Three years ago we caught our first blurry glimpse of an early C8 Corvette prototype, heavily covered in camouflage. Now, the covers are finally lifted on this, the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. This is nothing less than a paradigm shift for America's iconic sports car, bringing to life the vision of a mid-engined Corvette first conceived by Zora Arkus-Duntov over a half-century ago. Numerous mid-engine prototypes have surfaced through the decades, with a few of those nearly getting the green light for production. With 60 years of anticipation, the million-dollar question now is whether the C8 was worth the wait. Considering Chevrolet says you can step into this car for less than $60,000 (approx £48,000 at the current exchange rate) in the U.S., all indications point to a resounding yes .
It’s been a long road:
Pricing aside, the stats suggest it's off to a good start as well. As speculated, the engine sitting behind the passengers is a 6.2-litre V8, derived from the LT1 that powered the C7 Stingray but it’s basically an all-new beast. That mill is now dubbed LT2, due to the design changes required for mid-engine duty and for the increase in power it received.
Speaking of, the 2020 Stingray makes 490 bhp – 495 bhp with the optional Z51 Performance Package – which is a considerable jump over the 460-bhp LT1. There is some disappointing news for manual transmission enthusiasts, however. That power is handled exclusively by a new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic, though you can still swap cogs at will with paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. And yes, it still goes exclusively to the rear wheels.
What does this mean for performance? Actually, it's pretty impressive. When equipped with the aforementioned package, Chevrolet says the new Stingray can rip to 60 mph in less than three seconds. Quarter-mile or top speed figures aren't yet known, but if you're a Corvette fan, you'll know the current C7 ZR1 hits the 60-mph mark in 2.8 seconds. That means, at least in a short sprint, the new base-model C8 runs side-by-side with the most powerful factory-built 'Vette of them all. That's a very good way to launch a new model.
The inside view of the C8 leaked prior to the reveal, but we have a better look now. The new mid-engine layout gives the Corvette a completely fresh greenhouse with a pair of digital displays for the instrument cluster and infotainment system. The wraparound arrangement looks quite cozy and driver-centric, with a beefy centre console separating the driver from the passenger. And something of a surprise in this age of clean lines – fans of buttons will love the veritable drag strip of manual controls nestled in the C8's centre spine. Some might find the buttons – which operate the Corvette's climate functions for the dash and seats – to be unsightly. However, there is something to be said for simply pressing a switch as opposed to navigating a display.
How close were the renderings?
Speaking of which, the C8 is certainly a completely new vehicle from the ground up but underpinnings are somewhat familiar. The previously mentioned Z51 Performance Package adds beefier brakes and cooling, not to mention an exhaust system with a bit more bellow to its bass and the five extra ponies for the engine. As for the handling, coilovers are found at the corners with an electronic steering system to guide the car around corners. Magnetic Ride Control is available as well, and it can be controlled through four driving modes from the previous model as well as two new modes. Among them is something called Z mode that offers full customisation of all settings. The electrics are all part of the C8’s new digital vehicle platform and electronic architecture that, among other things, will allow over-the-air updates for the C8’s computer systems.
Even though the engine is now in the middle, the C8's overall exterior design isn't a tremendous departure from the C7. It turns out the numerous renderings we've seen over the last year were pretty close, with forward-canted side intakes not unlike those used on the mid-engined Corvette Indy and CERV III concepts being the dominant exterior feature. As with previous Corvettes, the roof can lift out for an open-air experience. The front end can also lift to better clear obstacles, and for road trips, there's enough storage in the frunk for a couple small overnight bags.
In the back you can fit a reasonable suitcase, or perhaps more befitting the typical Corvette buyer, a pair of golf bags. And here's a bit of good news for UK folks – Chevy plans to build C8s with the steering wheel on right side of the car, too.
Considering just how significant a change this is for the Corvette, there's all kinds of room for the C8 to be a disaster. Thus far everything seems rather impressive, but perhaps the most shocking news of all is the price. We haven't been given a firm figure just yet, but GM estimates for the U.S. market only the C8 Stingray will start at less than $60,000. That’s just a bit more than the C7’s starting figure, which means the Chevrolet Corvette could well remain the bang-for-buck performance champion of the world.
