Chevrolet completely reinvented the Corvette Stingray for the 2020 model year. While the first seven generations of the car came with a front-mounted engine, the eighth-generation model switches to a mid-engined layout, a configuration the firm has regularly experimented with since the 1960s but never brought to production. The change promises to make the eighth-generation Corvette better to drive than the outgoing model, yet it doesn’t come with a significant price increase.
Working with augmented reality technology, Chevrolet’s design department retained key styling cues, and the 2020 Corvette Stingray still looks like a Corvette when viewed from the front. The angular design and the swept-back headlights create a visual link between the current-generation Corvette and its successor. However, stylists shifted the model’s proportions dramatically because they didn’t need to carve out space between the front wheels for a jumbo V8 engine. The ‘Vette’s heart beats right behind the passenger compartment, and it inhales through a pair of functional vents behind the doors.
The direct-injected, 6.2-liter V8 engine can be admired through a glass hatch, like a valuable artifact displayed in an upscale museum. It’s tuned to deliver 495 horsepower at 6,450 rpm, and 470 pound-feet of torque at 5,150 rpm when buyers order the optional performance exhaust system. The eight sends its power to the rear wheels via a paddle-shifted eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, but enthusiasts who want three pedals are out of luck. The outgoing Corvette’s seven-speed manual transmission is no longer available, and there’s no indication it will return.
Placing the engine behind the passengers puts most of the Corvette’s weight over its rear wheels. This shift helps make the eighth-generation model quicker than any of its predecessors. Chevrolet pegs its zero-to-60-mph time at under three seconds when it’s equipped with the optional Z51 performance package. Full specifications won’t be released until closer to its on-sale date, though. Of course, quicker variants (including a Z06) will arrive later in the production run.
Moving the cabin forward by 16.5 inches and positioning it a little bit lower than before gives the passengers a race car-like view of the road, according to Chevrolet. And yet, the 2020 Corvette Stingray is better equipped than any of its predecessors. The power-operated seats have a memory function, the steering wheel is heated, a 10-speaker sound system made by Bose comes standard, and the trick Performance Data Recorder technology (which lets motorists record and analyze track runs) remains available. We’re a little bit confused by the row of buttons that separates the cabin, but hopefully it’s something motorists will get used to as they drive the car.
The driver sits in front of a 12-inch, configurable digital instrument cluster. The screen on the center console displays the next generation of Chevrolet’s infotainment system, which is quicker, sharper, and offers real-time traffic information. The passengers can poke the screen, or give it orders thanks to voice recognition technology which gets more accurate over time. Wireless smartphone charging and one-touch Bluetooth pairing are available, too.
Track-ready performance is difficult to argue against, but what happens when owners need to take a mundane trip to Trader Joe’s? The 2020 Corvette has two trunks, one up front big enough to carry a laptop bag and an airline-spec carry-on suitcase, and one out back that’s deep enough for a pair of golf bags, or for the standard removable roof panel. Total cargo capacity checks in at a surprisingly generous 12.6 cubic feet. Usability is further helped by a front lift system that raises the body by about an inch and a half to clear speed bumps and other obstacles. Motorists who drive over the same speed bump on a regular basis can teach the car to lift itself automatically by saving its location in the navigation system, which is a cool use of technology. The system can memorize up to 1,000 lift locations.
Customization is the name of the game in the supercar segment, and Chevrolet is taking this practice to the next level by letting buyers choose the last five numbers of their car’s 17-digit VIN number. Collectors can integrate the date they purchased their car into its VIN number, for example. CarsDirect learned customizing the Corvette’s VIN costs $5,000, so we expect most buyers will happily settle for the identification number generated by Chevrolet’s software.
With the latest tech, a mid-engined powertrain, and a global mission, the eighth-generation Corvette truly is unlike any of its predecessors.
Enthusiasts can already reserve and configure their Corvette online. Pricing starts at $59,995 including a mandatory $1,095 destination charge that covers the process of getting the car from the factory in Bowling Green, Kentucky, to its new home. That figure represents a reasonable increase of about $3,000 over the outgoing, seventh-generation car. The base model comes generously equipped with LED headlights, a digital instrument cluster, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, plus a 10-speaker sound system developed with Bose.
The mid-range 2LT trim level starts at $67,295. It uses the same V8 as the base model, but it gains more tech features like a wireless device charger, and a color head-up display. Finally, the range-topping 3LT trim priced at $71,945 brings creature comforts like leather upholstery. Additional trims and variants will join the range during the Corvette’s production run.
The list of options includes the aforementioned lift system, which Chevrolet priced at about $1,500. It’s only available on 2LT and 3LT models. All Corvettes regardless of trim level can receive the $5,000 Z51 package that ups the V8’s output to 495 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque.
Normally, the rest of the world wouldn’t pay attention to a new Corvette. However, the 2020 Corvette Stingray will be available in right-hand drive for the first time, meaning it will be sold globally. With the latest tech, a mid-mounted engine, and a global mission, the eighth-generation Corvette truly is unlike any of its predecessors.
Updated August 15, 2019: Added pricing information.
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