The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette: America’s sports car; evolved

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This has been a long time in the making. Chevrolet has toyed with the idea of a mid-engined sports car for decades. There have been a trio of iconic test vehicles, all wearing the name CERV, which aimed to prove that a Corvette with an engine behind the driver was the right way forward. For the last seven generations of the Corvette, however, that never came to be. Chevy believes it’s taken the front-engine rear-drive sports car as far as it can go though, which is why we now have a brand-new Corvette and this one finally nails down the mid-engined magic.

The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette has arrived, and it’s one hell of an enticing package.

The fast facts…

Despite moving the engine to the middle, the guts are otherwise mostly familiar. Behind the driver, you’ll find a 6.2-liter naturally aspirated V8 engine. It carries the designation LT2, and produces 495 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. Those figures arrive when you fit the car with the Performance Exhaust, which is offered on the base car and in turn makes this the most powerful base Corvette ever offered. It’s also the fastest. Chevy says the C8 Stingray will make the 0-60 mile per hour dash in less than three seconds. That’s likely due to the Tremec-developed eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox, excellent weight distribution, and meaty 245-front/305-rear tire setup.

There’s no talk of a manual transmission. There’s no discussion of trims and more potent variations to come. But that’s fine for now, since it seems like the standard car is ready to party and party hard.

And it starts at a tick under $60,000. You’ll likely need to add a few grand for the Z51 package, of course, but the place shouldn’t skyrocket once you check that box.

It still looks like a Corvette somehow…

Chevy was wise to not stray too far from the style formula laid down by the C7. That car was a strong evolution over the past 6 generations and brought the car to a more modern place both inside and out. The C8 continues this idea but takes it to the next level. The nose and tail look like familiar territory for fans of the brand. It’s the direct profile shot where it looks the most changed. And I think it’s the least flattering angle of the car, but overall it’s a great looking machine. Especially when viewed from the rear three-quarter angle.

Inside, Chevy made the driver’s space incredibly driver focused. To a fault, perhaps. While the overall layout is intriguing, the row of buttons for climate controls is laid out in a long string running between driver and passenger. It’s an odd choice and certainly the weakest point of an otherwise strong interior. I’m not ready to cheer or jeer the steering wheel design quite yet, until I’ve had a chance to lay hands upon it while driving the car with an anger smile splayed across my face.

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What else is there to know?

There’s a ton of aluminum and steel in the construction of the frame and chassis. There’s a fair bit of leather and suede in the cabin, and some more aluminum as well. That LT2 is still an overhead cam-design engine. At each corner you’ll find a set of Brembo brakes with four-piston front stoppers and two-piston rears. If you don’t opt for the Z51, you get Michelin all-seasons but, again you’ll want to step up here, the Z51 gets Pilot 4S tires.

Interestingly, there’s cargo space both front and rear here. Chevrolet devised an interesting rear trunk space that can swallow two golf bags. Or the roof, should you pry off the targa panel. In the nose, there’s a nice, deep frunk. Even more interesting, however, is the fact that this Corvette is going abroad and it will be fully prepped for right-hand-drive markets. This is a global Corvette.

As we wind on through the summer, we hope to learn even more about what else is in store for the new Corvette. And eventually we want to get our hands on one to see what the C8 is all about. Our first impressions though, are positive. This could be one damn fine machine, and it sounds like you can get a thrilling version for well under the $100,000 mark. Hell, under the $80,000 mark even. We’d wager that a nicely equipped Z51 should land in the low $70k range.

That’s a serious amount of car for quite a bit less than we expected.

[Images courtesy of Chevrolet]

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33 Comments

  1. Hexagonal steering wheel, nondescript row of buttons along a divider blocking the passenger from any meaningful interaction with the dash… feels like a Chrysler from ca. 1963.

    1. Passenger seat does kind of look like it was designed to convey the reality of the situation, that is, if you are over there, the person to your left is engaged in something more important to them and doesn’t want your involvement at all.

      Sounds reasonable.

        1. the buttons will eventually be federated by function and you won’t see this stupid marketing gimmick for very long. some one will die while the driver looks for the correct buttons. surprised the NHTSA hasn’t stomped on it yet…just have not found any value for the pax seat in this car. this is not a car for a passenger to ride in, maybe if you sold E-tickets for the ride along as you would probably scare the crap out of anyone sitting to your right.

          1. That should be directed at touch screens! I was referring to the ‘great wall’.

          2. don’t see a need for passenger comfort concerns in a two seat car. I won’t be sitting in the pax seat. what do I care? If the desire is pax comfort, get a Bentley.

  2. The spy shots and hype didn’t do much to get me excited about this, but I like the end result a lot.

  3. I’m not in the market for one and likely will never be, but to me it feels like they had something kind of unique, and went to something that is less distinctive with the switch to midengined.

    It looks fine, I’m sure it will be amazingly fast, and cheap for the performance.

    But in my head, it lost personality

    1. Right there with you. I feel like a significant amount of the Corvette’s charm (especially the C6 and C7, with how track-weapon-y they could be) has been that it was a front-engine, rear-drive, pushrod-V8 blue collar (…relatively) sports car that could roll up its sleeves and tell a Porsche, “hold my beer”. This does look like it should still provide the fantastic performance bargain that the Corvette has been good at doing, but it’s going to take me a while to get used to the more “exotic” character. Maybe it would have been different had the Corvette gone mid-engined way back when it was first being toyed with (and when such a layout was rarer), but now, I have to agree, it’s lost some personality, ironically, for going to the more “exotic” layout.

