This is it! The all-new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette has finally shed its camouflage and the least we can say is that this car is quite a sight to behold.
The breathtaking front fascia, the exquisite proportions that mark a radical departure from the C7 Corvette and the mid-mounted engine seen through an exotically styled glass panel blew away the 1,500 guests—yours truly included—during the big reveal that took place inside a hangar in Santa Ana, California.
Of course, this first official look at the new C8 Corvette immediately raised a ton of questions. For example, will the outgoing generation stay on the market for a little while? When will the convertible be ready? And how much will the Corvette cost now that it takes on the most exotic supercars from Europe?
First of all, the C7 Corvette will not continue on. If you loved this car, now is the time to get a great deal as Chevy dealers want to sell all remaining units fast.
Second, the new Corvette Convertible will have to wait at least a year, as per tradition. Since the launch of the C4 Corvette in 1983, GM has always delayed the introduction of the drop-top variant as a way to keep building anticipation.
As for the price, GM Canada is already announcing a base MSRP of $69,998. The 2019 model starts at about $65,000, so the increase is fairly negligible given all the changes that were made to the Corvette. Despite its new global aspirations, the automaker would never price its iconic sports car out of the reach of those who have revered and dreamed about it for many years.
The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette uses a completely new approach in a bid to attract customers who would never have considered it otherwise. Market data shows that young buyers very seldom think about the Corvette when shopping for a sports car; they prefer the German brands and Porsche in particular. Chevrolet must appeal to both long-time Corvette enthusiasts and regular people who seek performance, style, luxury and exceptional fit and finish.
About that, the GM reps at the event insisted on the need to have an extraordinarily well-executed cockpit, something inspired by haute couture and the latest tech. The new Corvette offers a selection of interior trim materials ranging from aluminum to carbon fibre, as well as three seat options highlighted by race-style buckets. The interior is also available in six different colours along with several topstitching colours allowing customers to personalize the car to their liking.
Oh, and the targa top is back, of course. That was a demand of previous Corvette owners. Once again, they will have the choice of a body-coloured, carbon-fibre or transparent top.
Inspired from Racing and Aeronautics
As you can see, the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette looks totally different from its predecessors. The long, aggressively style nose is gone, but the prominent fenders are back and the headlights are actually reminiscent of those on the C6 generation. The large tail obviously confirms the presence of a mid-mounted engine, but also transforms cargo management. The C8 Corvette features two separate trunks: one in the front and another in the rear that’s not as capacious as in the past. But don’t worry, you’ll easily be able to fit a pair of golf bags, which was another demand from existing Corvette owners.
It’s hard not to draw comparisons with supercars like the Acura NSX and Audi R8. While these two are much more expensive, they are now direct competitors of the Corvette. Chevrolet has experimented with mid-engine designs for the past six decades, going all the way back to the 1950s. This included two legendary concepts produced in the ‘80s: the Corvette Indy and the CERV III.
Let’s Talk About that Mid-Engine…
While there are still rumours of a turbocharged 5.5-litre V8, possibly with some form of electrification, GM has chosen to retain the 6.2-litre small-block engine for the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette. It’s the only naturally aspirated V8 in the segment and it has been re-engineered to deliver up to 495 horsepower.
For shifting duties, the automaker teamed up with Tremec to develop an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. Sadly, the manual gearbox will no longer be available even though one in five Corvette customers fell for it. Apparently, it was too complicated to fit this type of transmission in the new mid-engine chassis.
The new dual-clutch unit reportedly helps the C8 Corvette sprint from 0-96 km/h in less than three seconds. The centre of gravity has been lowered 10 millimetres, and while the car is a bit heavier now, it achieves a weight distribution of 40/60.
Extraordinary grip and handling are possible thanks to ultra-wide P305/30ZR20 rear tires, first and foremost, but also the engine weighing down on them. This particular aspect is what ultimately convinced Corvette engineers to switch to a mid-engine layout, because there’s a limit to what you can do to improve performance with a front engine and rear-wheel drive combination.
Built on an all-new aluminum platform, the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette features a carbon fibre centre tunnel that increases structural rigidity and allowed designers to incorporate larger doors. The bumper structure is also made of carbon fibre, while the front and rear trunks use an ultra-lightweight resin material.
Z Mode, Baby!
Several performance packages will be available with the new Corvette to meet the needs of the most discerning drivers. One notable feature is called Z Mode and it activates with the push of a button on the steering wheel. Essentially, it modifies the calibration of the engine, transmission, magnetic suspension, steering and driver assists. The exhaust note changes, too, contributing to an even more spectacular drive.
By the way, the letter Z refers to classic Corvette packages including the Z51, Z06 and ZR1. We imagine it’s also a tribute to Zora Arkus-Duntov, the father of the Corvette.
The Z51 package, which many customers are likely to specify, includes manually adjustable springs, bigger brakes, a unique rear-axle ratio, improved cooling for the engine and brakes as well as a louder-sounding exhaust system.
While the new Corvette is the most dynamically capable car ever produced by Chevrolet, GM stresses how comfortable and convenient it can be on a daily basis. We hear the ride is smoother, the cabin is quieter and the car is easier to drive overall.
A Necessary Evolution
Some fans and pretty much all purists will argue that the Corvette we know and love is dead. Even though the new generation borrows a few styling cues from the previous models, the approach is clearly not the same. That being said, we bet Chevrolet will succeed in attracting a greater number of customers, including some who disliked what they perceived to be a negative aura around the Corvette.
Many will rush to secure one of the first few copies that come out of the Bowling Green Assembly Plant in Kentucky, which added 400 jobs in anticipation of stronger demand. Deliveries are scheduled to begin by the end of this year. Dealers will have to handle frustrated customers who will be told to wait for a 2021 model. Then again, maybe the C8 Corvette has a few more surprises in store for them.
If the past is any indication (and why wouldn’t it be?), we will inevitably see more powerful versions and more options in the future. The plan is also to sell the new Chevrolet Corvette in more than 100 countries starting next year, including right-hand-drive models for the U.K., Japan and Australia.