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Everything You Need to Know about the $60k Mid-engine C8 Corvette

By now, you've probably heard one of the most incredible things about the new Corvette. It isn't the mid-engine layout. It's actually the price. It will start just under $60,000 USD (and under $70,000 CAD according to GM Canada Media website). Of course, that number alone means nothing if you aren't getting something special. So the question is: what are you actually getting for $60k? Let's dive right in.

The Drivetrain

Although most publications were anticipating the new Cadillac twin-turbo V8 called "Blackwing" until recently, I predicted last October that the base engine will likely be a revised version of the LT1 V8 in the current C7 Corvette "making anywhere between 480 and 500 hp." The C8 Corvette Stingray (at least until Z versions start coming out) will be powered by a revised 6.2 litre V8 named LT2. The engine will make 495 hp and 470 lb-ft. torque with the Performance Exhaust. The base version hp isn't announced but it will likely be only 5-10 hp less if the C7 Corvette is any indication.

The engine will be mated to a Tremec-developed 8-speed dual-clutch transaxle (DCT) as predicted. The dual clutch auto will be the standard transmission option. There is no mention right now of a manual... although no mention of one not being available either. I wouldn't hold my breath, but I wouldn't rule it out either since Camaros and Corvettes have some of the highest manual take rates in the industry. Road and Track published a couple of years ago that the Corvette manual take rate was 23%, and that was before the Grand Sport was available. That might seem low, but considering that the average industry is 1.79% and even Chevrolet's overall lineup is 1.33% according to this reddit post, the number isn't too bad. Here's hoping a manual will be offered at some point.

And of course, the highlight of the redesign is the mid-engine layout. The engine is now placed in the middle, eliminating the need for a torque tube and hugely improving weight distribution for a rear-bias to aid traction. According to GM President Mark Reuss, the "traditional front-engine vehicle reached its limits of performance, necessitating the new layout." The other big number that a result of the power bump and midengine layout is 0-60 mph time. With the Z51 package, the non-Z Stingray will crack 3 seconds for a 0-60 mph time of 2.95 s, basically matching the outgoing 755 hp ZR1 monster.

Embracing the mid-engine layout, Chevrolet says that it paid attention to making all components like wiring, valve covers, pipes, tubing, etc. look good since they will be visible through a light-weight glass pane. Other changes in the LT2 generation is a lower centerline for the crankshaft, which now sits an inch lower to the ground to lower the centre of mass. There is also a low-profile oil pan and larger oil capacity by 25%, complimented by the oiling system being a dry sump on the base car for the first time, as opposed to being optional with the Z51 package as it is now. This is because Chevy is claiming the base car, even on the base all-season tires (the first application of Michelin's new Pilot Sport ALS tires) will be capable of generating over 1 g of lateral cornering force.

Chassis & Handling

Speaking of cornering, another departure from the norm for the C8 Corvette is doing away with the transverse composite leaf springs. Instead, the new Vette will use coil over dampers at all four corners and, combined with shorter, straighter, and stiffer steering system (thanks to midengine layout), this should be best handling Corvette to date. The updated electric steering system also boasts a slightly quicker steering ratio of 15.7:1, down from 16.3:1 in the outgoing C7.

The chassis itself seems to be built slightly different from the current crop of mid-engine supercars, including Chevy's own crosstown rival; the Ford GT. Instead of a centre tub with front and rear subframes mounted to it, the C8 Corvette’s chassis is built around a stiff centre tunnel. The rest of the chassis consists of six high-pressure and lightweight aluminum parts that Chevy calls "the Bedford Six". They are manufactured in-house at the GM Powertrain plant in Bedford, Indiana. GM claims that the design allows better egress and ingress than competitors design, which typically includes high sills.

All of this stiff, lightweight structure results in a dry weight of 3,366 lb (1,526 kg) which isn't exactly feather-weight, but it's very impressive considering what's packaged into it and the affordability. A blue-blooded, carbon-fibre tubbed Ferrari 488GTB or a McLaren 570S are less than 200 lb. (100 kg) lighter. I suspect a central carbon fibre tub would have resulted in lower weight but also far higher costs. You can't blame GM, not unless someone else comes up with a mid-engine, naturally aspirated 500-hp V8 car for $60k.

