The father of the Chevrolet Corvette, engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov, had the idea in 1957. Some 63 years later it’s become a reality: The Corvette is now a mid-engine car.
The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, the so-called C8 generation, has switched to a mid-engine design in a quest to elevate America’s sports car to supercar performance.
The 2020 Corvette earns a 7.0 TCC Rating based on its performance and available features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
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With the switch to the mid-engine design comes a new form factor. Rather than a long hood with a set-back cabin and a short deck, the new Corvette has a shorter hood, with the cabin moved 16.5 inches forward and a longer rear deck that makes room for the engine. Traditional Corvette cues are still there, like the familiar face that recalls the C7 and C6 generations, the low-set headlights, the removable roof panel that can be stored in the rear trunk, and the fighter-jet-inspired lines. However, new elements such as larger front air intakes and massive air ducts in front of the rear wheels point to its mid-engine design.
Chevrolet also makes the engine part of the design. It can be seen through the rear hatch, and Chevrolet says it has taken care to optimize the appearance of every bolt, fastener, tube, and wire like you’d see on a motorcycle.
The Corvette is available with just one engine and one transmission, for now, and it marks the end of the manual transmission in the Corvette. The engine is the LT2 6.2-liter V-8 with a new aluminum block. It makes 495 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque when ordered with the Z51 package or 490 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque in base form. The engine features direct injection, dry sump lubrication (a first for a base Corvette), and cylinder deactivation.
An electronically controlled 8-speed dual-clutch automatic that can be shifted manually via steering wheel paddles is the lone transmission. Chevrolet says the transmission has a low-ratio first gear to take advantage of the V-8’s power, close-ratio gears 2 through 6, and tall 7th and 8th gears for improved highway fuel economy. EPA fuel economy ratings of 15 mpg city, 27 highway, 19 combined are similar to those of the outgoing car.
The combination of more power and traction afforded by the rear-engine design makes the C8 the fastest base Corvette ever. Zero to 60 mph takes 2.9 seconds with the Z51 package, according to Chevrolet, a feat that was previously reserved for the supercharged Z06 and ZR1 models.
The interior gives drivers a new viewing angle. The dash and hood sit lower, which creates better sight lines, and the driver grips a new squared off, small-diameter steering wheel. Buyers have a choice of three seat designs, all with leather upholstery, called GT1 (standard), GT2 (sportier), and Competition Sport (track focused).
The new design robs the Corvette of some of its former hatchback utility. Between the front and rear trunks, it has 12.6 cubic feet of cargo space. That’s only 2.4 cubic feet less than the C7 Corvette, but the smaller size of the two bins means larger items won’t fit. Chevrolet says two sets of golf clubs will fit, but those would have to be some short, Playskool clubs.
So far, Chevrolet has announced the Corvette in coupe and convertible body styles in only the Stingray model. Three trim levels—1LT, 2LT, and 3LT—are offered, as is the optional Z51 package. Standard equipment includes a 12.0-inch customizable digital instrument cluster, an 8.0-inch center touchscreen for infotainment, eight-way power-adjustable sport seats, leather upholstery, a 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot, a 10-speaker Bose audio system, a power tilt and telescope steering column, remote start, and 19-inch front and 20-inch rear alloy wheels. Important features available on higher models include wireless smartphone charging, GM’s Performance Data Recorder that can take video of track laps, a 14-speaker Bose audio system, a front lift system that uses GPS to mark locations to raise the nose, memory for both seats, a heated steering wheel, six interior colors, two interior stitching packages (yellow and red or gray), and 12 exterior colors.
The Z51 Performance Package comes with a performance-tuned suspension with threaded spring seats to adjust the coil-over dampers, bigger brakes with the Z51 logo on the calipers, additional cooling, a unique axle ratio, front brake cooling inlets, and the performance exhaust. Z51 buyers can also order the Magnetic Selective Ride Control dampers.
The 2020 Corvette starts around $61,000 and it can approach $90,000 with the full boat of options. Look for higher-performance models like the Grand Sport, Z06, and ZR1 in the future.