Chevrolet pulls out the stops, reveals next-generation Corvette at historic Hangar 2 in Tustin
The world is on fire for the next-generation Corvette. I know you know this because you have access to the internet and you love cars. The elevator speech for the 2020 Chevrolet Stingray is short, sweet, and powerful:
- 0-60 in under 3 seconds with the Z51 performance package
- Pricing under $60,000 (not sure how much that is going to cost, but if C7 pricing is any guide my guess is $5k+)
At the reveal the crowd cheered on point #2 and practically brought the house down on point #3. Mess with the engine placement all you want, but do not screw with the secret sauce — state-of-the-art technology, world-class performance, and reasonable pricing. Did GM hit the mark? Survey says ding-ding-ding!
To Boldy Go Where No ‘Vette Has Gone Before
The long-anticipated debut of the first mid-engined production Corvette was not just an event. It was a celebration of American exceptionalism timed to hit the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. GM rented out the Hangar 2 on the site of the former Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) El Toro base, steeped in about the same amount of tradition as the Corvette.
Why the unprecendented change to mid-engine? Because the limits of the FR layout had been reached. Because progress. #becauseamerica.
History-making astronauts Mae Jemison and Scott Kelly and GM EVP Barry Engle were on hand to walk the audience through the long-standing history of astronauts piloting Corvettes dating back to the Mercury space program. The underlying positioning in the interstellar references throughout the night was clear. Why did Chevrolet mess with a good thing? Why the unprecendented change to mid-engine? Because the limits of the FR layout had been reached. Because progress. #becauseamerica.
The Big Reveal
At the appointed time in the presentation with the crowd at the perfect Right Stuff high, the 2020 Stingray hurled itself out into the known universe. Its angles were highlighted by the visually arresting Torch Red color — later two other Corvettes would take to the stage, appropriately in Arctic White and Elkhart Lake Metallic Blue.
This is a great-looking Corvette. I joined many other enthusiasts in wondering how the designers at Chevrolet could manage the herculean task of completely changing the engine configuration while still preserving the Corvette look, especially considering the collective appreciation for the highly-evolved design of the outgoing C7.
Would the 2020 Stingray still look like a Corvette? Or would it be another super-fast mid-engine car that just kind of falls flat design-wise (here’s looking at you, new NSX). After admiring the C8 for over and hour in person, I am in the camp that says give those Chevy designers a raise and the summer off.
The new Corvette punches far above its weight from a design perspective.
The new Corvette punches far above its weight from a design perspective. The new styling up front and in back is Corvette with a dash of Ferrari (up front) and Camaro (taillights). On the side I’m seeing a dash Lamborghini Aventador SVJ, particularly due to that angular “Carbon Flash” vent accent that is screaming to be made in carbon fiber. Every angle exudes speed, of the state-of-the-art kind.
I can already imagine a C8 Corvette owner parked next to a super-exotic car at the local cars and coffee show. Walk by and you’d hear them end every statement with, “…and I still have a hundred grand to spare.”
Pedal to the Metal
The engine placement isn’t the only change in the drivetrain department. The engine itself is new. The next-generation LT2 6.2L small block will make 495 horsepower and 470 lb-ft torque, the most power for any base Corvette. It is the only naturally-aspirated V-8 in the sports car segment.
The mid-engine layout allows for lower placement of the LT2 and lower center of gravity for improved handling. Chevrolet apparently went over everything with a fine-tooth comb on the C8. The list of upgrades and changes includes many firsts, such as:
- Left Hand Drive (LHD) for export markets
- Engine-mounted dry sump oil system and three scavenge pumps for improved track performance
- Factoring appearance into every part in the engine bay, since its now visible through the rear glass hatch
- Front suspension lift that raises ground clearance by approximately 40mm at the front bumper in 2.8 seconds (lots of cheers by Corvette owners for this one, no more replacing front splitters after a Costco run)
- A cockpit that is 16.5 inches forward and envelops the driver
- A “smart mixed-materials strategy” featuring stiff and lightweight main structure of six high-pressure diecast aluminum parts, carbon fiber, and proprietary fiberglass and resin mixture that work together to increase rigidity, lower weight, and reduce vehicle noise
- Specially-engineered Michelin Pilot Sport all-season tires that can pull 1G
The list of changes is long, but bottom-line is this is a totally new car from bow to stern. It should be quicker and nimbler than its predecessor, and I can’t wait to drive it. On a track, preferably.
