Hooniversal Opinion: 2020 C8 Corvette

After decades of waiting the mid-engine Corvette has finally transformed from fantasy to reality.

By now you probably know everything about the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. But here’s a refresher course: mid-engine. 6.2-liter V8, a modified version of the LT1 now called LT2. 495 horsepower. 460 lb-ft of torque. Tremec-sourced 8-speed dual-clutch transmission. Which is, controversially, the only transmission. The base car weighs 3366 pounds. And supposedly carries a starting price of ~$60k.

None of this came as a huge shock. Nothing except for the price, that is. Speculation put it closer to ~$100k, make it $150k depending on the source. The C8’s base price undercuts the price that nearly everyone expected it to cost.

But the price is just part of the news. This is it, it’s finally real: the Corvette officially has become a mid-engine vehicle. It’s no longer a rumor. It’s no longer speculation. It’s no longer a joke. It’s real. The mid-engine Corvette is absolutely, completely, entirely fucking real.

And for better or for worse, we now have pictures of it by which we can judge its design. And judge its supposed performance, for that matter.

Now that we’ve had a few days to absorb all of this and culminate our thoughts. So what do your Hooniverse writers think of the news-stealing ‘Vette?

Yes, we’re still talking about the new ‘Vette

I have my concerns. Mainly, the interior and back end of the car. That row of buttons separating the driver side from the passenger side is a nightmare. It not only looks ridiculous but is also a safety hazard. Imagine driving along at 75 MPH and trying to turn off your seat heater. Using crucial controls that far from the normal line of sight will force the driver to take their eyes off the road. It’s pretty ironic and contrary to the Heads Up Display that the Corvette has done so well to promote.

Then there’s the car’s back end: it’s heinous. The taillights are a bad combo of those from the C7 and those on the current, trying-way-too-hard-to-look-cool Camaro. Yikes. But at least the design overall isn’t as much of a travesty. It carries a lot of McLaren, NSX, and Ferrari in its lines. Not a bad thing.

Now, the definite good: the powertrain will be fantastic. And it will probably sound fantastic as well considering it’s 6.2 liters piped through only a few feet of exhaust. If GM’s engineers did with the C8 what they’ve done with prior cars, it’ll be a performance monster. Likely capable of taking down cars with double and triple the price. The inevitable Grand Sport and ZR1 variants will be nothing short of insane. In all truth I had hoped for the incorporation of hybrid tech (electric motors up front, perhaps?) but somehow I’m content with it just being a big V8. It’s traditional and doesn’t push the car forward but it will work and be reliable and offer good gas mileage and that’s what the ‘Vette has always been good at.

Enthusiasts will lament the loss of the manual transmission and I don’t disagree. But the packaging simply won’t allow it. I’m excited to see a worthy auto from a worthy transmission manufacturer making its way into the Corvette, especially since the prior automatics have been less than satisfying.

The bottom line is the C8 will offer amazing performance at an amazingly low price. ~$60k puts it in the pricing territory of the base 718, the GT350 (not even the GT500), the Supra, and so on. I wouldn’t be surprised to see price creep over the first few years– think of how the GT-R started at ~$75k and the base model is now ~$100k– but regardless it’s a massive feat as a value proposition. The C8 is finally here and it might not have made the splash some of us were hoping for, but I’m just glad it’s actually real. Now, for that C8.R…

-Ross Ballot

It’s different, big change from the previous gen, but we all knew that when the rumours began about a Mid Engine change to the Corvette we all know and love. I’m reserving my final judgement on looks until I can see one in the metal, but it looks pretty good from the release images. The interior is next level, it reminds me of a Lamborghini interior, which are just works of art. I think the front splitter is a must have, as it looks lost without it. The most exciting part of the Corvette is that it will be built in Right Hand Drive and Holden is bringing it to down under to Australia. Looking forward to see the C8 on the Aussie roads.

-Joel Strickland

The biggest surprise for me is the price. Under $60,000. That’s great but no one will actually buy a $60,000 Corvette. The current C7 Stingray starts $56,000. The issue is that one buys a base model Corvette like that for the same reason no one buys a base model anything. Let’s assume that the actual selling price, sans dealer markup, will be under $80,000 for the nicely equipped 2020 Stingray. That’s still a bargain! Compare that to any other mid-engine vehicle. 

The second surprise is the fact that after all the rumors, the thing is powered by a conventional push-rod, OHV, naturally aspired, V8. And the power is only going to the rear wheels. That isn’t a bad thing at all, just surprising in the days of turbo-this and hybrid-that. But it’s also what keeps the price low, so other than the surprise, I’m all for it.  

