There isn’t a red carpet. No bright lights and paparazzi. No caviar or Kardashians. Instead, we’re in dirt parking lot in rural Michigan. It’s just us and the best-performing Corvette of all time. We’ve just driven the all-new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray C8, the first mid-engine production Corvette ever.
Many enthusiasts have wanted a mid-engine Corvette for decades. Yes, decades. Moving a sports car's engine behind its driver improves its weight distribution, balance, and performance, and Chevy has teased mid-engine Corvettes since the 1960s. The Corvette has been America’s best-selling sports car for nearly 70 years, but its engine has always remained up in the front. Until now. The historic change elevates the performance and image of the new Chevy Corvette to true supercar levels — and for the first time in many years, “America’s Sports Car” is ready to take on the best from Ferrari, Lamborghini, and McLaren.
Priced From $59,995
This is the Corvette’s eighth generation (C8 for short), and like its predecessor, it’ll be built in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The 2020 Chevy Corvette Stingray also continues the model’s legacy of offering extreme visual appeal and performance at a much lower price than its European and Japanese rivals. Prices start at just $59,995, including a $1,095 destination charge, making it the most affordable V8 mid-engine sports car and an incredible high-performance bargain. It’s even less expensive than last year’s model.
Every new Corvette has two seats, rear-wheel drive, and a new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters. A manual transmission is unavailable. Chevrolet does offer the sports car as a Coupe with a removable roof panel or a Convertible, which has a retractable hardtop for the first time. Under its hood is a 6.2-liter V8 putting out 490 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, so it’s also more powerful than last year’s Stingray. Our test car included the optional $5,000 Z51 Performance Package, which adds a dual-mode exhaust system that increases engine output to 495 hp, special magnetic ride control shocks, an electronic limited-slip differential, and larger brakes. With all its options, our uplevel 3LT test car cost $88,310.
Radical Exterior Design
There’s been some controversy about the exterior design of the new Corvette since Chevy unveiled photos of the car a few months ago. The internet debate continues to rage about its new mid-engine proportions, which have pushed its passenger cabin forward. Some love it, while others have ranted that it looks too much like other supercars and not enough like a traditional Corvette.
Well, it’s better-looking in person than it is in photos. A lot better. Chevrolet's design team has done a wonderful job at including just enough traditional styling cues from Corvettes of the past while going in a completely different design direction. Yes, its tall rump and angular details keep it from being classically beautiful, but its low, wide stance, large side scoops, and sleek silhouette grab plenty of attention on the road. People don’t just notice the 2020 Corvette, they freak out over it. Little kids stop to watch it drive by. Teenagers take pictures of it with their phones.
Incredible Power and Acceleration
Sports car enthusiasts who like their machines small and light will find the new 2020 Chevy Corvette to be a bit burly for their taste. It’s a few inches longer and 2 inches wider than the C7. It’s also heavier at about 3,650 lbs. This is no Lotus Elise. But it’s also packing nearly 500 hp along with incredible traction, now that the engine’s weight is in the back pushing down on its rear tires.
Calling the new Corvette quick is like saying Tom Brady knows how to throw a football. Use its launch control and it rockets to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds. That kind of acceleration doesn’t put a smile on your face — it distorts your facial features. It also makes this the quickest Corvette in history, leaving the most powerful Corvette of all time, last year’s tire-smoking front-engined 755-hp Corvette ZR1 in the dust. And it’s as quick as any Lamborghini, Ferrari, or McLaren, while the Corvette costs hundreds of thousands of dollars less.
Refined Engine and Transmission
Of course, a quick Corvette isn’t news. What is surprising is the refinement of its engine and transmission. The Corvette’s all-aluminum LT2 V8 isn’t exactly state-of-the-art. There are no turbochargers. No double-overhead cams. Just like every Corvette engine since 1953, it still has pushrods. Don’t worry about any of that. It’s a fantastic engine, remarkably smooth, with awesome amounts of bottom-end torque. It also comes on strong above 3,000 rpm, pulls hard to its 6,400 rpm redline, and sounds great.
