The internet is still ablaze with news and information about the 2020 C8 Corvette. Naturally, the bulk of the conversation surrounding the new car focuses 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.
Chevrolet's reimagined sports car is more impressive than ever before, and with its mid-mounted engine and increased focus on performance and handling, the 'Vette is better poised to not only take on a growing crop of high-horsepower American sports cars but the world's best supercars, too. Yes, the 'Vette is going supercar hunting - it has always had supercar aspirations, but now it's become a legitimate threat to the best Europe and Japan has to offer - and it will do so while remaining affordable.
Ok, it doesn't literally fly, but Chevy claims that cars equipped with the Z51 performance package will go from zero to 60 mph in less than 3.0 seconds. This could make it one of the quickest Corvettes ever made - and that's just the base Stingray. Considering the outgoing ZR1 needed 755 hp to clock in at 2.8 seconds, this is mighty impressive.
Manual transmission is not even an option. Corvette historians will probably say this isn't a first for the Corvette - a manual transmission didn't appear until 1955 - the first Vette only offered an automatic. For the C8, the automatic is an eight-speed dual-clutch made by Tremec that can be shifted manually, but shifts are by wire. With no mechanical connection, the center tunnel can be completely enclosed to increase structural strength.
Leaf springs should only be found on horse-drawn carriages, so we're happy to announce that they're finally a thing of the past on Corvettes. Ever since the first 'Vette rolled off the assembly line they've had some kind of leaf spring setup. The C8 isn't just the first Corvette without leaves, it's the first to support all four corners on coil springs between control arms.
Even if the engine is now found in an unfamiliar place, the V-8 itself is pretty familiar. Just like its front-engined predecessor, its power comes from a 6.2-liter pushrod V-8 with the same bore spacing as the original small-block V-8 from 1955. Dubbed the LT2, this engine's fundamental geometry and most of its internals remain the same as the LT1's.
Sticking the engine in the middle of the car means it now breathes from the rear. The exhaust manifolds are stainless steel, and every C8 has a dry-sump lubrication system. Total output with the Performance exhaust is now 495 horsepower with 470 lb-ft of peak torque at 5150 rpm. The rev-limiter remains at 6600 rpm.
While there's no option to make the C8 sound like a 1967 Corvette 427 with side pipes, the new car does have an active exhaust system that tunes its note depending on drive mode. While changing exhaust modes has no effect on power, we'll probably just set it to the loudest, most obnoxious setting and leave it there.
The C8's center tunnel, like the rest of the structure, is aluminum. While a few special versions of the sixth-gen Corvette and the entire seventh-generation used aluminum structures, they still had traditional frames with parallel rails running from fore to aft. The C8 does away with the rails in favor of an advanced backbone structure that hangs the front suspension off a subframe.
It uses expensive carbon fiber only where it is the most efficient choice in terms of cost, weight, strength, and stiffness. Only two carbon pieces made the cut - a rear bumper beam and an underbody close-out panel that runs along the bottom of the center tunnel, strengthening the backbone of the car. With the exception of the two carbon pieces, the remainder of the C8’s structure is all aluminum
The aluminum frame is bonded and screwed together and, without its top, the C8 is 19 percent torsionally stiffer than its predecessor, according to GM’s numbers. It is also heavier: Chevy is quoting a dry weight of 3366 pounds, which means a likely curb weight of around 3600 pounds. For reference; a C7 Grand Sport weighs in at 3483 pounds.
The FE1 is the base configuration, built to be a great everyday driver for those who don't need a racecar for the road. One step up is the FE3, which includes the Z51 Performance package which includes an electronic limited-slip differential, larger brake discs, and summer tires - but retains conventional shocks. Then, there's the FE4, which builds on the FE3 kit with magnetorheological adaptive dampers.
For those who opt for the Magnetic Ride Control 4.0, they'll not just get suspension that adjusts itself at the push of a button, it also has a 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.
GM hopes that the C8 will be a 1.00-g car, even when they're talking about the "base model", the FE1. The new Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4ZP run-flat tires would be the ones to thank for this kind of cornering magic. Z51s running Pilot Sport 4S summer tires should orbit around 1.03 g and 1.05 g.
The base C8 is still being called a Stingray, and there are familiar elements on the exterior. The front fenders still come to a peak, there's a center spear across the nose, and the rear end swells out and then tucks in. A mid-engined car has a different profile than a front-engined one, so it's the details of the C8 that communicate design continuity with previous-generation Corvettes.
There's a lot of stuff shoehorned into those wide flanks. Those massive scoops try to swallow as much air as possible for both engine breathing and the side-mounted radiators, and the C8 is the first production Corvette with dual fuel tanks, which are positioned almost as saddlebags just inboard from the side scoops.
We're sure some Corvette fans were getting worried that with the changed layout, there would no longer be a targa 'Vette available. Fear not - the 2020 model is still gonna be available as a targa. Just as the previous models, the roof comes off and stores in the trunk. A folding-top convertible is due in time as well - it's like GM has thought of everything this time.
Despite putting the engine where the cargo typically goes, Chevrolet has still made room for two golf bags in the trunk. Up front, there's a new frunk said to be big enough for a TSA-approved carry-on and a laptop bag. Most importantly, there's room in the back to fit the removable roof panel. A combined total cargo space of 13 cubic feet - two less than the C7 Corvette's hatch.
Most Corvettes will be driven by their owners as their daily driver, so the cockpit is built to be user-friendly in a way that no mid-engined car has been, well, except for the Acura/Honda NSX. The controls surround the driver, with a long strip of buttons on the center console, an eight-inch touchscreen angled toward the driver for immediate access - and of course the usual steering wheel buttons.
With no engine in front, the C8's passenger compartment has moved forward a whopping 16.5 inches. However, it's not difficult to get in and out. The side sills are modest, the doors generously sized, and the seats aren't so ridiculously low that it feels like you're about to enter a dungeon.
A mid-engined Corvette, unlike many of its exotic mid-engine competitors, needs to be affordable, both to purchase and to produce. While pricing will not be released until later this year, GM president and global product chief Mark Reuss said at the reveal that the car will start under $60,000 - we assume that means $59,995?!
Any all-new Corvette is significant. The really big fuss is that this one, the eighth generation, has its engine behind the passengers for the first time in Corvette history. You'll now find the engine in the same place you'd expect to find it in some Italian exotica - yes, the new 'Vette is mid-engined.