Gallery: 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
CHEVROLET INTRODUCES FIRST-EVER MID-ENGINE CORVETTE
2020 Stingray is the fastest, most powerful entry Corvette
TUSTIN, Calif. — Today, Chevrolet fulfills the long-term promise of the iconic Corvette with the introduction of the 2020 Stingray, the brand's first-ever production mid-engine Corvette. The sum of everything that came before it, the 2020 Stingray is re-imagined to bring customers new levels of performance, technology, craftsmanship and luxury.
From front- to mid-engine, in under three seconds
The new mid-engine layout gives the 2020 Stingray:
- Better weight distribution, with the rear weight bias enhancing performance in a straight line and on the track.
- Better responsiveness and sense of control due to driver positioning closer to the front axle, almost on top of the front wheels.
- The fastest 0-60 time of any entry Corvette ever — under three seconds when equipped with Z51 Performance Package.
- A race car-like view of the road due to lower positioning of the hood, instrument panel and steering wheel. Excellent forward sightlines throughout the vehicle for both driver and passenger.
- An enhancement of Corvette's traditional utility strengths, with dual trunks for a total of 12.6 cubic feet of cargo volume, ideal for luggage or two sets of golf clubs
Design inspired by racing and aeronautics
Some additional design touchpoints include:
- Low profile headlamps designed around all-new projectors.
- Completely hidden door, hood and hatch releases do not disrupt the sculpted design.
- Large side air intakes for engine cooling and aerodynamic performance.
- A-pillar shape that communicates speed and assists in visibility.
- Large rear hatch that showcases the engine with seven air vents.
- Quad exhaust tips located on the vehicle's outboard ends.
- Dual-element LED taillamps with animated turn signals.
True to its aeronautical and racing roots, the 2020 Stingray's canopy-forward stance was inspired by F22s, F35s and other modern fighter jets and Formula One racing. Other classic Corvette signatures adapted to the Stingray include a distinctive face that communicates the purpose of the vehicle's mission, a classic horizontal crease, aggressive front fenders and familiar positioning of the dual-element headlamps.
- A cockpit that has not only migrated forward by 16.5 inches, but envelops the driver, conveying the high performance and aeronautic theme
- Vertical climate controls and ultra-thin vents minimize the height of the instrument panel, creating a low, spacious interior.
- A new, squared-off, two-spoke, small diameter steering wheel that enables an unobscured view of the 12-inch reconfigurable cluster display
The 2020 Stingray boasts premium interior materials executed at a high level of quality and craftsmanship:
- Hand-wrapped, cut-and-sew leather components with thick press stitching.
- Generous use of real metal.
- Stainless steel speaker grilles with Bose Performance Series audio system.
- Carbon fiber trim on the GT2 and Competition Sport Seats.
- The choice of either real aluminum or real carbon fiber for console and door trim plates.
Customers can create their own design statement, with the most personalization options ever for Corvette:
- 12 exterior colors — Torch Red, Arctic White, Black, Blade Silver Metallic, Shadow Gray, Ceramic Matrix Gray, Long Beach Red, Elkhart Lake Blue and Sebring Orange — plus three all-new colors: Rapid Blue, Zeus Bronze and Accelerate Yellow.
- Six interior color themes: Jet Black, Sky Cool Gray, Adrenaline Red, Natural/ Natural Dipped, Two-Tone Blue and Morello Red.
- Six seat belt colors: Black, Blue, Natural, Torch Red, Yellow and Orange.
- Two optional stitch packages: Yellow and Red. Standard black interiors have Sky Cool Gray stitching.
Three seat options:
- GT1 – a sporty style that emphasizes comfort while providing good support for performance driving situations. Features Mulan leather trim, optional two-way lumbar support and wing adjustment.
- GT2 – a first for Corvette, these seats have a racing-inspired look with comfort for long trips courtesy of dual density foam. They include carbon fiber trim, a Napa leather insert, Mulan leather bolsters, a jet black-painted seat back, two-way lumbar support and wing adjustment, plus heating and ventilation.
