TUSTIN, Calif. -- The radical new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray looks like a spaceship or fighter jet, but its superpower is gravity, not flight.
In the biggest change in America's greatest sports car's 66-year history, engineers moved the eighth-generation 'Vette's engine from its familiar location under the hood to behind the passengers, over the rear axle.
That's because gravity was an ally, not a foe as Chevy worked to let the 'Vette put more power on the road than ever before, chief engineer Tadge Juechter told me in an early look at the sports car that debuted Thursday night.
"We began exploring possibilities in 2005," two full generations of the Corvette ago, Juechter said.
With 60% of the car's weight over the rear axle -- the proportion super car maker Ferrari traditionally pursues -- gravity pushes the rear wheels down onto the road so they don't spin, inaugurating a future of faster and more maneuverable Corvettes.
The result? Zero to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds and more technology and luxury than ever before in a car that remains unmistakably a Stingray.
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The changes are so profound that some longtime Corvette fans swore Chevy ruined the car before they saw one without camouflage, sat in the driver seat or learned how quick it was.
I've done all three.
Classic V-8 sound and power
The engine is GM's classic small block V-8, a normally aspirated 6.2L that produces 495 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. Both figures are up from the previous base model. The sky's the limit as GM develops engines for even higher performance models like the ZO6 and ZR1.