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How can the new mid-engined 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray be so damn cheap?

How can the new mid-engined 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray be so damn cheap?

Dejan Jovanovic 1 month ago
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It’s mid-engined, it’s fast, it’s light, it’ll handle your golf clubs, and there isn’t a leaf spring to be found. The new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is your cheapest ticket to supercar land…

This is sort of like changing the recipe for apple pie, to include cherries instead of apples. The American way of life is being turned on its head, or rather front to back. After decades of will they-won’t they, the folks at General Motors have finally decided to turn the Corvette into a mid-engined exotic, which sure riled up a lot of baby boomers, the red-white-and-blue-blooded Corvette core. These folk want a V8 up front and leaf springs out back, goddamit.

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Well with the eighth-generation 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, they ain’t getting neither. Instead, for a starting price of just $60,000, they’re getting a mid-engined supercar with room for two sets of golf clubs. So every one can just relax and put the pitchforks down.

Detroit has been fantasising about a mid-engined Corvette for more than 50 years, ever since Zora Arkus-Duntov started messing with GM research vehicles in the 1960s. But leave it to the 1980s to blow things way out of proportion.

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Corvette Indy concept

In 1986 Chevrolet showed off the Corvette Indy, a svelte mid-engined concept ready for a new wave of exotic car buyers, the guys with the pastel coloured blazers and rolled up sleeves riding the decade’s economic boom. It was a ripe time for supercars, and even the Japanese dared to explore the segment for the first time. When the Honda NSX rolled out in 1989 the rules were rewritten – no longer did supercars have to be unforgiving chores. The NSX brought reason and logic to the thrills of a mid-engined exotic, not to mention a price that was half that of a Ferrari…

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Meanwhile, of course, Chevrolet had chickened out and kept the Corvette running with its push-rod front-engined, leaf-spring suspension layout. And now, the birth of the new eighth-generation mid-engined Corvette coincides nicely with the 30th anniversary of the Honda NSX – Chevy might have something of the sort on its hands. The new ‘Vette is cheaper than the starting price of the cheapest Porsche 718 Cayman, the one with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder. In a way, it’s already looking like the people’s mid-engined supercar for the 2020s.

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If you’re already shouting sacrilege, consider the advantages of the shift to a mid-engined layout. For $60,000, the 2020 Corvette Stingray promises better weight distribution, better handling, and the fastest 0-100km/h time of any ‘Vette ever. The downsides could be serviceability, and we can’t think of anything else. Apart from the polarizing design, which is derivative and unimaginative. The rear in particular looks like your typical cheap GM-ware, a bunch of plastic thrown together, but did we mention it starts from $60,000?      

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The 6.2-litre V8 behind the driver is also the only naturally aspirated V8 in a mid-engined supercar on the market, putting 637Nm of torque and 495 horsepower down to the ground. An eight-speed dual-clutch transmission (seventh and eighth are cruising gears) drives the rear wheels and at the time of its reveal there was no mention of a manual gearbox, but GM would love nothing more but to grow the Corvette name into a whole spin-off line of cars. In which case, anything goes.

To compensate for the increase in performance, both in a straight line and through the corners, the C8 ‘Vette rides on new coil-over suspension, and it should feel sharp with a new quicker rack, with a 15.7:1 ratio compared to the C7’s 16.3:1 steering ratio. The brakes too are bigger, and track-day fans will appreciate the enhanced cooling, particularly after all the public issues with overheating C7s.

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GM’s designers obviously couldn’t miss an aeronautical analogy here and there, so the cockpit comes inspired by F22 and F35 fighter jets, which could be why it looks so cramped in there. It will feel strange sitting 16.5 inches further forward in a Corvette, but the C8, at least in this loaded launch spec, looks premium enough with a 12-inch display, real metal trim, and fancy leather. And they weren’t shy with the buttons.

Everything else on the market that’s mid-engined and similarly powered costs twice as much, at least, so the world will be watching how the 2020 Corvette Stingray performs against its exotic rivals.

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