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2020 Chevrolet Corvette Preview

  • Mid-engine layout promises better rear-wheel traction
  • Fast as the dickens
  • Corvette lines work with new form
  • Improved outward visibility
  • Could be more engaging to drive
  • Performance was already paramount
  • Less usable cargo space
  • What's the price?
  • Where's the convertible?
  • We always recommend the Z51 package for those who want more performance and its optional Magnetic Ride Control dampers should deliver that without a ride penalty.

The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette already has the acceleration figures, and the new mid-engine layout may lead to a more engaging driving experience if not faster track times.

The father of the Chevrolet Corvette, engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov, had the idea in 1957. Some 62 years later it’s become a reality: The Corvette is now a mid-engine car. 

The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, the so-called C8 generation, has switched to a mid-engine design in a quest to elevate America’s sports car to supercar performance.

With the switch to the mid-engine design comes a new form factor. Rather than a long hood with a set-back cabin and a short deck, the new Corvette has a shorter hood, with the cabin moved 16.5 inches forward and a longer rear deck that makes room for the engine. Traditional Corvette cues are still there, like the familiar face that recalls the C7 and C6 generations, the low-set headlights, the removable roof panel that can be stored in the rear trunk, and the fighter-jet-inspired lines. However, new elements such as larger front air intakes and massive air ducts in front of the rear wheels point to the mid-engine design. 

Chevrolet also makes the engine part of the design. It can be seen through the rear hatch, and Chevrolet says it has taken care to optimize the appearance of every bolt, fastener, tube, and wire like you’d see on a motorcycle.

The 2020 Corvette is built around a new six-piece aluminum structure that puts an emphasis on a stiff center tunnel. To save weight, it has a carbon-fiber rear bumper beam, and the front and rear tubs and dashboard are molded from fiberglass and resin. Double-wishbone suspensions with coil-over dampers are found front and rear, and the Z51 package offers GM’s Magnetic Selective Ride Control dampers as an option.

While the outgoing Corvette has a perfect 50/50 front/rear weight balance, the new car puts more weight on the rear axle, likely more than 60 percent. That has its advantages, especially when it comes to traction for the large rear tires. The design changes the car’s center of gravity to near the driver’s inside hip, so the car feels like it’s rotating around the driver, according to Chevrolet. The new design also allowed Corvette engineers to use a short, straight, and stiff steering system that also has a quicker 15.7:1 ratio (down from 16.25:1), which should provide more of a direct feel.
All-season Michelin Pilot Sport ALS tires are standard, and Chevy says they can handle close to 1 G of lateral grip. The Z51 package uses Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires. Both are sized at 245/35R19 up front and 305/30R20 at the rear. They cover 4-piston front and rear Brembo brakes, 12.6 inches up front and 13.6 inches in the rear for the base Stingray and 13.3 inches up front and 13.8 inches in back for cars with the Z51 package.

Chevrolet is launching the car with just one engine and one transmission, and it marks the end of the manual transmission in the Corvette. The engine is the LT2 6.2-liter V-8, an evolution of the LT1, that features a new aluminum block and now makes 495 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque when ordered with the optional performance exhaust system. Chevrolet has not shared power numbers without the optional exhaust. The engine features direct injection, dry sump lubrication (a first for a base Corvette), and cylinder deactivation.

An electronically controlled 8-speed dual-clutch automatic that can be shifted manually via steering wheel paddles is the lone transmission. Chevrolet says the transmission has a low-ratio first gear to take advantage of the V-8’s power, close-ratio gears 2 through 6, and tall 7th and 8th gears for improved highway fuel economy. Fuel economy ratings are not yet available.

The combination of more power and traction afforded by the rear-engine design make the C8 the fastest base Corvette ever. Zero to 60 mph takes less than 3.0 seconds, according to Chevrolet, a feat that was previously reserved for the supercharged Z06 and ZR1 models.

Chevrolet offers six drive modes for the new Corvette, up from four. In addition to Weather, Tour, Sport, and Track, it has two new configurable modes: MyMode and Z mode, the latter of which adds adjustments for the engine and transmission.

The interior features a new viewing angle for Corvette customers. The dash and hood sit lower, which creates better sight lines, and the driver grips a new squared off, small-diameter steering wheel. Buyers will have a choice of three seat designs, all with leather upholstery, called GT1 (standard), GT2 (sportier), and Competition Sport (track focused).

The new design robs the Corvette of some of its former hatchback utility. Between the front and rear trunks, it has 12.6 cubic feet of cargo space. That’s only 2.4 cubic feet less than the C7 Corvette, but the smaller size of the two bins means larger items won’t fit. Chevrolet says two sets of golf clubs will fit, but those would have to be some short Playskool clubs.

So far, Chevrolet has announced the Corvette as just the Stingray model with the optional Z51 package. Standard and optional equipment has not been defined, but we know the Corvette will offer a 12-inch customizable digital instrument cluster, a next-generation infotainment system with improved real-time traffic information, wireless smartphone charging, GM’s Performance Data Recorder that can take video of track laps, and a choice of 10- or 14-speaker Bose audio systems. The C8 uses GM’s new electrical architecture that allows for over-the-air updates. Also on the docket are a front lift system that uses GPS to remember when to work, memory for both seats, a heated steering wheel, six interior colors, two interior stitching packages (yellow and red or gray), and 12 exterior colors. 
The Z51 package comes with a performance-tuned suspension with threaded spring seats to adjust the coil-over dampers, bigger brakes with the Z51 logo on the calipers, additional cooling, a unique axle ratio, front brake cooling inlets, and the performance exhaust. Z51 buyers can also order the Magnetic Selective Ride Control dampers.

Look for the 2020 Corvette Stingray to go on sale in late 2019. Prices, standard and optional equipment, and fuel economy information will be available closer to launch.

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