When the C7 Corvette has a reputation for performance that can embarrass metal twice or three times the price, how do you improve? Well, Chevrolet's engineers felt that they had reached the limit of a front-engined sportscar's capabilities, and finally made good on the Corvette's original aspirations. A mid-engined Corvette is now a thing, and, unlike its expensive exotic competitors, the price starts below $60,000. Another rare feature is a naturally aspirated V8. With 490 horsepower (495 with the Z51 package) and 470 lb-ft of torque, the C8 still retains its heritage in the best ways. The Corvette badge is becoming its own brand, one that stands out as an avenue for inexpensive performance and, with the C8, luxury too. So, does it live up to the hype? Let's find out.
The C8 is an all-new Corvette for 2020. A new V8, dubbed the LT2, sits in a new position in the car, while the suspension, exhaust system, interior features and finishes, and wheels are new too. Most notable is the deletion of the manual gearbox (at least for now), heralding the first time that a Corvette can't be had with a stick shift. Instead, you get another Corvette first - an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic that is built to shift quickly and smoothly enough to make you forget that you can't row your own gears.
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The radical cab-forward design of the latest Corvette is the first thing people will notice about the C8. It has genuine supercar proportions and styling and sits on a set of staggered 19/20-inch wheels. The gaping front air dams and LED headlights are familiar to fans of the C7, while the wing mirrors resemble something you'd find on a McLaren. Down the sides, gaping intakes hide door handles and feed the motor, while the roof is still a removable targa item. At the back, a small wing is available to be affixed to the trunk, while the exhausts feature a quad-exit design, but at either end of the bumper now. Between them sits a prominent diffuser, and an optional Z51 package can add a more aggressive front splitter, with a "high wing" available as a standalone option. Also available are various carbon fiber accents, with the roof available in the composite material too.
The C8 Corvette's dimensions are in keeping with its budget supercar billing, with a wide stance and a low ride height. Its official measurements indicate that the wheelbase is 107.2 inches, with overall length at 182.3 inches. Width excluding the mirrors is 76.1 inches, while height is just 48.6 inches. The base curb weight is a relatively light 3,622 pounds. By contrast, the old C7 weighed even less, at just 3,298 lbs.
Color choice is not particularly limited on the Corvette. 12 different paint options are available, with Arctic White, Black, and Torch Red as the monochromatic options. Metallic choices include Blade Silver, Ceramic Matrix Gray, Elkhart Lake Blue, Shadow Gray, and Zeus Bronze. Premium colors that cost extra include Accelerate Yellow and Rapid Blue ($500 each), as well as Long Beach Red Metallic Tintcoat and Sebring Orange Tintcoat ($995 each). Racing stripes can also be added for just under a thousand bucks. Fortunately, all of the colors are available on all three trims of the Corvette, and color pricing remains the same regardless of whether you opt for a 1LT, 2LT or 3LT.
Purists will bemoan the exclusion of a manual gearbox on the C8 Corvette, but these traditionalists can at least take solace in the fact that the base Corvette is not turbocharged. A 6.2-liter V8 is what sends power to the road, and the eight-speed dual-clutch automatic sends all of it to the rear wheels only. If you spend just five grand more on any variant of the C8, you can have the Z51 package that adds a special adaptive exhaust system. Besides its ability to tread the line between civility and excitement, the Z51's exhaust also adds five horsepower, bringing the Corvette's output to 495 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. This package also adds an electronic LSD, upgraded suspension, and a set of sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. The result is a 0-60 mph sprint time of just 2.9 seconds, according to Chevrolet. Real-world testing, however, has shown that the more consistent figure is around 2.8. In addition, the V8 has large lungs that allow it to keep galloping on to an 11.2-second quarter-mile. Top speed comes at 194 mph, a figure that we assume has been limited to leave breathing room for the more hardcore iterations of the C8 that will inevitably be spawned over the coming years.
