The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is the first mid-engine Vette in history.
With an LT2 Small Block V8, the new Stingray is the fastest entry-level Vette ever.
Prior to its on-sale date, the performance car will embark on a cross-country tour.
Yes, you did just feel that. That was the automotive world shifting on its axis. Chevy just dropped the Corvette for 2020, and normally an all-new Vette is a big deal, but this new Corvette, the C8, is a revolution that has been a long time coming. Nearly 60 years, as a matter of fact. In the late 50s, engineers figured out that, from a performance standpoint, the best place to put the engine is right in the middle. This eventually made its way into production sports cars and today, everyone from Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Porsche, and even boutique makers like Koenigsegg know that if you’re going to go fast, you have to put the engine in the middle.
Everyone, that is, except for Chevrolet.
2020 Chevy Corvette Stingray: Finally, The Mid-Engine Vette
Up until a few days ago, the top of Chevy’s performance mountain, the Corvette, maintained a staunchly old school layout of front engine/rear drive. Many puzzled as to why this is, and even more criticized GM for sticking with this route. As good as the C7 is – and make no mistake, it is a very, very good car with world-topping performance – it was still behind the potential performance curve.
GM has been teasing us with a mid-engine Corvette since 1971. There have been design studies, show cars, production what-ifs, the lot. Some in silver, some in blue; there was even a triple rotor, Wankle-powered mid-engine Vette that was going to be produced “next year.” Or perhaps the year after that. For sure. But it never happened.
Some chalked this up to GM’s inherent corporate conservatism. I was one of them. For as good as the Corvette got, it was, for a long time, not a Serious Sports Car. There were too many compromises and they went on for far too long. For decades it was a car that looked fast, but was hamstrung by design compromises. GM’s time off the line with their flagship was second tier, sometimes even third tier when stacked against the competition.
“If GM was serious about performance,” said all the gearheads and railbirds, “they’d make it mid-engine.” And now, for whatever the reasons, GM has finally heard our pleas and taken the wraps off the eighth generation Corvette for 2020. If the numbers hold, GM will not be in the top tier of performance supercars, they will hold the top spot. The main factors concerning the mid-engine C8 are the engine, the transmission, where everything sits and, very happily, the price.
Power & Performance: No Manual For The Next Generation
At the heart of the 2020 Stingray is Chevy’s next-gen, 6.2-liter Small Block LT2 V8. It’s naturally aspirated and will produce 495 horsepower and 470 lb-ft. of torque. Healthy numbers, to be sure, and, indeed, the most horsepower and torque for any entry-level Corvette. Yet, that’s the bottom of the performance ladder. It goes up from there.
Next, the gearbox. The new LT2 plant is mated with Chevy’s first eight speed dual-clutch transmission. Yes, just like the ones you find in Ferraris and Porsches and, more importantly, race cars. There will be no manual option, except by means of steering wheel paddles. The transmission was designed in-houseby GM and TREMEC and is unique to the 2020 Stingray. Chevy says the 2020 Corvette Stingray will hit 60 in less than three seconds with skidpad figures coming in over 1.0 Gs.
Less Is More
No, that does not exactly blow Ferrari et al. away, but the C8 is effectively tied for first, if not outright leading. But here’s the number that does obliterate the competition: $60,000. That is the starting price. It is about half what a Porsche 911 goes for. It is about 75 percent less than a Ferrari 488. Do the thought experiment: you have $60,000. Do you put a down payment on a Porsche or a Ferrari, or do you want an entire car? A car that can be serviced in any one of five thousand dealerships.
A car that, and I’ll guarantee this, will have a blazing hot heater and an ice cold AC system.
Say what you want about the Germans and the Italians; and the Japanese and the British and what they are capable of doing, but Chevy just did the same thing, And they did it for the price of a luxury crossover. Everyone else in the world might be able to keep up with, or beat the C8 Stingray on a strip or road course or on a mountain road (maybe); but I seriously, seriously doubt anyone in the world will beat it on price.
The 2020 Chevy Corvette Stingray goes into production at Bowling Green Assembly later this year. Additional pricing and packaging information will be available closer to launch. When it hits the market, the new Stingray will come in 12 exterior colors, six interior color themes and seat belt colors, and two optional stitching packages. If you simply cannot wait, a new digital tool, the Corvette Visualizer, lets you design your dream mid-engine Vette in vivid detail.
The 2020 Corvette Stingray will embark on a cross-country dealership tour leading up to its on-sale date. Corvette specialists, along with the vehicle and numerous other displays, will stop at over 125 dealerships nationwide, as well as major consumer events.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz.