After what seems like forever (and after seven generations) the new mid-engined (like a Ferrari) Corvette C8 is finally here. It was unveiled last night in California in a huge airplane hanger by astronauts, and it's the first Corvette with this configuration where the engine is mounted behind the seats. Chevy experimented with the idea decades ago, but it's now a production reality for all the world to behold.
The 2020 Chevy Corvette still manages to look like a Corvette C7 in the back with its angular taillights. But the rear haunches are even more noticeable thanks to huge vents in the doors and rear quarter panels. The quad pipes get moved from the center of the tail to the outboard positions and take on a square shape. The front end combines elements of the C7, a Ferrari F430, with a touch of McLaren. The proportions are different because of the engine configuration with the rear glass more sloped as a result.
The engine is a powerful naturally-aspirated (non-turbo) 6.2-liter LT2 naturally aspirated V8 engine that makes 490 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque, and 495 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque with the optional Sport exhaust. Sadly, there will be no manual transmission (the C7 had a 7-speed manual), and it will only get an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. 0-60 should come in under 3 seconds. That's supercar fast.
The biggest shocker of all? The price will be under $60,000 for exotic levels of performance. There isn't a single mid-engined car that costs this little and provides so much. Only the Porsche Cayman 718 is cheaper but has the same setup with way less power. Add in the Z51 package and get an adjustable suspension to change the stiffness and the ride height, as well as adding a front splitter and that big spoiler you see here in the photos.
Another huge change other than the location of the engine is the radically different cabin, which has received its fair share of criticism for its odd looks. Aside from the F1-style steering wheel, there's a huge center tunnel on which a long row of ascending control buttons rises. The C8’s instrument cluster is now all digital, versus the C7's analog setup. There's now a big 12-inch infotainment screen angled toward the driver, too. Shifting is now done via buttons, which we can't say we're especially excited about, but it's the way of the world. At least there are paddle shifters mounted to the wheel.
Tons of real leather and metal make their way into the cabin construction, and there's available carbon fiber and aluminum trim to go with six interior colors. There's a new feature that will automatically lift the nose based on GPS locations. The rear trunk can manage two golf bags (try that with your Ferrari), and the front trunk (frunk) can handle a carry-on bag and a laptop bag, as well. Who says you can't travel with a 'Vette? Btw, the roof panel also comes off and can fit into the trunk.
Over the air updates will be available for the new C8, much like how Tesla does things now. There's also wireless induction Qi phone charging and a nifty new version of the Corvette's Performance Data Recorder that will save your lap times and other relevant performance information. The new 'Vette is state of the art for the price, and even exceeds our expectations for the 8th-generation of America's favorite sports car. The fact that it's even still alive after poor C7 sales is a testament to how much GM loves the Corvette.
The fact that GM finally pulled off a mid-engined Corvette is remarkable for $60K. Sure, there will be more aggressive versions coming (a Grand Sport or a ZR1, perhaps?), but supercar performance for barely more than a Toyota Supra is just nuts and proof that the brand cares about Corvette in a big way. We can't imagine the profit margin is big, and they may even come out in the red on their halo car. The C8 will go into production later this year and sell as a 2020 model.