First Look: 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

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Check these 5 things first | Used Truck Advice | Driving.caPlayCanada’s most efficient trucks in 2021 | Driving.caPlay3 ways to make night driving safer and more comfortable | Advice | Driving.caPlayDriving into the Future: Sustainability and Innovation in tomorrow’s cars | virtual panelPlayThese spy shots get us an early glimpse of some future models | These innovations defined the Corvette as we know it LOS ANGELES, Calif. — When did the good folks at General Motors become such wizards at PR?Ham-handed at times, and occasionally downright counterproductive they can be, but when it comes to the mid-engine Corvette, The General has been playing us — you, the consumer, and we, the media — like a Stradivarius.Dribbling out information like pronouncements from the mount, the unveiling of a Chevrolet-badged mid-engine supercar has turned July 18 into the automotive media event of the year. COMMENTSSHARE YOUR THOUGHTS In other words, I “know” the base C8 is going to be a success. As for the much-speculated hot-rod versions, I still don’t know what I don’t know. 66 Years of Corvette complaints: a history of hating AmericaAs for its dampers, the C8 will rely on GM’s tried-and-true magneto-rheological system (rather than mechanically altering the shock absorbers’ valving, Magnetic Ride Control alters the viscosity of the shock’s hydraulic fluid). General Motors got into variable-viscosity damping fluid before anyone else and, now on its fourth-gen system, is still the industry leader.It must work. While no discussion was allowed on the Corvette’s ultimate performance — i.e. as of yet, no Nurburgring times have been posted — Juechter did say the base C8 with standard, passive suspension and Michelin Pilot Sport ALS all-season radials — 305/30ZR20 in the rear and 245/XR3519 in the front — will generate almost 1.0 g in corners. Rudimentary the new Vette’s chassis may be, but it certainly seems effective. As for the Z51 — which adds manually adjusted shocks, larger brake rotors and performance Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber to the equation — we can’t even speculate to how fast it will thread a hairpin.But is all this eschewing of exotic materials and suspension effective at keeping the new C8’s MSRP (semi-)reasonable? Who knows? Hagerty says it expects the new C8 to cost about US$10,000 more than its predecessor. If they be right, we’re looking at a starting price of around $80,000 here in the Great White Frozen North. [Chevrolet said at the reveal the car would start at around $70,000 in Canada — Ed.]Yes, they’ve fixed up the interiorIt’s no secret the interiors of Corvettes past have been a little, well, outre. Oh, the C7’s cabin wasn’t as awkward as some, but interior décor has not exactly been a Corvette strength. The C8 puts much of that clumsiness in the past. Sure, the squarish, two-arm steering wheel looks a little retro (and not in a good way) but the rest of the cockpit is pretty avant garde.The switchgear — air conditioning and seat heating controls, etc. — form a stylish, sweeping border between pilot and passenger. The infotainment system is also angled at the driver. Only the transmission’s push-button controls and various mode selectors are left on the centre console. A 14-speaker Bose audio system ensures the radio’s bass pounds as hard as the exhaust note.As for seats, loyal Corvette owners — an aging, creaking lot, as I mentioned — will be happy to hear the new C8 buckets have about 25 millimetres more travel, and the seat reclines nine degrees further back. And not only does the new C8 have a rear trunk — unique amongst mid-engine supercars — it’s large enough to carry two (smallish) golf bags. Take that, Ferrari!Putting it all into perspectiveAs you can tell, all this advanced information still leaves much room for will-they-or-won’t-they speculation. Twin-turbo or not? Hybrid or not? Is there really going to be 1,000 horsepower in the offing?So here’s one man’s take on the C8 as we now know it, and the even more hyper Corvettes to come. If the new C8 comes in at anything like the pricing speculated, it will be, archaic pushrod engine notwithstanding, a major coup. What General Motors has accomplished with its front-engined C7 has been quite literally a triumph of design over engineering. If the same nous can be applied to a more advanced mid-engine design with the same flair, I expect the base C8 to be nothing short of magic.On the other hand, I remain a little more than confused/skeptical/astonished at the reported turbo/hybrid/turbo-and-hybrid variants being proposed for future C8s. A full 1,000 hp would put the C8 firmly into the realm of McLaren P1s and Ferrari LaFerraris. Indeed, if the base Stingray can sprint to 100 clicks in three seconds flat with just 495 horsepower, what sort of madness will 1,000 horses generate? Could we see a 2.5-second zero-to-100-km/h time? Two seconds flat? To be sure, the limitations will be traction, not motivation.Forget actual performance figures — Corvettes have never lacked for speed — I can’t help but think owners of current European supercars will find the new Corvette not exotic enough for their taste. Pushrod V8s and basic long-/short-arm suspension may be seen as an anachronism too far for those who shop Ferrari and Lamborghini. Even if more expensive versions spout high-tech engines, the lack of a carbon-fibre chassis and exotic suspension configurations may put off those used to shopping unobtainium. They really were worried Corvette loyalists would hate the C8Rumours that GM execs were worried the Corvette’s traditional audience — old, male and shirtless, according to one brutally honest wag — would hate the new mid-engined C8 were absolutely spot-on. Indeed, according to Juechter, rumours Chevy would produce the C8 and C7 simultaneously as a sop to all those hairy-chested geriatrics were at one point true, GM execs hedging their bets in a fine example of Detroit mawkish indecision.But, as Juechter tells it, as soon as they saw the first rendition of the new C8, all plans for a C7 continuation were dropped. According to Automobile magazine’s 