Apart from the fact it looks amazing.
It has been a long time coming and Chevrolet has done a great job, much to our annoyance, of keeping tight-lipped on the next generation of the Corvette. Short of knowing the drivetrain layout would be a departure from the last seven generations' front-engine to rear-wheel-drive setup, details have been scarce. However, last night Chevrolet pulled the covers off and we were there to see the reveal in Orange County, California. Following on from that, here's everything you should know about the new C8-generation 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
The Corvette had reached an insane level of performance with the C7 generation. At this point, the only thing holding it back from having better balance and handling is moving the engine to the middle for better weight distribution. While many people appear to have problem with the break in tradition, the grandfather of the modern Corvette, Zora Arkus-Duntov, pushed hard for the Corvette to have its engine mounted in the middle. Just before his retirement in 1974 Duntov made one last campaign to get the engine mounted mid-ship, but was scuppered by technical problems.
The mid-mounted engine is a 6.2-liter V8 called the LT2, despite having the same fundamental geometry and most of its internals from the previous LT1. It makes 495 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. That gives it an extra 40 horsepower and 10 lb-ft of torque over the LT1 engine in the current generation of Corvette. Peak torque arrives at 5,150 rpm and the rev limiter shows as the same 6,600 rpm as the current Corvette.
The C8 Corvette will ship with a new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, but there's no hint of a manual transmission becoming available. There has been a huge outcry across social media but the reality is that the C8 is a huge push forward in performance and, no matter how good you may be with a stick, a dual-clutch auto will be faster and give more control. That doesn't mean there won't be one available later, but we don't recommend people hold their breath. It's also worth noting that, contrary to what people claim, the Corvette hasn't always had a manual transmission. The Corvette came out in 1953 and didn't get a manual transmission until 1955.
When equipped with the Z51 performance package and a driver that feels the need for speed, Chevy says that a base Stingray should hit 60 mph in less than 3 seconds. That is phenomenal when you consider exactly how likely there is to be a Z06 and ZR1 version of the C8 Corvette in the future. The Z51 package will also include improved cooling, larger brakes, and a louder exhaust system.
The C7, and most generations before, were built as traditional frames using parallel rails running front to back. The C8 Corvette uses a center tunnel structure made of aluminum as a backbone with the front suspension mounted on a subframe. The C8 Corvette does use carbon-fiber, but only where it's most efficient in terms of cost versus effectiveness. For the base model, there are only two pieces of carbon-fiber being used. One is for a rear bumper beam, and the other is as a close-out panel for the center-tunnel that strengthens the backbone of the car. While the C8 is torsionally stiffer than the outgoing C7, it's also heavier with a dry weight of 3,366 lbs. That means with fluids, it'll probably be tip the scales at around 3,600-3,700 lbs.
This is the single largest fact that drops jaws with the C8 Corvette. Chevy is absolutely swinging for the fences, and coming in with that price point changes many a game. For a start, the new Toyota Supra comes in only around $10k cheaper. However, the real gauntlet is being thrown down to the Porsche 718 Cayman, which is a mid-engine car that has a starting price of $57,000. However, that's with a 4-cylinder engine that makes 300 horsepower. To get to 365 horsepower, and still 130 horses down on the C8, you're going to spend another $21k for the GTS version.
The only thing left to solidify the C8 Corvette as the performance bargain of the century is finding out its grip and handling abilities. Right now we suspect there are some high-level executives that are very nervous right now across Europe, including Italy.
The base configuration is the FE1 trim for the everyday driver that wants to blend his supercar level of performance with enough comfort that they're not punished for driving it across town or on a commute. FE3 is the next step up, and also retains the conventional suspension system but includes the Z51 Performance package and its electronic limited-slip differential, summer tires, and larger brake discs. For the back road and track day hero, the FE4 package ups the ante by adding magnetorheological adaptive dampers and the challenge of correctly pronouncing that to your friends.
And it actually still makes sense. Despite the new mid-engine layout fundamentally changing the profile of the Corvette, it still contains familiar design elements that let you know it's a Corvette. The front fenders still come up to a peak, the rear gently bulges out then tucks back in, and the nose has the defining center spear featured. It all adds up to a core of continuity with the previous generations of Corvette despite the fundamental design change.
Once people have managed to look past the awkward design of the hexagonally shaped steering wheel, there's also a long string of buttons separating the driver and passenger. As well as re-inventing the wheel, Chevy is not delivering a conventional shifter either. Instead, it's what Chevy is calling and Electronic Transmission Range Selector, or ETRS for short. Thankfully, they have also supplied conventional paddles behind the wheel for anyone wishing to control the gear changes themselves.
The C8 Corvette has a removable hard-top but those that stuck around to the end of the lengthy reveal event got to see a pre-production version with a foldable soft-top. That means it could just be a few short months before Chevy show the soft-top off for real.
That means it'll be available, and Chevy plans on making it available, in countries that drive on the wrong side of the road, that could include the UK, Australia, and Japan. Finally, it looks like the Corvette can be enjoyed by the rest of the world for the world-class sports car it is.