massive side intakes dominate the view, pulling in air to keep the mid-mounted 6.2-liter V8 fed and cooled. From above, that V8 is the most commanding feature, put on display beneath a 3.2-millimeter glass pane. But from the rear, the Corvette perhaps looks a bit awkward, angular taillights now more squashed than before, wedged in above bigger vents. For me, after taking some time to examine it, I really like the overall look. Yes, the rear is too busy on the base Stingray, but I have a feeling things will start to look a little more appropriate once the racier editions of the Corvette start to roll out, and you just have to know they’re coming.
The looks of the 2020 Corvette Stingray will be divisive to say the least. But then there’s a lot to digest and, more precariously,. I suspect some traditional Corvette buyers will struggle to get their heads around this new mid-engined layout, but anyone with an eye towards performance should be properly salivating right now.