The C8 Corvette is great—but not yet perfect

2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 Mid-engine

It’s the most radical redefinition of Corvette since at least 1983—and for many of its Boomer-aged potential buyers, it could be the last Corvette they ever own. So the C8 has to deliver, big time. Does it hit the mark?

In the near future, Hagerty will have a mid-engine Corvette of our own for the three ‘Vette owners on our editorial staff to test, dissect, and discuss. For now, we have a roundup of the major impressions released today, plus a few forthright comments from an anonymous, but credible, industry insider. Let’s take a look.

Since the ‘60s, the Corvette’s straight-line performance has usually been in the same neighborhood as that of far more expensive exotics. This trend continues with C8, which utilizes super-low gearing for a sub-3-second 0-60 (hitting the mark in third gear!) and a remarkably impressive 11.2 @ 122 mph temperature-corrected quarter-mile for Car and Driver. The new car’s heavier, scaling at about 3650 pounds in most tests, but that dual-clutch transmission does a lot to redress the balance of power.

Things get more complicated when the road starts to twist. Braking and cornering isn’t quite up to Porsche Cayman GTS standards, and at least one magazine indicated that the C8 doesn’t match the Z51-equipped C7 for grip. Cornering balance was also a big concern—this car likes to push the nose at the limit, far more than the competition or its finely-tuned predecessor. That’s likely a feature, not a bug. The buyers of entry-level Corvettes value safety and reassuring behavior at high speeds over absolute cornering power. You can address this by fitting wider front wheels and tires, or you can just wait for Chevrolet to handle it in the inevitable Grand Sport version.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
GM

Control efforts are much lighter than what you’d find in the C7 or any predecessor, with both the steering and brake pedal delivering luxury-car levels of ease. Road & Track notes that the C7 had a high manual shift effort, an assertion which will bring a smile to the face of any muscle car (or even C5 Corvette) owner. In any event, since all the C8s are automatic it’s now a moot point.

Ride and handling is reported as “luxurious”, an assertion reinforced by an insider who told us “It drives and steers like a luxury car now.” Opinions are mixed on the usefulness of the unusual center-console layout, but everyone agrees that the materials involved are of much better quality than they used to be. All three seat variants offer acceptable support, but you’ll want to check that your preferred choice matches your body type.

A journalist who had early access to the car summed up the negatives for us like so: “Feels underpowered for the chassis, which in turn feels dumbed-down. It’s like it’s the basis for a great performance car, not a great performance car itself. The C7 Grand Sport is a much better drive.”

That’s good news for bargain hunters, since Grand Sports are still in ample supply at dealers—but if you make that choice, you’ll miss out on experiencing the instant-celebrity status that will accompany C8 ownership until the public gets used to them. 

If you’re excited about being on the bleeding edge of Corvette ownership, we certainly wouldn’t stop you—and we will have more specific details on the car in the weeks to come. If you’re a track rat at heart, however, you may well want to wait for the flat-crank variants that are on the way… or content yourself with the aforementioned Grand Sport, which remains perhaps the finest and best-balanced two-seat American sporting car ever built. We’ll return with a detailed review aimed at existing Corvette owners and collectors soon, so stay tuned!