      Having said that, I am glad that GM was willing to do this and that it looks like they’ve made a good go of it!

      1. Maybe they can ditch the back seats and turn the Camaro into more of a junior Corvette?

      2. Be a cold day in hell the dealers let one go for less than $84,995.00 as they know an option cow when they see one. If the base engine was a decent supercharged V-6 with above 300hp, and no radio but with air and many speed dsg, I would consider it. but they are all going to be optioned cows looking for a place to moooo. not to forget that little add-on tag with the words “local market adjustment” with five figures after the words.

      3. Be a cold day in hell the dealers let one go for less than $84,995.00 as they know an option cow when they see one. If the base engine was a decent supercharged V-6 with above 300hp, and no radio but with air and many speed dsg, I would consider it. but they are all going to be optioned cows looking for a place to moooo. not to forget that little add-on tag with the words “local market adjustment” with five figures after the words.

      4. “Stingray” moniker had a real cache and the design had presence in the showroom. it sold well. couldn’t even call this thing “minnow”, and then there is the rear end “styling”. It is so bad it sucks hard enough to pull the slime from the bottom of the canal. It looks like the front end of the camaro after the crash barrier testing. and how high up will the front end be off the ground when in roadable configuration???

  4. The new Vette is a handsome car, and I am confident that it has performance numbers to match its looks. Here are my congratulations and best wishes to the GM engineers who created this beauty, and included are my hopes that (this time) they got to overrule the Bean Counters where it matters….

    Although I bitch about GM, deep deep in my soul I am still an American Boy®️ and I wish them well with this launch.

  5. They’ve also announced it will be sold in Australia. I’m guessing somewhere around AUD$120-130 here as an absolute minimum, including taxes which is between the base Cayman and the S. Good news, and unexpected given no RHD Camaro.

    I’ll wait to see the pictures on a larger screen, but the styling seems very busy to say the least. The ‘studio’ images exacerbate this over the outdoor ones and the real photos from the launch, not sure why manufacturers persist in using CGI stuff (or photos so heavily manipulated they might as well be CGI).

      1. Japanese/California styling queues just will not die a deserved death. are they going to build it on the old Fiero assembly line? looks like it would fit nicely…with the nose sitting so low, don’t they believe someone will drive one on a public street?

  6. That long row of buttons between driver and passenger is such a ridiculous idea, I wonder how it made it through to the final car. The idea of ergonomics in cars is to place everything where you’d a) expect it or b) easily get used to it. A gazillion buttons in a vertical row is just mocking that idea to the extreme. Probably tops a screen, but it still made me laugh.

    1. Also, for a rear-mid-engine, rear drive car, why is the transmissiontunnel so huge, given that the transmission itself is likely behind the seats? Are they planning a 4WD variant? 😉

      1. The chassis of the car is mostly bonded aluminum with some minor carbon fiber panels. The central tunnel is part of the car’s aluminum backbone structure.

        1. without which the car would have the longitudinal and twisting strength of a 1964 corvette convertible on wagon trail in the mountains of Colorado.

  7. That LT2 is still an overhead cam-design engine.

    Either I missed something or Jeff was up late.

  8. I like it. A lot. Yes, the mid engine layout it is in some way walking away from its front mid engine heritage and traditional aesthetic. But, the Corvette has always been a halo car for Chevy and in some ways for the American auto industry. And in particular since the introduction of the C4, it’s been chasing the idea of exotic car performance for blue collar money. They’ve pursued that goal as far as they could with the front engine layout and this is the next logical step to that objective.

      1. The loss of a manual really saddens me.
        These super car/hyper-car mfgs keep citing the fact that the automatics shift so much faster, and return much better fuel economy – well duh. An old 700R4 probably shifts quicker than I do, but that’s not the point. If it’s supposed to be a driver’s car, let me be the driver.

        But what do I know, I’m just a 43 year old man who thinks and acts likes an 83 year old – now get off my lawn.

        1. difficult to put a clutch in a car with lots of power that will be abused by a lead footed fool and warranty the thing without losing your shirt. not forgetting the linkage for the gearbox and clutch that goes around the engine. Americans do not care for cable shifted transmissions or clutches; they barely put up with a hydraulic link for the clutch. as it sits, one wonders how many coolant leaks it will have in the first six months of street driving. does it really need power assist steering?
          GM in general has a poor record of meeting customer expectations for the first model years of a products life. I give you the 1982 Camaro and also any model year pontiac aztek. I had never before sat in a car that could launch it’s cigar lighter from the front dash receptacle into the back window shelf and catch it on fire. Impressive.
          the russians used to ship Mig fighters to its client nations lacking front line aviation equipment the russian frontal aviation regiments couldn’t operate without. they called them the “monkey models” for short. I think that is what GM is trying to pawn off on us with this thing, a monkey model whose eventual lackluster performance with out $55K worth of optional goodies they will blame on “government requirements”.
          the C-7 vette was good. better is always the enemy of good and you should never waste good.

  9. Finally! Corvette came out with a world class sports car. Only took GM 60+ years. I like it! This will be a real competitor on the track.

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