It’s perhaps the most controversial car of the year and it’ll divide opinion for decades to come – the all-new, mid-engined 2020 Corvette Stingray.
Controversial because of the switch from a classic front-engined, rear-wheel-drive layout to the mid-engined format. Not that there’s any surprise in that. It became clear the change was going happen years ago and the internet has recently been groaning under the weight of snapshots of prototypes seen testing. And let’s not forget that Chevrolet has been toying with the idea of a mid-engined ‘Vette since the original was launched 66 years ago.
At least the traditionalists can’t complain about the C8’s engine – a 6.2-litre, naturally-aspirated V8 smallblock LT2 unit pumping out a fullsome 495bhp and 470lb/ft of torque, sent to the rear wheels via a new eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
Add the Z51 pack (including a sports exhaust along with adjustable suspension, uprated brakes and cooling, and a shorter final drive ratio) and the C8 will sprint from 0-60mph in a scant 3.0secs. And that’s the entry-level model.
As you’d expect, not everyone is happy about the C8 ‘Vette’s styling, either. It’s angular and covered in wings, slashes and vents, as was the C7. But the proportions are bit generic and from some angles we’re seeing quite a lot of Ferrari F430.
It all serves a purpose, though, the aero addenda generating up to 180kg of downforce. Underneath, there’s a clever electronic diff, optional magentic adaptive suspension and dry sump engine lubrication system – the C8 should be capable of some eye-popping lap times. Yet the chassis isn’t especially fancy, being made from aluminium on cost grounds.
There are many driving modes to choose from – Weather, Tour, Sport and Track. The driver can also set up their own configuration with MyMode, and then there’s Z mode. According to Chevy, Z mode is a one-shot deal that opens up engine and transmission settings to really stretch the ‘Vette out.
Which is all very well for the few owners that will actually take their car on a track day. But the fact is that most Corvette owners are more likely to be found at a golf club. So Chevrolet has made sure there’s enough space for two sets of bats. Indeed, between the rear boot and frunk, there’s 357 litres of space. The rear boot also houses the targa roof panels when going open-top.
Inside, the focus is entirely on the driver. In front is a 12in digital instrument panel with the infotainment touchscreen placed little more than a hand-stretch away. Though it’s position may make it difficult for the passenger to operate. In fact, that passenger could well end up feeling rather isolated, separated from the driver by a massive centre console topped by a long strip of buttons in a bridge-thing that runs down from the dashboard.
Still, at least it looks like the interior is made from much better materials. Previous Corvette interiors always looked like there made from the same plastic as wheelie bins. There’s loads of kit, too, including wireless ‘phone charging, Bose stereo, heated steering wheel and on-board cameras.
The price for all this? Less than $60,000 for the base model. Which is pretty astonishing value given the performance available. And it’ll be available in right-drive-hand form on this side of the Atlantic.
By Graham King