When Chevrolet announced that the iconic Corvette could finally get a real mid-engine redesign, starting with a sub-$60,000 sticker, the news seemed almost too good to be true. Finally, a true mid-engined American performance car within reach of the average enthusiast, rather than Ford’s impressive but unobtrusive GT.
The C8’s design, however, caused some consternation due to an angular, showy exterior and a unique interior that wraps the driver in an ergonomically deficient cockpit. And yet, more than two years after the first Corvette deliveries hit the market, I still found myself very excited to test drive one and find out if this borderline budget-focused supercar lives up to its promises for a while. so many decades.
Well equipped at nearly $90,000
Sure, Chevrolet shipped me a Corvette Stingray maxed out with the 3LT and Z51 option packages, along with Magnetic Selective Ride Control (Mag Ride) suspension and even a front-axle lift setup. All the goodies add up to almost 50% more over a base Corvette, resulting in a total price of $88,225, including a destination fee of $1,295.
- Body Style: Coupe, Convertible
- Powertrain layout: Mid-Motor, RWD
- Seats: 2
- Toppings: 1LT, 2LT, 3LT
- Original Base MSRP: $60,900
- Engine/Motor: 6.2 liter V8
- Power : 495 hp
- Couple : 470 lb-ft
- Transmission: RWD
- Transmission: 8-speed DCT
- Mid-engine balance and handling
- Customizable riding modes
- Supercar performance at an incredible price
- Ventilated bucket seats
- Angular exterior design
- Uncomfortable interior ergonomics
- The options add up quickly
Mounting a dry sump V8 amidships
Simply put, relocating the engine behind the cockpit of the C8 transforms America’s most iconic sports car into a borderline supercar. This 6.2-liter LT2 V8 features dry sump lubrication to prevent oil starvation in tight corners and develops 495 horsepower, compared to the “base” model’s 490 horsepower thanks to the Z51’s upgraded exhaust. . Those numbers might not sound terribly impressive considering Dodge’s absurd Hellcat Hemis, but the V8’s placement and linear low-end torque, which peaks at 470 lb-ft, allow for a 0-60 time in less than three seconds. Chevy also added an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transaxle and electronically controlled limited-slip differential to get that power to the ground efficiently.
The power goes to the back
The powertrain stats sound great on paper, but a sharp turn in the C8 reveals how much the mid-engine takes a metaphorical (and somewhat literal) backseat for driving dynamics. With Mag Ride set to the most aggressive mode, a set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires measuring 305 millimeters at the rear inspire enough driver confidence to generally allow perhaps a little more throttle off the tops than recommended. Even with traction control fully engaged, breaking the rear end a little feels both easy and predictable.
Even better, the Mag Ride can also be softened for city riding – playing around with the different settings for steering weight, brake feel, shift points and exhaust note gave me some many opportunities to personalize my ride during my two weeks with the C8. Around town or digging canyons, the impressive system almost completely masks a relatively high curb weight of 3,647 pounds.
All adjustable for playing the violin
Unfortunately, the current system for messing with these drive modes left me wanting better most of the time. A weird dial with a leather cover controls various presets, but navigating between modes causes massive lag on the 12-inch touchscreen. The gauge cluster actually displays changes more quickly, switching displays for information such as tachometer, speedometer and tire pressure. I ended up customizing the aptly named My Mode for city riding, which allowed me to select the firmest steering weight with everything else comfortable. On every aggressive driving occasion, I used the Z button on the steering wheel to push all the options to the max.
Z-mode and track mode indicate potential on the right track for C8 buyers, as does a g-force meter, built-in stopwatch and data logger. But clicking Z Mode also causes a bit of frustration, as the computer reverts to a default mode of Tour Mode, rather than My Mode, where the lightest steering option almost looks like a boat and is disconcerting.
Questionable interior ergonomics
The rest of the interior reveals similar compromises between eye-catching design and performance potential. An upgraded seating package sporting heavy-duty bolsters to hold the driver and passenger in place through tight corners (and on my 3LT, solid air conditioning venting). But the layout of the buttons on the center console simply baffles the mind, designed entirely for a fault.
Pros include a surprisingly square steering wheel which I loved (other than a weirdly small space above the flat bottom), plenty of headroom, great use of exterior cameras given the minimal visibility, and the gauge cluster itself. I certainly don’t need the targa-style removable roof though, and the storage inside the cockpit also seems like an afterthought (especially the vertically mounted wireless phone charging station behind the armrest) . All the features definitely contribute to the weight of the C8, which stands out the most under hard braking – despite the upgraded Z51 brakes I experienced a bit of a fade even on public roads so can’t recommend to take them to a real track situation without spare pads or rotors.
How to specify a C8
Still, I returned the Corvette absolutely blown away by the level of budget performance, convinced that Chevrolet somehow crammed 70% of a McLaren 600LT into a package that costs a quarter to a third of the cost. With similarly priced competition limited to Porsche’s 718 Boxster and Cayman siblings, as well as the forthcoming Lotus Emira, buyers in the market need only decide if they can live with the style.
Would I buy one? The design and ergonomics make me think seriously. If I did, a stripper 1LT with only the optional Mag-Ride suspension added seems like the best bet, but then I lose creature comforts like the ventilation of my beloved seat.
Probably the best attribute of the C8, if Chevy reps told the whole story, is for today’s insane auto market – apparently you can easily get a “basic” Corvette, probably because everyone wants to wait for the most desirable Z06, hybrid and electric versions. . However, these upcoming variants will likely receive few interior design changes, and dealer prices will likely eclipse six figures with ease, nearly ruining the economics that make the current Stingray so appealing in the first place.
The truth remains, however, that throwing serious power into such an impressive chassis seems almost too good to be true, especially with the Z06’s slick exterior design. Surprisingly, despite the interior layout, the C8’s front and rear trunks allow for solid storage capacity, so stay tuned for our next video focusing on the mid-engine Corvette’s capabilities and comfort when it’s used as a daily driver.
Sources: chevrolet.com, youtube.com, michelinman.com and porsche.com.
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