A nicely weighted metal knob beside the Corvette’s push-button shifter allows you to dial in feel and performance, depending on your mood and the driving environment. There are six drive modes: Weather, Tour, Sport, and Track, plus My Mode and Z Mode, which allow some program customization. Sport and Track increase the weight of the Corvette’s steering, tighten its suspension, quicken its throttle response, and intensify the actions of its very well-calibrated eight-speed transmission. They also crank up the engine’s rumble, which is a bit too subdued in Tour mode.
Drive it hard on a twisty two-lane road, and the 2020 Corvette Stingray feels smaller than it is and surprisingly light on its feet. With its new rear-weight bias, the sports car changes direction with racecar reflexes.
The C8 Corvette corners incredibly flat, and its massive 19-inch front and 20-inch rear Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires offer serious amounts of grip. Cornering forces will test your neck muscles, but the Corvette's ability to put its power down on corner exit seems to defy physics. Its traction feels endless. Braking performance is also strong, and the Corvette’s steering is quick. It’s a bit distant at slow speeds, but the entire car feels better the faster you go, and there’s more steering feel when you pick up the pace.
Funky But Well-Built Interior
Like its exterior, the cabin of the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette has also been the subject of much internet debate. Its push-button shifter, oddly squared-off steering wheel, digital gauges, and funky strip of buttons on its console have fired up the haters. But it all works in the real world, and the originality of its design is inarguable. In fact, it’s the best Corvette interior ever. It’s well-appointed, it's nicely constructed, and it looks cool. The seat is comfortable and the driving position is perfect.
Some of its ergonomics look more challenging than they really are. When you're driving the car, its secondary car control placement isn’t a problem. The Corvette’s infotainment and navigation systems are also intuitive, and its touchscreen dominates its dash. Every Corvette comes with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto connectivity. A tilting and telescopic steering wheel is standard. Rear visibility can be a challenge, but it’s less of an issue with the electronic rearview mirror camera that’s standard on the 2LT and 3LT trims.
Comfortable to Drive Every Day
Chevy has long understood that the Corvette has to get you to work every day and happily blast across three states on the weekends. Moving its engine to the middle of its chassis hasn’t changed that. This is a supercar you can drive to work or across the country very comfortably. In Tour mode, its steering is light, its ride is smoother than you would expect in a car with this level of performance, and its interior is shockingly quiet.
Every Stingray Coupe also comes with an easily removed and lightweight roof panel. It takes about a minute to unlatch it and store it in the trunk. Yes, there’s a trunk. Two, in fact — one in the front and one in the back. Cargo space is huge for a sports car at 13 cubic feet.
Surprising Fuel Economy
Few people buy a Corvette for its fuel economy, but this sports car is surprisingly fuel-efficient considering its high levels of performance. And its economy numbers are the best in its class. The 2020 Corvette Stingray is rated by the EPA at 16 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.
For comparison, the V10-powered Lamborghini Huracan Evo is rated at 14 mpg city and 21 mpg highway and the Acura NSX, which is a hybrid, is rated at 21 mpg city and 22 mpg highway.
The Ultimate Corvette
Special higher-performance versions of the Corvette have been available since the late 1950s, and that’ll be the case with the new mid-engine Corvette in the near future. Word is that Chevy’s engineers are working on models with more extreme exterior styling, power, and handling, probably with names like Grand Sport, Z06, and ZR1. There’s talk of a double-overhead-cam V8 with over 600 hp, turbochargers, all-wheel drive, and even a hybrid version with nearly 1,000 hp.
Although the new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray will eventually be the tamest of the modern Corvette models, its extreme performance will thrill anyone, and its comfort and practicality are well beyond any other car of this type. Overall, it’s the greatest Corvette that Chevy has ever produced, and its bang-for-the-buck value is off the charts. It’s one of the best sports cars in the world.