Another surprise is the use of an aluminum chassis. Most other mid-engine exotic-ish cars are using some kind of magical carbon chassis – it’s lighter and stronger. While aluminum is light, it is not the strongest of metals. This, again, has to do with cost. And strength. I want to see how it will play out with future more powerful models. 

That aluminum chassis retains a huge center tunnel. That makes for smaller side sills, making the Vette easier to get into and out of, unlike many other mid-engine cars which are a complete pain. Once in, the interior seems nice but the column of HVAC switches is just simply a poor design. The square steering wheel is odd as well – the hand placements does not seem to line-up with the paddle shifters. Why, literally, reinvent the wheel?

Other than that, I didn’t see many surprises here. I give GM a lot of credit for keeping it simple. While at it, some ergonomics aside, the interior seems much improved in terms of quality. Importantly, the top still comes off and there is plenty of trunk space, front and back, making the Vette a solid touring choice. Overall, I like it and can’t wait to see future versions of it. 

-Kamil Kaluski

It’s one hell of a machine. The styling works well in person, with the weakest angle being the direct profile. That’s only because that’s the curse of pretty much every mid-engined machine out there. From the front and rear, there’s still enough design language in there that it speaks Corvette to you. But it’s clear this is a complete evolutionary step forward for Chevy.

A mid-engined American sports car with a naturally aspirated V8 engine and a starting price of just under $60k? That’s one hell of an achievement. I believe the Z51 package will cost around $12,000 which puts you at $72k to really start, but even there it’s still worth it.

People who want a Cayman will still buy a Cayman, because it’s a Porsche and that’s fine. The Porsche crest is an aspirational item for many. The Corvette flags are too, and those who buy the C8 will have plenty to smile about.

I can’t wait to drive this thing…

-Jeff Glucker

About Ross Ballot

Host of the Off the Road Again Podcast. 4WD and four-wheeling enthusiast and expert. Formula 1 fanatic. Contributor to Hooniverse, ATVRider.com, UTVDriver.com, and Everyday Driver. Usually found getting a vehicle stuck in the mud or on the rocks and loving every second of it.

32 Comments

  1. I don’t see anything wrong with the column of buttons; before actually sitting in the car and trying to poke them blindly. They will still be a huge improvement over touch screen controls, or capacitive-not-buttons like the ATS. If some of them have a bump on them, after a week of driving they should be pretty solidly in your muscle memory. You could even say it’s a loose homage to the vertical radio in the C2.

  2. Now that the Corvette is finally returning to its automatic-only roots, I trust it’s just a matter of time before the long overdue reintroduction of the Blue Flame six.

      1. Don’t know about the C8, but I bet there is a youtuber out there who would put one in a C5/C6.

    1. ’82’s were auto only also, using the 700-R4 in perhaps its first application before being jammed into 25 years worth of every RWD vehicle that GM made.

      Maybe DCT 8-speed transaxles will be used in a new iteration of the Greenbrier!

  3. I don’t see anything wrong with the column of buttons; before actually sitting in the car and trying to poke them blindly. They will still be a huge improvement over touch screen controls, or capacitive-not-buttons like the ATS. If some of them have a bump on them, after a week of driving they should be pretty solidly in your muscle memory. You could even say it’s a loose homage to the vertical radio in the C2.

      1. There’s three rocker switches, one for each climate zone, and one for the fan. The rest of the buttons look uniquely contoured in this image. i.imgur.com /1AsLj00.jpg
        You might have been able to put a pair of knobs to the right of the ‘mode’ button (to the right of the shifter). That would be more intuitive, but still a derivation from the orientation of most two knob setups.

        It does seem more complicated than the C7 design, but it also looks a lot less like a module that would have come out of a cruze.

        You’d need 3 knobs, 4 seat toggles, and 10 buttons to replicate what the column controls.

        EDIT: I can’t seem to post a link to the image without the shitty imgur link border showing up. I spaced out the link to avoid that.

  4. Think of something even more amazing, when the C9 comes out in 10-12 years, these will be sub $30k used cars that can be serviced at your local Chevy dealer. Also, can’t wait for the insane kit cars using this drive train.

      1. I give it 6 months from when the C8 hits the street until the engine and transmission from one end up in a Fiero.

          1. Experience would tell us there will be some numbnuts that crashes before making it home from the dealership!

  5. In real world, often bumper-to-bumper traffic, an automatic is the right transmission to have. Particularly with all that HP and torque.
    Haven’t had a three pedal in years and I don’t miss exercising my left leg to fatigue.
    Manuals are so twentieth century, IMHO.

