How can something so expected turn out to be so incredibly surprising? We knew a new Chevrolet Corvette was coming, and we even knew it would become a mid-engine sports car. But when GM publicly revealed the all-new 2020 Corvette, the car world, as we knew it, instantly changed.
The Corvette we all grew up with is dead. In its place is a near-exotic, technologically advanced Ferrari fighter. This new 8th-generation ‘Vette (dubbed “C8” by the cool kids) features an advanced aluminum structure, can pull over 1.0g on the skidpad on all-season tires, and can run from 0-60 in less than three seconds. Best of all: it starts under $60,000 USD.
With a cost so low, we don’t know how—or even if—GM plans to make money on the C8. Save for the interior door handles, which come from the C7 Corvette, each and every component was made specifically for the C8.
Yes, the engine sitting in the middle of the 2020 Corvette is still based on the Small Block Chevy (SBC). But it’s a brand-new generation of SBC, sized at a massive 6.2 litres of displacement, and tuned to deliver an incredible 495 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. This engine is connected to an all-new 8-speed dual-clutch transmission—the only available transmission—which delivers lightning-fast shifts and full manual control.
What’s truly surprising about this engine, however, is that it’s “just” the entry-level Corvette engine. And if that sub-3-second 0-60 time holds true, it means that this regular Corvette is already about as fast as the current, top-of-the-line ZR1. We can only speculate that when the C8 ZR1 eventually does arrive, its speed and power will be truly terrifying.
Handling, we expect, should be superb. In addition to the obvious weight-balance advantages found by placing the engine in the centre of the car, the C8 Corvette gets a truly modern suspension. The leaf-spring setup found on past Corvettes is gone, which means those “ox-cart” jokes should finally die as well. Helping keep this aluminum body off the ground is a dual-wishbone setup at all four corners. Paying extra for the Z51 package will add the road-sensing Magnetic Ride Control 4.0 suspension system, which adapts instantly to ever-changing road and driving conditions. Brembo brakes up front (and in the rear with the Z51 package), plus massive rotors, help give this 3300-lb. sportscar consistent stopping performance.
That the all-new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette is expected to perform well is no surprise; that it’s also designed to be pleasant to sit in, however, is. Gone is the Fisher-Price-spec interior of Corvettes past. Opening the door of the C8 reveals a cabin swathed in premium materials that include genuine carbon fibre inlays, real metal accents, and leather-trimmed everything. This cabin’s other-worldly appearance is amplified with unique touches like a squared-off steering wheel, a long vertical climate control stack, and fighter-jet gauge pods pointed directly at the driver.
As hardcore as the performance is, GM is also claiming that the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette is well suited for the daily drive. Comfort features like a Bose audio system, memory functions for the driver and passenger seats, a heated steering wheel, wireless charging, and more all come standard. The Corvette’s trunk is large enough to accommodate two golf bags, and the “frunk” (front trunk) has the space to swallow an airline-approved carry-on bag.
That all this comfort and race-bred engineering comes wrapped in a package that looks like a road-going stealth fighter makes the 2020 Corvette impossible to ignore. Yes, on paper, other cars might do one or two things better. But in real life, few cars can match the levels of technology, speed and comfort found in the ‘Vette. And at the price, there’s no car that can compare. A comparably spec’ed Porsche 911, for example, rings in at about $161,800.
The rules of the sports car game have changed, and Chevy’s the one rewriting the rule book. The 2020 C8 Corvette is an enthralling look at what a sports car should be, and we, for one, are excited it’s here—and better than we ever could have imagined.