Will the new mid-engine layout help the ’Vette win Best Driver’s Car?
The mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette feels like other exotic cars, which is a new sensation for anyone familiar with the Chevy sports car. Hopping from Ferrari to Lamborghini to Chevy, the Corvette affirms that we made the right choice last year when we named the C8 our 2020 Car of the Year.
Let’s be clear: The mid-engine Corvette Z51 is a car designed around the driver. Yes, it’s easy to look at the strip of Chiclet-sized HVAC control buttons separating the driver from the passenger and make fun. But once you’re actually behind the C8’s funky steering wheel, you’ll realize that the controls you need as the driver are the easiest to get to, and you’ll thank the car gods that they’re physical buttons, not buried in a touchscreen.
The touchpoints are great, too, even the secondary ones. The steering wheel, the big, metal paddle shifters, the metal transmission buttons, and especially the drive mode puck all feel proper, if not pricey.
The single biggest surprise with the Corvette Z51 was the ride quality. Wow. “On the road, I don’t think anything rode as well as the Corvette did in this year’s field, except maybe the Porsche Cayenne,” road test editor Chris Walton said.
I’d argue the ‘Vette had a finer ride than the SUV. Yes, it’s that supple. Also, Walton knows I’m right, admitting: “I was hoping I’d get assigned the Corvette for the long drive home.” See?
Aside from being comfy, the powertrain rocks. Pro driver Randy Pobst noted the “fat torque curve with a great low end.”
Large-displacement, naturally aspirated V-8s are lovely things, and they’re getting rarer than manual transmissions—the latter of which the C8 Corvette doesn’t offer. The dual-clutch transmission it does have works great if you leave it in automatic, though I personally much prefer pulling the paddles myself. Speaking of working great, the Corvette hits 30 mph in 1.0 second, the same as the AWD Lamborghini. “Incredible traction on launch,” Pobst said. “Claws out!”
Although it was our COTY winner last year, is it the Best Driver’s Car? Hmm. “I guess this Corvette just left me wanting more,” features editor Scott Evans said.
I should point out that the Chevy and the Porsche 911 Turbo S were the only contenders to arrive on regular summer tires, as opposed to stickier, R-compound meats. So that didn’t help, especially on the track. “Even when I was driving it at my 9/10ths in a mid-engine sports car on a proper track, I was bored,” Walton said. “Honestly, bored.”
Did he really say “bored” twice? Yes, we’re spoiled rotten brats. We know. But Walton felt what he felt. I should point out that when Walton was in the alien blood-colored Chevy, I was gaining on him in the Porsche SUV, so I think he was actually so bored he wasn’t really driving at his 9/10ths. Regardless, his point stands—although the Z51 trim is a fine start, we are eagerly anticipating hotter versions.
“The Corvette is not as impressive as I thought it would be,” editor-in-chief Mark Rechtin said. “Sure, it’s still fast, but it’s just the ‘base’ model, which means just wait for the performance models.”
Bingo. If you look at the Porsche 718, you have to get through the Cayman, Cayman S, and Cayman GTS before you arrive at the GT4. There’s a $25K Mustang rental car lurking underneath the GT500’s extroverted armor. There’s also a (slightly) less powerful rear-wheel–drive Huracán to be had.
This Corvette is just the starting point. We know a much sportier, racier Z06 is coming, as well as the rumor-mill all-star Zora. The C8 Corvette has the bones to win Best Driver’s Car, but it’s not there yet.
|POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS||2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Mid-engine, RWD|
|ENGINE TYPE||90-deg V-8, alum block/heads|
|VALVETRAIN||OHV, 2 valves/cyl|
|DISPLACEMENT||376.0 cu in/6,162 cc|
|POWER (SAE NET)||495 hp @ 6,450 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||470 lb-ft @ 5,150 rpm|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||7.2 lb/hp|
|TRANSMISSION||8-speed twin-clutch auto|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Control arms, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F; R||13.3-in vented disc; 13.8-in vented disc, ABS|
|WHEELS, F;R||8.5 x 19-in; 11.0 x 20-in, cast aluminum|
|TIRES, F;R||245/35R19 89Y; 305/30R20 99Y Michelin Pilot Sport 4S|
|TRACK, F/R||64.9/62.4 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||182.3 x 76.1 x 48.6 in|
|TURNING CIRCLE||36.4 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT||3,587 lb|
|WEIGHT DIST, F/R||39/61%|
|HEADROOM, F/R||37.9 in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||42.8 in|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||54.4 in|
|CARGO VOLUME||4.0 (front)/8.6 (rear) cu ft|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||1.4|
|QUARTER MILE||11.1 sec @ 123.2 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||97 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||1.04 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||23.3 sec @ 0.90 g (avg)|
|2.2-MI ROAD COURSE LAP||97.83 sec|
|TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH||1,300 rpm|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$92,365|
|AIRBAGS||4: Dual front, front side/head|
|BASIC WARRANTY||3 yrs/36,000 miles|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||5 yrs/60,000 miles|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||5 yrs/60,000 miles|
|FUEL CAPACITY||18.5 gal|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON||15/27/19 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||225/125 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.03 lb/mile|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Unleaded premium|