The numbers we have for the C8… and the numbers we want
Ironically, the stellar 0–60 time predictions we’ve heard for the C8 don’t tell us anything new.
Despite our initial scramble for explanations of the new Corvette’s claimed sub-3.0-second 0-60 figure (the air rang with cries of electric? All-wheel drive?!) the C8 does what Corvettes do best—take a simple formula, shove in a small-block, and let the magic happen. This time, the real magic happens behind the driver.
A recent Engineering Explained video breaks down the math behind the C8’s 0-60-mph sprint. When you pin the pedal (and yes, you’ll be managing just the brake and the throttle in the exclusively automatic-equipped C8), the car squats down on the rear wheels and its nose skims higher off the pavement under sudden, aggressive acceleration.
The C8, after having its insides all shuffled around, is set up for 0–60 success because of its 60/40 weight distribution. With the engine so close to the rear wheels, there’s more weight sitting on top of the car’s driven wheels—and more power to them. No, really. Corvette engineers chased down 35 more mechanical horses for the newest generation’s Z51-packaged ’Vette, compared to the Z51 C7. Horsepower plus sticky tires equals 0–60 awesomeness.
With that said, how fast is the C8? Turns out that’s kind of a tricky question. The sensory impact of speed covers a multitude of testing procedural errors, and low numbers with a liberally sprinkling of decimal points give the aura of mechanical intuition. 0–60 times are democratically pleasing to those of us underbudget for a ZR1. Remember, no state has an acceleration limit.
Speaking of acceleration, we want to inject the Corvette conversation with another statistic: trap speed. Familiar to those fluent in street- and drag-racing lingo, trap speed was judge and jury in ’50s drag racing, measuring a car’s speed in the final 132 feet of the dragstrip.
If 0–60 stats capture an instant when the stars align, trap speed is a sort of almanac about what to expect on any given day. While 0–60 stat is like capturing an athlete’s reaction time, trap speed is more like measuring a car’s lung capacity; it gives us a good idea of how the car would approach different scenarios or different tracks.
The deciding factors in a 0–60 time are typically traction and driver finesse, trap speed says much about horsepower and the pattern of power production. The higher the trap speed, the more the car continues to accelerate over a given quarter-mile. A car could punch the 0–60 sprint and still peter out into a weak quarter-mile time.
Trap speed is most instructive with higher-performance cars, so there’s no need so shy away from quoting just how fast you can snag a super-speeder ticket in a 35-mph zone, but trap speed tells more about what your car could do on a track when you’ve got free rein to explore some limits.
Though some may be skeptical of the C8’s new layout, its mid-engine recipe unlocks a degree of additional performance any Corvette fan can appreciate. Like always, the new ‘Vette will keep taking the fight to import competitors (looking at you, Porsche and McLaren), and at a much more approachable price. If you like the idea of an American underdog, get comfy. Something tells us the C8’s saga is just getting started.