Test Drive column: 2020 Corvette Stingray
Entry price: $59,995
Price as tested: $89,560
Talk about an exciting week! Thanks to the good folks at Chevrolet, my turn to finally test drive the all-new generation C8 Corvette finally arrived and I’ll tell all right now it’s one of the most impressive cars I’ve ever driven. Prior to this Corvette experience, it was a Porsche Carerra 911 that I test drove 10 years ago that held the top slot when asked which of the cars I tested was most impressive.
But that’s all changed as this Corvette, which starts at just $59,995 in entry 1LT livery, is now the car to beat and stands atop the long list of test drives that started back in 1994.
Riding on an all new mid-engine architecture with numerous functional air ducts to help cool and deliver air to the 495-horsepower 6.2 liter LT2 V8, the exterior design delivers a classic European supercar look that had some people wondering if it was a new Lamborghini or Ferrari. Numerous onlookers with phones in hand took hundreds of photos and videos and it seemed no matter where we took the Corvette it caused a crowd of onlookers that couldn’t control their admiration. By the time Chevrolet came to retrieve my tester, I had added 500 miles to the odometer during my week log test.
Delivered in Accelerate Yellow Metallic ($500 extra) in 2LT preferred equipment dress ($6,800 more), our Corvette was one of the first convertible models to arrive in the GM media pool. The convertible takes about 18 seconds to open and/or seat electronically, and if you are going 30 mph or less you can operate the top both up and down while on the road. The convertible model has a base price of $66,400 versus the coupe’s $59,995, both outstanding values for a supercar status mid-engine Corvette. (C8 equates to Corvette’s eigth generation since the C1 series debut in 1953).
This new design offers excellent front vision with a pronounced cab forward look thanks to where the engine now sits and a small rear trunk stretch. There are LED lights all around and the motif offers more passenger and legroom than the C7 generation it replaces. The seats also recline a bit more than the C7s and six seat belt colors are available. Very comfortable seating is standard fare on all of these new Corvettes, and our tester added to the seat factor with a GT2 bucket seat upgrade that adds $1,495 to the final tally. Overall, the interior is outstanding.
Corvette fans have been waiting for this mid-engine Corvette for over 25 years. The mid-engine design was the hope of Zora Arkus-Duntov, the Godfather of the Corvette who knew true sports car “supercar status” included a mid-engine design. And, being that all cars are complicated machines by nature, this mid-engine reality included a total engineering redesign of power delivery that the European supercars have perfected. The re-shuffle from front engine, rear drive theory to mid-engine delivery included what I feel was just one of Corvette’s main mechanical engineering challenges, i.e., developing a trans-axle to handle gobs of power with even more to come. Thanks to a Tremec and GM co-op, the new eight-speed dual clutch automatic shifts perfectly as Corvette successfully accomplished the task. Further, there is no manual transmission available so Corvette and Tremec had to get it right to appease those who like to shift. Thus, instead of the left leg and right hand in unison, you’ll be moving your factor fingers via paddle shifters when manual mode is selected. To sum up the Tremec transaxle success, it’s similar to an Indy Car where the engine sits directly behind the driver and then via the transaxle delivers the shifting and axle movement as a single unit to turn the rear wheels. (Very impressive if not something new to high performance supercars … just new to the Corvette).
The overall advantage to mid-engine technology is better weight distribution, resulting in this Corvette handling better than anything I’ve driven before it. It also allows Corvette a “multi-personality” discipline thanks to six driver select modes. Included are Touring, Sport, Weather and Track, which are all Corvette software implemented, while personal modes with driver preferences make up the final two of “my mode” and “Z.”
Tour mode delivers a soft ride and better fuel mileage while Sport and Track modes enhance the performance factors. The fifth “my mode” personalizes steering and suspension while the sixth “Z” mode allows for changing engine and transmission parameters. Whatever mode you choose will show up on the 12-inch display cluster in a different design. My favorite is Track mode, but when cruising I used Tour mode that allowed the Corvette to run in four-cylinder economy and deliver 27 or more MPG highway … an awesome accomplishment. In the city, expect 15 MPG, and remember the great highway numbers eliminated any chance of a gas guzzler tax.
And it’s this special multi-dimensional character of the C8 that impressed not only me, but the many who were fortunate to ride in the C8. Everyone was impressed with the Tour mode comfort, and when you switched over to Track mode and gave a zero to 60 run, (with a timer in the display showing how many seconds it took), the G-forces pinned them in the seat big time. Expect your time to be anywhere from 2.9 to 3.2 seconds depending on initial traction and the coolness of the weather. As for the disc brakes, anticipate excellent Brembo stopping power thanks to the Z51’s six-piston front and four-piston rear setup working in conjunction with Michelin Pilot 19-inch front and 20-inch rear run flats that assist in bringing the C8 to a halt.
Front visibility is very good, although the rear is hindered. There’s also a blind spot thanks to the large B-pillar if you need to look back left or right, but excellent side mirrors and in-car cameras front and rear help ease this concern.
The new design features lots of air ducts, radiator air intakes and rear diffusers, and I really like the rear exhaust placement. The steering wheel is square (loved it) and offers a quicker steering ratio than the C7.
Our tester included the Z51 Performance Package where for $5,000 more you receive performance exhaust, better brakes, upgraded suspension and performance axle ratio. Also featured are a Z51 rear spoiler, the aforementioned Michelin tires and a heavy duty cooling system. I highly recommend the Z51 package, which then allows the buyer to order the $1,895 Magnetic Ride Control which is not available unless you specify the Z51. (For 2021, you will be able to order the Magnetic Ride sans the Z51 package necessity.) Regardless, the Z51 is expensive but adds the sporty upgrades that are a big part of Corvette’s racing heritage.
The 6.2 liter overhead valve V8 is the LT2 version of the former C7 LT1 that produced 455 horses. Numerous changes include a better breathing intake, factory headers, new cam profile, lighter flywheel and a few other tweaks that move horsepower up to 495 horses with an 11.5-to-1 compression ratio. Lubrication comes from a dry sump racing style oil system which removes the need for a larger oil pan and allows the engine to sit lower in the cradle. This is another positive when it comes to a better center of gravity and handling advantages.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 107.2-inches, 3,467 lb. curb weight, 18.5-gallon fuel tank, combined 12.6 cu. ct. of cargo space, and it will run the quarter mile in 11.2 seconds at over 120 mph. Five other aesthetic-based options pushed the final tally to $89,560 with $1,005 delivery included.
In summary, ponder this: if you drive from New York City to Los Angeles in the C8 Corvette, you don’t have to worry about where you might need service as a Chevrolet dealer is nearby. If you need service in your Lamborghini or Ferrari, good luck.
Exotic, thrilling, even comfortable … that’s the all-new, 2020 mid-engine C8 Corvette.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and Gannett Co. Inc. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.