The list of changes is long, but bottom-line is this is a totally new car from bow to stern. It should be quicker and nimbler than its predecessor, and I can’t wait to drive it. On a track, preferably. I’ve been fortunate enough to flog the C6 and C7 Corvette’s around the Bondurant Racing School’s track over the years (back when they were a GM-backed school). The C8 screams to be tested at a track to fully experience its capabilities, which is why when I saw my friend from Spring Mountain I congratulated him for the invasion of students they will no doubt be hosting. C7 ZR1 owners get a 2-day class included, methinks that will apply someday to the much-hoped-for C8 ZR1 when and if Chevrolet decides to make it.
The Lap of Luxury
Uncomfortable seats were a kind of rite of passage for Corvette owners for the better part of 20 years prior to the last generation of Vettes. That was addressed in the outgoing generation and is set to be water under the bridge with the 2020 Stingray. In fact, buyers will have three seat choices: GT1, race-inspired GT2, and track-focused Competition Sport. The GT2 and Competition Sport include carbon fiber trim, leather inserts, and heating and ventilation.
The interior design is cutting edge, with a driver-centric cocoon emphasized by a literal separation between driver and passenger. Underneath the large screen and shifter are cupholders, a storage bin, and a unique raised wall control buttons that you’d normally find under the traditional center entertainment/HVAC control stack.
In addition to upscale materials like carbon fiber, Napa leather, and real metal (aluminum and steel to be specific), Corvette drivers will be given plenty of ways to customize the interior of their new pride and joy. They will have six interior color themes, six seat belt colors, and two optional stitch packages to choose from. This is a particularly satisfying part of the online configurator experience, take it from me.
A Win for Chevrolet
While all of this enthusiasm is fantastic, and national pride is a great thing, let’s not kid ourselves. Chevrolet didn’t invest zillions of man-hours and dollars into the 2020 Stingray just to send positive vibes out into the universe. The Corvette customer base prior to Thursday was aging and the competitive universe was getting more and more fierce.
It was time for Chevrolet to make a bold play for “conquest” customers. In plain-speak: it was time for Chevrolet to make a vehicle that would draw some folks who would have normally scoffed at the Corvette, or any car not already their favorite, into the fold. Think of your friends who swear by their 911s and M3/M4s and who will be swearing by their new Supras a year from now. The C8 Corvette was tailor made to make these folks think twice about dismissing the domestic sports car option.
Think of your friends who swear by their 911s and M3/M4s and who will be swearing by their new Supras a year from now. The C8 Corvette was tailor made to make these folks think twice about dismissing the domestic sports car option.
I don’t need to see the sales numbers to know that Chevrolet has already won on this front. My social media accounts are full of customers who I’m positive do not own a Hawaiian shirt (for the record, I own more than a dozen) and have never considered owning a Corvette. Many of these friends are like me — children of the ’80’s who grew up with the JDM cars of the ’90’s and who have skewed heavily Euro as they graduated from working in the dorms to working in corporate America. For these guys and gals to be configuring new Corvettes and asking how to get on the list to get one ASAP, that’s huge.
I’m excited to get an opportunity to jump behind the wheel and see for myself if the Corvette lives up to its stats on paper. In the meantime, the internet no doubt will be full of new facts, figures, spy shots, and rumors to keep our newfound Corvette curiosity piqued.
For more information on the 2020 Corvette, visit Chevrolet.com.