Decades of GM engineering studies and years of development on behalf of the current Corvette team have finally led to this moment, the unveiling of the first production Corvette with a rear-mid-engine layout. We’ll spare you the history lesson and trivia—except for mentioning that this is the first mid-engine car from General Motors since the Pontiac Fiero. First impression—this one is definitely faster. Here are the details you’ve been waiting for.
Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter proudly proclaimed that this is the first Corvette to use a mid-engine layout, given the clear limitations GM was coming up against with the outgoing front-engine, rear-drive design. But for all the changes to the C8, he made a point of the car’s naturally aspirated small-block V-8.
The 2020 Corvette Stingray will debut with a 6.2-liter V-8 engine—codenamed LT2— that produces 495 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. It should look and sound familiar to you, because it’s simply the next evolution of the Gen-V small-block that we all love, although GM claims that basically the only things that carry over are the engine block and cylinder heads. Output is up from the C7 Stingray’s 455 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, although the available figures refer to the C8 with the Z51 package’s performance exhaust. Standard power and torque figures with the base exhaust are unknown. Credit the boost in power over the LT1 to improved airflow afforded by the rear mounting, a more aggressive camshaft with increased duration to move the torque band higher, and some beautiful tubular exhaust manifolds.
Small-block program manager Jordan Lee reminded us of the benefits of the C8s packaging. “The inlet restriction is lower, exhaust backpressure is lower, and the lube system really helps because we have less oil in the system.” All LT2 engines benefit from dry sump oiling and this is the small-block’s first application of lifter valley oil scavenging. Keeping oil where it’s needed and away from where it’s not keeps the cam and crank from whipping around in the oil and reduces aeration, allowing the Stingray's small-block to remain lubricated through demanding track sessions.
The engine’s power, as speculated, will be handled by a Tremec eight-speed dual-clutch. Unlike the C5 and C6, which used a transmission bolted to a differential, the C8’s Tremec unit is a true transaxle, enabling the powertrain to fit in the small confines of the C8’s engine bay. The first gear will be essentially just for launches, which helps explain the C8’s bonkers 2.95-second 0-60-mph sprint. Gears 2 through 6 are what you’ll use on the track and on twisty roads, while 7 and 8 are for cruising.
Earlier spy photos weren’t able to hide a whole lot of the 2020 Stingray’s shapely new style. Large side scoops feeding air to the engine are not interrupted by the door cut line, where the Stingray’s door handles are cleverly hidden. Airflow to the intake flows through the top third, while the bottom two-thirds is used to pull air into the engine bay to promote cooling. Twin radiators are mounted up front behind the outboard grille openings.
Recent leaks showing the C8’s tail panel were dead on, and the sixth-generation Camaro resemblance is notable. Taillight shapes are a major point of contention with 'Vette lovers, and the C7’s departure from quad ovals caused a bit of a kerfuffle, although anyone who remembers early second-generation Camaros knows that Chevrolet’s sporty cars have shared taillight cues in the past.
An all-new chassis was developed for the new mid-engine Stingray. Like the C7, it uses aluminum for the bulk of the construction—although the C8 relies much more heavily on cast pieces that make up the bulk of the front and rear subframes. They are bonded together and additional fasteners provide redundancy. The whole point of moving the engine was to give Corvette a lower polar moment of inertia, enabling the car to both rotate and stop rotating more easily. To that end, keeping mass concentrated in the center of car included moving the dry sump to the rear bulkhead. Total dry weight for the 2020 Stingray is 3366 pounds. The Current Stingray tips the scales at 3300 pounds.
Transverse leaf springs, a hallmark of Corvette rear suspension design since the adoption of independent rear suspension in 1963, have bowed out in favor of coilover springs and short-long control arms at all four corners. The car will also be able to raise itself up to 2 inches to clear parking blocks and garage ramps, and you can even geotag certain areas so the car will automatically perform this function at up to 1000 locations.
In addition to a performance exhaust, the optional Z51 package will add Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires (instead of the standard Michelin all-seasons which, to their credit, can corner at almost 1 g), larger brake rotors, manually adjustable performance-tuned suspension, improved cooling for the brakes and engine, a specific axle ratio, and an electronic limited-slip differential mounted directly to the transaxle. For improved aero, the Z51 has a unique front splitter and split rear spoiler that add up to 440 pounds of downforce. Magneride shocks will be available on Z51 models, as well.
With improved track prowess comes the next generation in Chevrolet’s Performance Data Recorder and its windshield-mounted camera and on-board telemetry to help the driver wring every last bit out of the Stingray for ever-quicker lap times. A rear camera, mounted at the top of the hatch, provides a better peek at blind spots.
Ever since the Corvette gained a back hatch, enthusiasts have been able to have their sports car and at least a bit of practicality. Not wanting to throw all of that out despite the new layout, Corvette designers were faced with the challenge of incorporating luggage capacity into the sleek new Stingray. With the engine no longer residing up front, the C8 will have now have room for a small piece of luggage or some groceries, but there’s also room in the rear trunk. In the space behind the engine you’ll be able to fit two golf bags, or the C8 Corvette’s removable hardtop. A full drop-top is expected to debut shortly. Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter even noted that the five-piece custom luggage set designed to maximize cargo capacity in the C7 Corvette fits into the C8.
Perhaps the best news, and a piece of info that Chevrolet held until the end of the presentation, is that the C8 Corvette will be available for an MSRP of less than $60,000. The current C7 that’s ending production has a base price of $55,900, so the concerns that the move to a mid-engine platform would make America’s Sports Car unaffordable can be put to bed as this amounts to a very reasonably price increase.
Expect more details and performance metrics to follow as Chevrolet gears up for the other performance variants of the C8.