The eighth-generation Chevy Corvette has been a long time coming. From blurry spy shots in 2017 to more such snaps and occasional videos, the American sports car has managed to keep the enthusiasts and ardent fans tuned in, right up to its reveal yesterday.
The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray marks a major departure for the nameplate from tradition. For the first time ever, the ‘Vette has chosen a mid-engine layout over the front-engine configuration Chevrolet stuck to until now.
Zora Arkus-Duntov, a Belgian-born American engineer, was one of the earliest visionaries that saw where the Corvette brand would end up eventually. Nicknamed “Father of the Corvette”, he first conceived the mid-engined version over a half-century ago. Quite a few mid-engined prototypes have reared their heads during the Corvette’s lifespan, with a few nearly getting the go-ahead for production.
The C8 Corvette is straight up American muscle, now served with a sporty, cutting-edge flair.
Going midship has led the Corvette to shed its long, low profile for compact, svelte, quite European styling.
The year is 2019, and Chevrolet has finally conceded to what seems to be a foregone conclusion in hindsight. The eighth-gen Corvette’s V8 no longer sits up front. It finds a new place behind the seats, with Chevy bidding goodbye to the radical long bonnet featured by the sports car until now. One signature feature the firm hasn’t parted with is the C8’s roof, which can be manually removed and stowed away for some spirited driving with the top down.
And with such a drastic repositioning, the C8 Corvette has gone from its Camaro-aping design to something totally unique for Chevrolet. Here is an American sports car that looks every bit as svelte and jaw-dropping as some of its European peers. Repositioning the motor also meant major changes needed to be made to the bodywork, just to get air into the V8. This is why the C8 Corvette features gaping air dams integrated into the bumper, and a set of sharp-looking air intakes behind the doors.
Of course, you can still recognise the car as a Corvette. One look at the signature taillamps and you know you’re following a ‘Vette. However, this ‘Vette has a sleek spoiler, and conventionally mounted dual twin-pipe exhausts. The Corvette may have lost its long bonnet, and the muscular stance that comes with it, but it hasn’t lost out even an ounce of visual aggression.
Powering the coupe is a 6.2-litre V8 derived from the LT1 engine that propelled the C7 Stingray. However, it’s basically all-new. The engine’s new moniker is LT2 due to the design changes it received for its new position, and also for the power bump it now boasts of. The total output stands at 490hp, with Chevrolet throwing in five more horses if you opt for the optional Z51 performance package. This marks a considerable premium over the C7’s LT1 which was rated at 460hp. The C8’s power is sent to the rear wheels through an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic, but you can still go through the gears using the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel.
The star of the show is Chevrolet's 490-hp LT2 V8, now accommodated behind the passengers.
How is the performance then? Chevrolet says the Z51 C8 can hit the ton in less than three seconds! For perspective, the hardcore ZR1 C7 Stingray threw up ‘100kph’ on the dash in 2.8 seconds, and it was the top-notch car of its generation. This means that in a drag sprint, the new-gen base model can stay neck-and-neck with the most powerful factory-built Corvette until now.
Inside, Chevrolet has turned the driver’s seat into what should be called the Kirk chair. Bolstered seats are common fare for the segment, but the dashboard design is ages ahead of what the current ‘Vettes feature. A minimalist digital instrument cluster sits behind a flat-top (and bottom) steering wheel. The infotainment touchscreen is angled towards the driver, with a beefy centre console separating him from the passenger. Lining the console from dashboard to engine is a spine with inset buttons. Some might call it a finicky design, but we believe one button for one task is more ergonomic than having to navigate through a menu for the same.
The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 Stingray will be priced starting just below $60,000, clearly not letting go of its position as the best value-for-money performance car out there. Oh, and Chevrolet is also planning to make right-hand-driven versions of the new car. Good days are upon us, it seems!