- Competition Sport – designed for the serious track-focused driver, these seats include aggressive bolsters, full Napa seating surfaces and carbon fiber trim on the headrest, heating and ventilation, along with an all-new durable performance textile inspired by Kevlar vests.
Engineered to be a true supercar for every day
"Our mission was to develop a new type of sports car, combining the successful attributes of Corvette with the performance and driving experience of mid-engine supercars," said Tadge Juechter, Corvette executive chief engineer.
The tunnel-dominant approach offers many advantages, including:
- Improved torsional rigidity with a solid, connected feel on both the road and track.
- Outstanding ingress/egress for a mid-engine vehicle. Unlike some competitors, there's no need for oversized rocker panels to bear structural and load weights, making it easier to enter and exit the vehicle.
- Excellent stability due to a low center of gravity and outstanding handling.
- Preservation of Corvette's beloved standard removable roof panel, which can easily be stored in the rear trunk.
- A front storage compartment that can fit an airline-spec carry-on and a laptop bag.
- Availability in both left- and right-hand-drive variants — a first for Corvette.
- Smart packaging with improved cabin comfort, including an additional inch of rearward seat travel and almost double the reclining angle.
The all-new Corvette Stingray is built with a smart mixed-materials strategy, enabling key features such as:
- A strong, stiff and lightweight main structure of six high-pressure diecast aluminum parts, also known as the Bedford Six, which are manufactured at GM Powertrain in Bedford, Indiana. These minimize the number of joints within the vehicle, making a stiffer structure that aids in handling and track cornering.
- Industry-first carbon fiber curved rear bumper beam for weight reduction.
- Front and rear trunk tubs and dashboard molded from ultra-lightweight "float" derived from fiberglass and a proprietary resin. The material is so light that it can actually float in water. It works with other fiberglass and carbon fiber variants to lower mass and reduce noise and vibration.
Handling: core to Corvette's fun-to-drive DNA
"Thanks to sophisticated suspension geometry, tailored tire technology and exquisite attention to structural details, we have improved ride and handling," said Juechter. "No Corvette has ever felt so comfortable, nimble and yet completely stable."
The new Stingray features coil over dampers that create entirely new ride and handling characteristics. The mid-engine architecture allows for a short, straight and stiff steering system, coupled with an updated electronic steering system, making the driver's chassis input instantaneous.
The new seating position places the car's center of gravity close to the driver's inside hip, so the car literally turns around the driver. It completely changes the perception of vehicle handling and responsiveness.
Other ride and handling upgrades include:
- Steering ratio improved from 16.25:1 to 15.7:1.
- New eBoost brakes that are more precise and tunable.
- The first sports car application of Michelin's all-season performance tire that can corner at nearly 1G.
- Front suspension lift that raises ground clearance by approximately 40mm at the front bumper in 2.8 seconds, protecting against bumps, potholes, steep driveways and other road disturbances. It can operate at speeds up to 24 mph and be programmed to work automatically through GPS to remember up to 1,000 locations.
- Launch control aided by the rear weight distribution, enabling the new Stingray to get off the line quicker than any Corvette in history.
- Z51 Performance Package, which introduces a host of new technology to the 2020 Stingray:
• Performance suspension with manually adjustable threaded spring seats.
- An electronic limited slip differential integrated into the transaxle that modulates torque between the rear tires, enabling incredible vehicle stability.
- A front splitter and open two-piece rear spoiler that add up to a combined 400 pounds of downforce while improving grip when cornering.
- Available Magnetic Ride Control 4.0, which reads the road better, providing more precise data through suspension-mounted accelerometers. Its improved electronics respond faster and more smoothly to driver inputs and contribute to class-leading ride quality.
- Available Performance Traction Management.
The jewel in the center
"Though now placed behind the driver, the LT2 gives the same visceral experience we all expect from Corvette," said Jordan Lee, GM's global chief engineer of Small Block engines. "The LT2 has been designed to deliver excellent low-end torque and high-end power to give thrilling pedal response at any RPM."