Front suspension will be short/long arm (SLA) double wishbone, including cast aluminum upper and L-shape lower control arms with monotube dampers. Rear suspension will be also be short/long arm (SLA) double wishbone but with forged aluminum upper and cast aluminum lower control arm. The 4th gen of Magnetic Ride Control will, of course, be available with the Z51 package and the front end will have an adjustable lift system to clear bumps. One cool feature of the front lift system is a memory feature that allows you to define up to 1,000 locations in the GPS where you know there are bumps and the system will adjust automatically. Neat.

Other neat features? The new stiff structure allows a removable targa top like the current Vette, and there is space in the back to store the top. And this will be the first Corvette available in both left and right hand drive.

  • Brakes
All of the speed and handling wouldn't be any good without brakes. Front brakes will be 12.6" clamped by 4-piston brembo calipers. Rears will be larger at 13.6" but use non-brembo 4 piston monoblock calipers. The Z51 package will bring brembo calipers all around and larger disc rotors, measuring 13.3" in the front and 13.8" in the back. The bias to larger rear brakes is a reflection of where most of the braking is expected to be since most of the grip/traction will be in the back, a true mark of the better balance due to the mid engine layout.

Wheels & Tires

As already mentioned, the standard tires will be the first OEM application of Michelin's new Pilot Sport ALS all-season performance tires. They are said to be able to generate over 1 g of lateral cornering force. Front wheels will measure 19" x 8.5" and the rears will be 20" x 11", all in the traditional Chevy 5x120 bolt pattern.

Tire sizes are 245/35/19 in the front and 305/30/20 in the back. If you go for the Z51 package, all measurements and sizes remain the same but tires are switched over to Michelin Pilot Sport 4S's.

Speaking of the Z51 package, there are plenty of goodies including:
  • Performance suspension with manually adjustable threaded spring seats, presumably to allow ride height adjustments and/or wider range of caster and camber alignment.
  • The aforementioned larger brake rotors with Z51 logo on calipers.
  • Enhanced cooling.
  • Specific axle ratio.
  • Front brake cooling inlets.
  • Performance exhaust bring horsepower up to 495 hp (base hp is not announced yet)
  • Chevy's electronic limited slip differential.
  • A front splitter and open two-piece rear spoiler that add up to a combined 400 lb. (181.4 kg) of downforce.
  • Available Magnetic Ride Control 4.0
  • Available Performance Traction Management.

The Interior

There will also be three seat choices called GT1, GT2, and Competition. Competition will be similar to the outgoing Competition seats focused on high performance driving and the mid-grade option - GT2 - will have heating, cooling, improved comfort, and Napa leather. Elsewhere in the cockpit, there are plenty of material improvements including "generous use of real metal", hand-wrapped leather, and carbon fibre trim.

The dashboard will be all digital as the industry trend is going, with a 12" configurable screen in place of a traditional instrument cluster. And the upgrades to the interface go more than skin deep, with new drive modes in addition to the current four. Weather, Tour, Sport, and Track found in the current C7 Corvette will return, plus two new modes called "MyMode" and "Z" are added. MyMode allows you to store your own preferences for traction, stability, suspension, and steering to remain active between key cycles. The "Z" mode is (of course) named after the Z51, Z06, and ZR1 cars and builds on MyMode by allowing different settings for engine and transmission, and it will come with a dedicated "Z" button on the steering wheel for quick activation.

Take My Money!

Given that this isn't even a limited production or edition, prices will likely stabilize after the initial run. That means you should be able to walk into a dealership and buy a mid-engine, 500 hp naturally aspirated V8 car for close to $60k, which is just incredible. Sure, it may look a little like a Ferrari. And I wish they had kept the centre quad exhaust. It may not be available with a manual now (or ever), but it's very hard to argue otherwise.

On-sale date isn't announced, but it is likely going to be before the end of the year since it is called a 2020 model year. You can read more about available options and colours in GM's press release. I personally can't wait to see what this thing is capable of.

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