2014 Man of the Year, that’s because the new mid-engine ‘Vette is stunningly gorgeous. But I also suspect a large measure of newfound confidence came from the fact that, from the front or rear dead-on, the C8 looks very much like a refreshed — mildly refreshed — C7. Oh, some angles and creases have changed, but from directly behind or ahead, there’s no mistaking the C8 for anything other than an evolution of the Corvette.From the side, however, the C8 looks all genuine mid-engined supercar, and a truly gorgeous rendition at that. From almost every perspective, the new ‘Vette looks purposeful in its aerodynamics, subtle in its proportions and positively dynamic in its stance.Oh, there will be critics. A few nay-sayers will compare it to a McLaren-cloned this or deride it as an NSX-derived that. Then there will be those who will call the styling too American-centric, as if that were insult.They would be dunderheads. The new C8 is, in a word, stunning.The (base) engine is another ode to Corvette’s pastThe only truly solid powerplant information we have is about the base 6.2-litre small-block V8. Juechter cites compact dimensions (important for space considerations in a mid-engined car), a low centre-of-gravity (c-of-g is allegedly right around the driver’s inner hip to allow better steering feedback) and sufficiently attractive looks — all those hide-bound loyalists will no doubt be thrilled by the large 3.2-mm-thick glass panel in the rear hatch shows off the LT2 — as reasons to stick with the small-block.It’s unlikely anyone will be disappointed with the performance. Thanks to a new intake system and a wild set of immaculately crafted individual equal-length “up-and-over” headers, the LT2 pumps out 495 horsepower (at 6,450 rpm) and 470 pound-feet of torque (at 5,150 rpm), the most horsepower and torque for any entry-level model in Corvette history. It will be mated to a new Tremec-sourced eight-speed dual-clutch transaxle. No, there will not be a manual offered, the new C8 yet another resounding admission the stick-shift transmission is all but dead.As with previous Corvette gearboxes, 7th and 8th gears are essentially overdrives, the LT2 loafing as low as 1,200 rpm on the highway. Second through 6th, meanwhile, are track-ready close-ratios, for minimal rpm drop between shifts. Most impressive, however, says Juechter, is how short first gear will be. “You won’t believe how hard this car launches,” still talking about the base small-block.In fact, if Chevrolet’s testing is right, the new Corvette is going to be scary-fast. Officially, GM claims the new C8 will break the three-second barrier to 60 miles per hour (97 kilometres per hour). That would indicate even the slowest C8 will be a genuine three-second zero-to-100-km/h supercar. On the spec sheet at least, the base C8 would seem a real challenge to lesser McLarens and Lamborghinis.We’re basically certain Chevy is sticking with the overhead-valve layout, at least in the base car, so loyalists will be comforted by the rhythmic clickety-clack of the pushrods know and love. As Juechter puts it, “it’s a true big-bore Corvette sound. If you don’t like the sound of the small-block, you’re not going to like this one, because it sounds just like what you’re familiar with.”As for rumours of twin-turbo’ed double-overhead-camshaft hybridized V8s to rival the LaFerrari or McLaren P1, they’ll stay rumours for now, Juechter refusing to confirm or deny any powertrains beyond the LT2. Like I said, after suffering years of not-always-polite speculation, GM wants to milk all this anticipation for as long as it can.They tried to keep the price in checkAs much as its configuration is a radical departure from past Corvettes, the construction of its chassis is anything but. Indeed, while Juechter mentions the new C8’s suspension attachment points are some of the largest high-pressure die castings the company has ever produced, its underpinnings are very much an evolution of previous Corvette’s.The frame is, much like a C7’s, mostly aluminum — no McLaren-like carbon-fibre tub to be found — only with the engine moved back and the cabin mushed forward. That said, there’s now virtually no welding in the frame. “It’s almost all,” says Juechter, “structural adhesives with redundant mechanical fasteners.” The result is a chassis “substantially stiffer than the competition’s [that would be Ferrari and Lamborghini] open cars” and vastly more rigid than the current Corvette.That all being said, the C8 weighs in at 1,530 kilograms, noticeably more than the 1,420 kilos Ferrari claims for the 488 Spyder; and the McLaren LT Spyder’s 1,297 kg.The suspension configuration is similarly familiar. Though the specific layouts are vastly different — incorporating a rear transaxle guarantees that — the C8 will ride on basic double wishbones at all four wheels. According to Juechter, there will be no F1-like rockers added for variable-linkage ratios, nor any McLaren-like cross-linked hydraulic connection between diagonally-located — left-front-to-right-rear and left-rear-to-right-front — shock absorbers.In fact, the most radical departure in the suspension department will be that the Corvette’s traditional transverse rear spring is no more, having been replaced by coil springs. Oh, and there will also be a “lift kit” that will momentarily raise the front end by some 40 millimetres so you don’t scrape the lower bumper skirts.RELATED Trending Videos RELATED TAGSChevroletCorvetteCoupeNon-LuxuryNew Vehiclesdrivingmas2019Non-Luxury See More Videos So, never mind that they’ve been spooning out details like we’re toddlers in high chairs. Or that we all already knew, thanks to the most easily-accessed “spy” photos in the history of new automobiles, every angle of its silhouette. Ignore the fact that, even though Driving was given a super-secret, hush-hush advanced briefing by none other than Tadge Juechter, the C8’s chief engineer, we still don’t know all the performance metrics of this new Corvette.Yes, all that aside, here’s what we know, what we think we know and even — to paraphrase the immortal Donald Rumsfeld — what we don’t know we don’t know about Chevy’s new C8 Corvette. 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