The powertrain's low position enables a low center of gravity for optimal handling. Perhaps the biggest update is found in the lubrication and ventilation system. For the first time ever, the base Stingray will use an engine-mounted dry sump oil system and three scavenge pumps for improved track performance.
During serious track driving, oil volume remains high to avoid diminished performance. The new Stingray's lateral capability is greatly improved, so the LT2's dry sump lubrication system had to be redesigned to provide exceptional engine performance even at lateral acceleration levels exceeding 1G in all directions.
A lightweight, 3.2mm-thick glass panel on the rear hatch allows owners to show off the engine. This panel features a cantilevered trailing edge to evacuate heat from the LT2 engine compartment.
Other notable engine characteristics include:
- Jewel-like setting in the rear compartment, visible through the rear glass hatch.
- Every part, including the exhaust system's wires, tubes, routing fasteners, coolant hoses, exhaust manifold and even the bolts and fasteners, is built with appearance in mind. All engine components were given careful consideration just like the exterior, and even the heat shields are textured.
- A brand-new block and vent system. The centerline of the crankshaft sits an inch lower to the ground where it mates to the transaxle for better handling.
- Low-profile oil pan that reduces mass.
- Oil cooler capacity increased by 25 percent.
- Standard edge Red valve covers.
A shift of a different kind
Paddle shifters allow drivers to choose a specific gear. "The performance shift algorithms are so driver-focused, they can sense when you're doing spirited driving — regardless of driving mode — and will hold lower gears longer for more throttle response," said Juechter.
The new Small Block V-8 has a torque curve optimized to take advantage of the bespoke DCT's lightning-fast shifts. Engineers set the DCT up with a very low first gear to leverage the additional traction to get the car off the line quickly, and its close-ratio gears 2 through 6 keep the engine near the power peak on track. Tall seventh and eighth gears make for easy long-distance cruising with low mechanical stress and excellent fuel economy.
The DCT is mated to a new Electronic Transmission Range Selector. With this electric shifter there's no mechanical interface between the shift lever and the transmission. The Corvette's electric shifter incorporates two pull toggles for Reverse and Drive and push buttons for Park, Neutral and Low/Manual. The shifter has been designed to be more attractive and compact than a standard shifter. All-new technology improves performance and usability
- MyMode, a configurable setting for preferred driving style that can remain between key cycles.
- Z mode, named after the famed Z06, ZR1 and Z51 Corvette performance packages, is activated through a "Z" button on the steering wheel. This is a single-use mode that takes MyMode configurations one step further, allowing drivers to adjust the engine and transmission as well.
The 2020 Stingray benefits from GM's new digital vehicle platform, an all-new electronic architecture that enables the adoption of the company's next generation of technologies. The architecture minimizes wiring while allowing for faster signal transmission between different vehicle systems and the higher resolution screens. The platform enables continuous vehicle improvements through over-the-air updates and enhanced cybersecurity measures.
Other new technology features include:
- Corvette's next-generation infotainment system is faster and simpler, with a higher resolution display.
- Chevy-first one-touch Bluetooth pairing with Near Field Communication.
- Wireless charging.
- Learn-as-you-go voice recognition.
- Improved real-time traffic.
- A new, 12-inch customizable instrument cluster tailored to all six driver modes.
New electrical features include:
- Driver and passenger seat memory.
- Heated steering wheel.
- Tire fill alert warns the driver when tire meets maximum pressure.
- Two new Bose audio systems: a 10-speaker standard premium system and available 14-speaker Bose Performance Series system. Speaker grilles are integrated into lower door trim for a refined look that also helps guard against damage from footwear.
- The industry-pioneering Performance Data Recorder, an advanced driving analysis tool upgraded with high-definition resolution camera and a new, in-vehicle user interface. Customers can record both circuit and point-to-point road courses. The PDR can be set to auto-record like a dash cam that starts a recording every time the Corvette is running, or configured to only start when the car is set to Valet mode.
Attainability remains a hallmark
The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray goes into production at GM's Bowling Green Assembly in late 2019. Additional pricing and packaging information will be shared closer to launch.
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