While the motor press has reported ecstatically on the mid-engine C8 Stingray, one Corvette design engineer says it's not all about engine placement.
"This was not just about moving the engine. This was a ground-up rebuild," Kirk Bennion said at a Corvette event in Florida. "The biggest benefit, really, is that it moved the occupants 16.5 inches forward. That was a huge change. It gave the car better balance, better weight distribution … and it improved traction and handling."
Analysts and enthusiasts alike have been amazed at the dynamic design of the C8, now in its second model year. One humble Corvette technical engineer, Besy Philip, said there's really "nothing tricky" about it. "We don't try to cheat the law of physics," he said. "We try to get it to work for us."
Best of all, the C8 is still one of the best bang-for-your-buck sports cars in the world, a track star yet graceful and comfortable enough for daily commutes and road trips. Its wide stance is enhanced by a broad, blacked-out grille, large air intakes in front and bulging from the sides, and a broad rear with squared-off quad exhausts.
The hard-top convertible ($7,500 option) was a first for Corvette. Surveys showed a preference for the hard top over fabric. Not only does it look cleaner, Chevy says, it offers better aerodynamics. With a tap of the key fob, it drops down in just 16 seconds even at speeds up to 30 mph.
Another first is the 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which enables faster and smoother shifts as it delivers power to the rear wheels (where else in a muscle car?). Gears are selected by a push-button shifter (ugh!) or two large steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. No manual is available.
Power comes from the same 6.2-liter naturally aspirated engine, meaning immediate throttle response (no turbo lag). It makes 490 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque and gets up to speed with great authority: 60 mph comes in an exhilarating 2.8 seconds, and the 100 mph mark in just 7.2 seconds. Before you can blink, the quarter-mile marker zips by in 11.2 seconds at 122 mph. Top speed is listed at 194 mph but the speedometer shows off at 220.
Beyond good looks and speed, the C8 also handles like no Corvette before it. With extra weight over the rear wheels, balance and traction are noticeably improved through twisty roads and corners. Also, kudos for a nicely weighted and precise steering system.
The Magnetic Ride Control (adaptive dampers) adjusts for taut handling on the track but can lighten up for greater ride comfort when you want it. The upgraded suspension now is available as a standalone option ($1,895) so no need to pony up for the Z51 performance package at $5,000.
On the other hand, you'll miss out on Z51 features like high-performance brakes, suspension, run-flat tires and exhaust, electronic limited slip differential, and a Z51 spoiler.