The 2020 Corvette Stingray is a car that’s been decades in the making. It’s one that a famous GM engineer — Zora Arkus Duntov, often called the father of the Corvette — tried to slip past Chevy’s bean counters, but could never convince them that it was a viable option. Why is the 2020 Stingray so different from previous incarnations of the model, and is it really the best Corvette ever?
The Mid-Engine Dream
This iteration may be the first mid-engine Corvette to roll off the assembly line for the general public. However, the idea behind it dates back to 1959 with the Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle, or the CERV I. It didn’t look anything like the Corvette as we know it today, though. It was an open-wheeled single-seater that put the engine behind the driver instead of in the front of the vehicle. It looked like it would be a better fit for a Formula One track than the average U.S. highway.
The 2020 Stingray is the first mid-engine sports car available for Corvette fans, but what makes it so special?
Hugging the Road
Moving the C8’s engine to the middle of the frame doesn’t just give it the room to generate a massive amount of power — it also improves the car’s already legendary handling. The mid-engine positioning shifts the vehicle’s center of gravity, meaning that it hugs the road like it grew from the asphalt. Most sports cars are front-wheel drive, which means they have a tendency to understeer at high speeds. The mid-engine doesn’t have that problem.
Some industry experts have found a few tweaks to make the handling even better — such as shifting the alignment so that the tops of the tires lean in to compensate for the high g-force body roll that the C8 can generate. That adjustment, plus a slight lowering of the tire pressure, helps the mid-engine car grip the road. These changes aren’t going to help your gas mileage at all, but they’re a great option if you want to mod the C8 for use on the track.
Looking at the Specs
If the mid-engine aspect of the C8 isn’t enough to make you run to the dealership, the specs will probably sway you. Under the hood, it comes equipped with a 6.2L LT2 V8 engine that cranks out 490 horsepower. You can add five more horses and crank the torque up to 470 lb-ft by upgrading to the performance exhaust. It’ll manage 0 to 60 in less than three seconds, making it one of the fastest sports cars on the market today.
If you were worried about this supercar getting hobbled by an automatic transmission, fear not. There is no automatic option for the C8 Corvette. Your only choice is an eight-speed manual, which is something that Corvette will be ecstatic about. It’s got a top speed of 194 miles per hour, and you can bring one home for less than $60,000. What’s not to love?
Even bumpy roads won’t stop the Stingray. It uses a MagneRide adaptive suspension system instead of traditional hydraulic shocks or struts. The magnetorheological fluid in the suspension changes viscosity, depending on the needs of the driver. It can get thicker or thinner, thanks to magnetic currents controlled by the car’s computer. Drive on bumpy dirt roads or smooth highways — your ride will still be comfortable and quiet.
If you’ve ever wanted to feel like you were behind the wheel of a race car, the C8 is going to be your dream. The mid-engine placement means that the driver’s seat is nearly a foot and a half further forward than your typical cockpit. Speaking of cockpits, the C8 design gets its inspiration from fighter jets, so expect sleek lines, bright lights, titanium exhaust and everything you’ll need to live out your “Top Gun” dream without ever leaving the ground.
2020 Car of the Year
With all the bells and whistles that you’ll find behind the wheel of the C8 Corvette, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that it earned the coveted 2020 Car of the Year title from Motor Trend. Reviewers adore the C8’s quality interior, its quiet ride and it’s superb handling, among other things, making it a shoo-in for the title.
In the words of Motor Trend’s International Bureau Chief Angus MacKenzie, “It brings the Corvette closer to the Porsche 911 in terms of being an attainable and credible 24/7 supercar than any time since the ’60s.”
The 2020 C8 Corvette might be the first of its kind, but it isn’t going to be the last supercar in Chevy’s arsenal. The new LT2 V8 is just the beginning. In addition to the performance package you can upgrade to now, industry experts expect to see Z06 and ZR1 performance versions of the Stingray in the future. We might see more Corvettes with the Car of the Year title before too long.
The Greatest of All Time?
Is the 2020 Corvette Stingray the best Corvette ever? The general consensus is yes. We’ve been waiting a long time to see the mid-engine Corvette move out of the experimental phase and into something tangible. It gives you everything that you expect to see in a supercar, from power and handling to comfort, safety and a cockpit inspired by the fighter jets we all wanted to fly as a kid.
Many people might be hesitant to buy into the new mid-engine Corvette simply because it’s the first of its kind. Some buyers prefer to wait a year or two to let the manufacturer work out all the bugs before investing in a new supercar like the C8. You don’t have to worry about that as much with this new Stingray. The mid-engine sports car has been in the works for nearly 60 years. If they haven’t worked the bugs out by now, they probably never will. If you’ve been dreaming of adding a new Corvette to your collection, now is the perfect time to make that leap.