The C8 Corvette's engine is an all-new motor. Dubbed the LT4, it generates 490 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. The only complaint with the new power plant thus far is that it doesn't sound menacing enough. The optional performance exhaust goes a little way to remedy the problem, but this just goes to show how well the new Corvette has been put together. Where in the past we would have complained of the Corvette's lack of refinement, now we're complaining because it's too good. Chevy's engineers have truly delivered on their promise of an affordable halo car, and no longer can the European elite rest on their quality and comfort if an American upstart outperforms them on the track - this new Corvette is just as good and civilized and unassuming in traffic as they are. When you're going at it, even the standard all-weather tires handle your inputs well, and the weight of the car sitting closer to the rear axle aids traction. Once up to speed, the dual-clutch gearbox shifts crisply yet smoothly, seamlessly switching from gear to gear so quickly that you never feel like you have to climb the rev range again. Overall, you'll likely never feel the need for more power, but you will wish for a little more drama from the exhaust.
The C8 Corvette is not something that you can jump into and immediately be perfectly attuned to as an owner of previous 'Vettes. The mid-engine layout brings with it a totally different dynamic in how the car behaves, and those who are used to hanging the tail out with smoky drifts will find that the C8 doesn't like that sort of behavior. While it turns in very sharply and accurately (albeit without much feel), the line between a slightly overpowered turn with a hint of opposite lock and full crowd-plowing snap oversteer is very fine. If anything, the C8 prefers to understeer, with more power only adding to the problem. Deactivating the traction and giving it a bootful of power then causes the car to rotate on itself, resulting in the kind of crash that won't earn you any favors with the insurance company. Nevertheless, that limit is some way away from where most will be willing to take it. For the average track enthusiast, the C8 is brilliant, and its clever suspension and variable drive modes allow for varying degrees of performance, each of which is impressive and suited to what it's meant to do.
One gripe you may have after some highly spirited driving is with the brakes. Towards the end of the pedal, feel disappears and it becomes difficult to tread the line between good braking and ABS activation. However, this is also unlikely to become an issue unless you really push the car to its limits. Opting for the Z51 package is definitely worth your while if you want the best out of your Corvette, as it adds adaptive magnetic suspension. Even in its stiffest setting, the ride is good enough for daily use, while the more comfortable setting is outstanding, completely insulating you from even big bumps. Overall, the Corvette now feels like a complete package, integrating daily comfort with dynamic handling. However, you get the sense that the engineers held back a bit, thus making things easier for when they bring out more track-oriented versions of the C8.
At the time of writing, fuel economy figures for the C8 Corvette were not yet available. However, we expect them not to stray too far from the previous generation's 15/25/18 mpg city/highway/combined figures with the automatic. With a dual-clutch now in place of an auto, those figures are likely to improve considerably. What you'll need to bear in mind is that the gas tank has a capacity of 18.5 gallons, so heavy-footed driving will likely require more than a few stops to top up per week.
The Corvette's interior is far different from that of any generation before. Not only is the feel and ambiance one of excellent quality, but the whole design is so much more modern and driver-focused than before. A large screen dominates the driver's view beyond the leather-clad steering wheel, but to the right, the infotainment system's touchscreen is angled towards the pilot too. If you hate having your passenger fiddle with your music, this car does a lot to discourage such shenanigans. The cabin is effectively divided in two, with climate functions controlled through a sleek, narrow strip of glossy buttons. With a clean design, standard leather upholstery, and a snug cabin packed with features and options that include a head-up display and ventilated seats, the C8 truly feels special.
The Corvette is still a pure sportscar, seating two people and only two people. Getting in and out is relatively easy in the base and mid-range cars, with plenty of comfort and support from the eight-way power-adjustable GT1 seats. These offer good support and are easy to adjust to the perfect position. However, no amount of fiddling will make it possible to see out the back or over the rear quarters. Through the front, the view is unimpeded. Opting for the 3LT gets you the grippier GT2 seats as standard, but those of a larger frame will likely find them a little too confining. Regardless of which seats you have, legroom is good and headroom isn't too much of an issue for taller folk.
The C8 'Vette's interior features perforated leather upholstery as standard, with Jet Black, Sky Cool Gray and Adrenaline Red as your color choices. Opting for Competition Sport bucket seats automatically selects Jet Black faux suede instead. On the 2LT, you get more options. The leather here is genuine Nappa, and can be had in the same three colors as well as a tan shade. In addition, various two-tone combinations of the color options can be had. The 3LT also has access to a Tension/Twilight Blue combination, while all trims have access to seatbelt color choice too. Black, orange, tan, red, blue, and yellow can all be chosen. On the top two trims, the standard brushed metal look can be swapped out for carbon fiber.
The C8 Corvette is interestingly packaged, featuring a 'frunk' in the front of the car as one would normally expect in a mid-engine sports car, as well as a regular, albeit small, trunk behind the engine. The frunk measures four cubic feet in volume with the rear trunk measuring 8.6 cubes. In the back, you can stow the targa top for days that you want the wind in your hair, or even fit a pair of golf bags. Total volume is down by 2.4 cubic feet versus the outgoing front-engined C7, but is still impressive for something as special as this.
In the cabin, a slot between the seats can hold your smartphone neatly, while the center console has a small bin for keys and change and doubles as a drinks storage too. A small glovebox is supplemented by shallow door pockets. Overall, the C8 may seem impractical, but it's actually more usable than expected.
The C8 Corvette coupe has the fun feature of a removable targa top that makes it more versatile as a pleasurecraft than some of its rivals. Adding to the experience is standard dual-zone climate control, as well as a 12-inch configurable driver info display, variable drive modes, and keyless entry. Options include heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, a head-up display, and a performance data recorder to view and analyze your driving. A rearview camera is standard with a front parking camera available, while adaptive dampers and a variable exhaust are also on the options list. Cruise control, heated mirrors, rear park sensors, a soft-close rear hatch, remote start, and a teen driver function are also standard. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is available, but no advanced driver aids beyond the stability and traction systems are featured.
Chevrolet's Infotainment 3 Plus system is fitted to the C8 Corvette, with an eight-inch touchscreen controlling output to a ten-speaker Bose sound system. As standard, Bluetooth, a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot, HD Radio, SiriusXM satellite radio, and smartphone connectivity from both Apple and Android are included. If that's not quite enough, a 14-speaker upgrade also from Bose is available. Wireless charging and voice-activated navigation can also be had from the 2LT up. Near Field Communication is standard on all trim variants, making pairing and connecting your phone much easier. With the touchscreen angled towards the driver, using your peripheral vision to see the screen is much easier, but it does make things tricky for the bored passenger who can't safely access the screen easily without clambering half over the center console.
The C8 Corvette has thus far been free of recalls, and with the model being all-new for 2020, we can't use data from the outgoing C7. Time and long-term reviews will prove whether the C8 has been well-built or not.
Neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA has rated the C8 Corvette. However, with minimal available driver aids and no adaptive headlights or semi-autonomous features available, it would be unlikely to score a Top Safety Pick award.
As standard, the C8 Corvette is rather sparsely equipped in the safety department. It has advanced stability and traction control systems, but not much else. Frontal airbags and seat-mounted side-impact airbags are included, along with a rearview camera and rear parking sensors. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and a forward parking camera are available, but no other advanced aids are to be found on the options list and these two basic features are not available on the base trim.
While alternatives from Mustang and even within Chevrolet offer more outright power, the C8 lives up to its billing as an affordable sportscar. With a base price just below $60,000, the latest Corvette hasn't priced itself out of its own market. The interior is beautiful and well-crafted, and is no longer "good for a cheap American sports car" - it's good, full stop. The available adaptive suspension, sticky tires, and variable exhaust included in the Z51 package are also well-priced, with the bundle costing just five grand and improving the already good C8 considerably. Yes, the new handling dynamics that are inherent to a mid-mounted setup will take previous Corvette owners some getting used to, but this is still an approachable car that inspires confidence. This may not be the ultimate sports car ever, nor the most powerful by a long shot, but it is brilliant, and worth every penny of its low asking price.
The base C8 Corvette is known as the 1LT and starts at a base price of $59,995 including its $1,095 destination freight charge. Stepping up to the more luxurious 2LT costs $67,295, while the top-of-the-range model, the 3LT, costs $71,945. Fully loaded, the C8 Corvette can lose some of its blue-collar working-man appeal, as we managed to cram the online configurator with enough options so as to bring the final value to over $105,000.
