The new Vette's interior designer makes a strong case.
The all-new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette is unlike any of its predecessors for one key reason: it's mid-engine design. The engine is now behind the driver instead of in front of them. Although the overall small block V8 engine design remains (for now), the entire Corvette has been completely reengineered, and this goes for the interior as well. Compare the C8's interior to the C7's and you'll notice many, many changes, such as its low dashboard.
Gear Patrol recently chatted with Corvette interior designer Tristan Murphy about the need from the get-go for the C8 to have that low dashboard. "The whole point of [getting] that engine behind you is it allows you to have a much lower cowl…you no longer have to sit above the engine, and you can get these really great sightlines," Murphy said.
"And that's what a mid-engine car does. The last thing we want to do was have this amazing downvision, then have this typical tall instrument panel. It was about, how do we change the game and how do we reconstruct a dashboard here to be as low and as thin as possible? That was the mission statement of the whole car."
One key point he mentioned is "low and thin." Take, for example, the air vents. The C8 "has the thinnest air vents in the production world," Murphy said. "We're 19 millimeters tall, and we had to invent that. Then we had to do a brand new HVAC system that controls that velocity [at that vent height]. Normal vents are usually about 36 to 40 millimeters tall, but every single millimeter that goes up the instrument panel, the dash has to go along, right?"
To compare, the Toyota Supra's center stack is about 30 millimeters tall, not including the screen. "Before you know it, [the dashboard] is almost an inch and a half or two inches taller because of those decisions of how you stack up audio and HVAC button controls."
Early on, Murphy and his team decided on the fighter jet cockpit layout that enables the controls to literally wrap around the driver. Murphy and crew also studied hypercar interiors like the LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder in order to make the C8 "feel special… [and the need for drivers] to get inside this thing and be like, 'Holy shit.'"