    1. https://media.giphy.com/media/4tpA9ymal1NvO/giphy.gif

      I mean…I see your point. Our Leaf is so easy to drive, I’m occasionally tempted to ask my cat to go get groceries. But this is not at all what a Corvette is about. And I also remember how much fun it can be to throw a vehicle around the twisties once I sit in a competent manual car. Not trying to decide anything for you here, but I’m not the least bit in doubt what I prefer when it comes to the choice between a comfy or fun commute (I have a good road from A to B though).

    2. Also you are not likely to be doing 0-60 in under 3 seconds in a manual. A car this fast I’d be happy enough not having to take my hands off the wheel when pushing it.

      1. when I find I need a three pedal fix or just to tow a trailer, I jump up into my Dodge ram diesel and stir the gears. for every day cut and thrust in the city-automatic or automated every time..

        1. Is that a new little one or a big old one? Autos these days with lots of gears that spend 99% of time with the torque converter locked are ok with me.

          Nothing like a 3-pedal fix though!

          1. oh, I suppose it is considered an old one now. it’s seven thousand pounds empty but it will pull twelve thousand which is enough for me. I looked at the new trucks but I don’t have ninety large to invest in a vehicle that looses half its value if you use it as a truck. the ’03 is paid off long time ago, and when not used as a truck it is in the garage sleeping. sixteen years ago, automatic transmissions didn’t get along well with diesels, I just don’t trust them still when a lot of torque and vibrations are present. clutches and five speeds work good enough, better is the enemy of good.

          2. Thanks I was curious if it was one of the new 1500 diesels or an older HD type when they still offered manuals.

    3. My primary daily has been a manual since I graduated high school in 1986. I have rarely lamented it in any kind of traffic and my commute in Detroit for a few years was through downtown as it was in Columbus for almost 20 years. I simply fail to understand that concern.

    4. You had me respectfully disagreeing with you until “manuals are so twentieth century…”.

      How about, “automatics are so geriatric” because they’re easier on the old joints and degraded dexterity? Or, “automatics are so Millennial” because such drivers want instant gratification with minimal effort? Fair statements? No. Nor is labeling a manual transmission archaic.

      Manual transmissions are old-school for sure, but not outdated. They’re simply more involved. It’s like grilling vs. microwaving, or hand-writing a letter vs. texting, or analog vs. digital. One is about involvement and satisfaction, the other is about efficiency. Manuals involve tactility and feedback, while automatics deliver hands-off repeatability. I see automatics as the choice of those that care about the numbers, and manuals for those that simply enjoy the act of driving.

    5. You had me respectfully disagreeing with you until “manuals are so twentieth century…”.

      How about, “automatics are so geriatric” because they’re easier on the old joints and degraded dexterity? Or, “automatics are so Millennial” because such drivers want instant gratification with minimal effort? Fair statements? No. Nor is labeling a manual transmission archaic.

      Manual transmissions are old-school for sure, but not outdated. They’re simply more involved. It’s like grilling vs. microwaving, or hand-writing a letter vs. texting, or analog vs. digital. One is about involvement and satisfaction, the other is about efficiency. Manuals involve tactility and feedback, while automatics deliver hands-off repeatability. I see automatics as the choice of those that care about the numbers, and manuals for those that simply enjoy the act of driving.

  6. I somehow missed the “automatic only” memo. That’s a deal-breaker for me, though I’m not a potential buyer of this car anyway. Automatics are certainly faster, if that’s your thing, but it’s not mine– I value subjective over objective measurements. The point of a manual isn’t performance– it’s driver involvement and feedback. I guess the Corvette has long outgrown the “driver’s car” ideal and has for decades been focused strictly on the numbers, which is (I suppose) appropriate given its target competition. So, for the intended purpose, I think the lack of a manual is understandable.

    As Ross said, the rear on this thing is just awful. I do think the tail lamps are better looking than the crying-mascara look of the C7’s, but overall the rear design is just waaaaay too busy. Even the lines on the roof and along the rear glass are too much. I’m pretty critical of styling in general, I guess, but I have a difficult time finding anything from Chevrolet that isn’t ugly. I think this car relies heavily on the front-end styling to even resemble a Corvette. Mid-engine cars often look aggressive and fast, but I can’t think of one that looks “pretty” like a classic long-hood, short-deck design. However, given the car’s targets, the platform change makes sense. Again, function dictates form.

    In summary, I see the new Corvette as a compromise in aesthetics and driver involvement in favor of outright performance.

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