The C8 Corvette coupe is currently available in three trims: 1LT, 2LT, and 3LT.
The base 1LT features leather upholstery, GT1 seats, keyless entry, a 12-inch driver info display, a ten-speaker Bose sound system, and an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and SiriusXM satellite radio. Also included are a rearview camera, keyless entry, and dual-zone climate control.
The 2LT is a little more luxurious, adding heated and ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel, Napa leather upholstery, a head-up display, wireless charging, a front parking camera, and voice-activated navigation. The Bose sound system is also upgraded to include 14 speakers in total, and a performance data recorder is added as well.
For the 3LT trim, GT2 sport seats and heated auto-dimming wing mirrors are added, along with the option of Adrenaline Red leather and custom stitching (among other color options). In addition, the expanse of leather is greater on the 3LT, with suede microfiber upper interior trim also added. Essentially, the 3LT is the one to buy if you're after the most unique interior color and material combinations available.
The most obvious choice when it comes to picking a package is the one we've referenced throughout this review: the Z51 package. For $5,000, this package adds an electronic limited-slip differential, performance rear axle ratio, Z51-specific Brembo brakes and suspension, an adaptive performance exhaust system, a unique front splitter and rear spoiler and sticky Michelin tires. Also available is an engine appearance package for $995. It adds LED lighting for the engine bay and carbon fiber accent panels. A nose-lifting system is also available for $1,495 but not on the base model, while a larger track-like rear wing can be had for $1,150. On the interior, Competition Sport bucket seats cost just $500, but won't be comfortable for daily use.
If you're looking for an attainable yet exclusive-looking super sports car, the base 1LT Corvette is perfect. It fits the bill in terms of performance, as all three models share the same underpinnings, and is an absolute bargain at under $60,000. However, we'd splash out a little more and opt for the $67,295 2LT. This car properly fits the supercar bill, adding luxury Nappa leather, heated and ventilated seats, an upgraded 14-speaker Bose sound system, and navigation. You also get a head-up display and a performance data recorder. Real-world daily advantages include a front parking camera and wireless charging. Of course, whichever option you go for, we would highly recommend the Z51 package with a little more power and a lot more performance capability. Altogether, you have a luxurious and highly-capable sports car with bona fide supercar looks for less than $75,000.
At a starting price of $62,000, the Camaro ZL1 is barely more expensive than the base Corvette, has a whopping 650 hp (160 more than the C8) as well as four seats and the option of a manual gearbox. On paper, buying the Corvette seems like an extravagance that makes no sense. However, the Corvette is surprisingly more versatile than the Camaro, whose rear seats are best used to extend the ZL1's meager 9.1 cubic feet of available storage space, which trails considerably behind the Corvette's 12.6. This aside, the Corvette is a truly special car, something that has the supercar looks and hype without the excessively inflated price tag. If all you want is power and on-track performance, the Camaro ZL1 is perfect. But with adaptive dampers and a sense of style that is unmatched, the Corvette is unrivaled for the price. Doing without all the overt wings, spoilers, and canards, the Corvette is self-assured and capable - not just of setting blistering lap times, but also of being used every day while carrying itself with elegance.
If you want over 450 hp from a sports coupe with a relatively low asking price, the Ford Mustang GT Premium starts at just below $40,000 (almost $20,000 less than the Chevy) and only has a 30-hp deficit. Although just as impractical as a Camaro's, the Mustang also has rear seats, and with a 13.5 cubic-foot trunk, it's definitely a more practical car than the Corvette. In addition, it can be had with a manual gearbox and has restrained styling that helps one blend in. However, you get what you pay for in the Mustang, and despite its "Premium" billing, the interior is plagued by rough, hard plastics, an aging infotainment system, and a generally cheap feel. If price is your concern, you likely aren't shopping for a sports car knocking on the door of 500 hp. Therefore, the better built, more modern, and generally more appealing Corvette gets our vote.
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