After 50 years, Chevy has delivered a mid-engined Corvette Stingray, the C8, and it's already a hit with those at the launch in Tustin, California.
This is a leap in the evolution in all aspects of this, the Chevrolet C8 Corvette Stingray. Moving the engine directly behind the seats has given the car an entirely new feel, from design to performance and more.
The big discussion revolves around the 6.2-litre V8 sitting under the rear glass. It delivers up to 495hp and 470 lb-ft of torque and, as the "most powerful naturally aspirated engine found in a mid-engine car", according to Chevy, will get the Stingray up to 62mph in under three seconds.
The powerplant is built from aluminium, has a dry-sump system to mitigate lateral acceleration levels and sits low in the chassis to reduce the Stingray's centre of gravity. For the first time ever, it receives a dual-clutch transmission with eight forward gears, but there is no manual on offer. The first gear is aimed at quick acceleration, the next five are track-optimised, while the last two focus on overdrive and keeping fuel consumption down.
It also has a transaxle-mounted electronic limited-slip differential driving the rear wheels, and the driver is offered six driving modes. Depending on the requirements, one can select from Weather, Tour, Sport, Track, MyMode (configurable for street use), and ZMode (configurable for track use).
All of this sits neatly in Corvette's brand new platform, a lightweight aluminium and carbon fibre chassis built around a rigid centre tunnel. The suspension is new too, modern coil springs complement the stiffer chassis with double A-arms, for the first time, in both the front and the rear.
Three states of tune will be available for the C8's springs. First up, the FE1, which is slightly stiffer than the outgoing car; the even harder FE3; and the FE4, which is the latest version of GM's terrific magnetic ride control system. The Stingray also receives a nose-lift feature which raises the front by 1.6-inches in a quick 2.8-seconds. It will work at speeds up to 24mph and can be programmed via the GPS to remember 1,000 locations that could cause damage to the front and automatically raise the car up.
Brembo supply the Corvette with electronically boosted, four-piston brakes, 12.6-inch two-piece in front and monobloc callipers in the back. Standard rubber arrives in the form of Michelin Pilot Sport ALS all-season wrapping large 19-inch fronts and 20-inch rears.
Moving the engine rearwards hasn't cramped the Corvette's daily useability. In fact, even with the powerplant sitting midway, you can still fit two sets of golf clubs, or the cars removable Targa top into the boot. Plus, Chevy will offer a custom set of luggage if you like. The 'frunk' can swallow an airline-regulation carry-on bag and, combined, the cargo capacity measures 12.6 cubic feet, 2,4 down on the C7 but still more than enough for a weekend getaway.
The exterior is aggressive, as you would expect, with the cockpit pushed further forward. The creases and lines are sharper, and the design feels more masculine all around.
Climb aboard, and an entirely new cockpit overwhelms the senses. The hexagonal steering wheel sits in front of a 12-inch instrument display. Next to it sits a driver-orientated touch-screen infotainment display, and a large centre-column homes the push-button transmission selector, as well as an odd strip of 20 buttons.
All of the materials have been given a premium touch, according to Chevy, with hand-wrapped leather, actual metal and carbon fibre trim options. There are six colour themes available for the cockpit, including black, grey, natural, blue, red and another red. The seatbelts can also be specced in custom colours, from black, blues, natural and red, to yellow and orange, and the stitching can be either grey, red or yellow.
Standard seats, named GT1, offer lateral support but are focused on comfort, while the GT2 and Sport options are progressively more race-inspired, with the latter designed for track use.
Chevy hasn't released prices yet, but it has been suggested that they will be aggressive, with speculation suggesting the entry-level model starting at $60 000. There will be options galore, which will include a variety of things such as stickier tyres and sharper shocks, those sporty seats and more.
Either way, the first cars are expected to roll off the Kentucky-based factory line near the end of 2019, so we hope to have more on the driving dynamics by then.