Mid-Engine 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Races to Production

Jeff S. Bartlett

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

A true, all-new Chevrolet Corvette is a rare occurrence. Throughout the brand's history, Corvettes typically have gone many years between dramatic overhauls, punctuated by a mid-cycle update that freshens the exterior and interior while continuing to use the core mechanical bones. The unveiling of the 2020 Corvette Stingray marks a bold, new chapter, with the iconic sports car moving from a front-engine design for the first time in its long, storied history.

That is: The first time in production. Experimental race cars and concept cars wearing the Corvette moniker have tried placing the engine behind the driver many times, dating back to the 1960s. Now, Chevrolet has done it, shifting its traditional sports car into the realm of exotic supercars.

“The traditional front-engine vehicle reached its limits of performance, necessitating the new layout,” GM President Mark Reuss explained in a statement.

This means a completely fresh look, with a design more akin to a Ford GT or even a Ferrari than anything in Chevrolet’s production history. A large V8 engine has been placed behind the driver. And there is no more manual transmission. My, how things have changed.

Production for the eighth-generation Corvette (aka C8) will begin at the Bowling Green, Ky., factory in late 2019. Here’s what we know so far: 

Outside

This is a radical new look for Corvette, and historic design cues are quite limited. The Stingray badge and Corvette logo are evolutionary. The windshield, roof, and door glass shapes look familiar. But that’s about it.

Instead, we have a car with clear mid-engine proportions. The short, sloped hood looks more Acura NSX than traditional ‘Vette. There is deep sculpting on the doors. Perhaps that’s a reminder of the coves on late 1950s and early 1960s Corvettes, but that’s a stretch. Now, that sculpting is functional, pushing air to the rear engine compartment and brakes where it’s needed to help cool things down.

The cabin is positioned forward and it looks to be tight, with much of the car’s visual weight taken by the large rear section where the eight-cylinder engine resides. The high, crisp edge to the rear fenders is evocative of the current car. Ultimately, these proportions clearly signal a dramatic change in the car.

The dimensions have also changed a bit, with the C8 stretching 5.4 inches longer than the outgoing C7 and 2.2 inches wider. It weighs about 70 lbs. more, as well.

Where the glass back hatch on past Corvettes revealed the large cargo space, the rear hatch on the new car showcases the engine. Again, there are four exhaust outlets, but they are no longer grouped in the center, under the license plate, as they are on the current car.  

Inside

The interior is intimate, with a large center console separating the driver and passenger. As in the current car, this creates a narrow space for each, evocative of a fighter plane cockpit. On the current car, the thick tunnel houses the driveshaft that connects the powertrain to the rear wheels. Now a tunnel serves as the car’s backbone, creating a stiff foundation. That increased rigidity is meant to help with the suspension tuning. This also enables the car to use narrower door sills than some rival supercars, making it easier to get in and out—a challenging feat with the current car.

There are three seat options, ranging from leather-trimmed buckets with two-way lumbar adjustments up to track-focused, body-hugging seats with carbon-fiber trim. The C8 will have memory functions for both driver and passenger seat to save preferred settings.

The steering wheel has a flat bottom—a squared-off design that is often used in race cars. A heated steering wheel will be offered.

The instrument panel is a 12-inch customizable screen. The car has six driver-adjustable modes: Weather, Tour, Sport, Track, MyMode (customizable), and Z Mode (further customizable, with a name that draws from famed past performance packages). Center stage is Chevrolet’s next-generation infotainment system with a higher-resolution display. Among its tricks is natural voice recognition with the ability to learn. Two Bose audio systems will be offered.

A Performance Data Recorder can capture track performance and film highlights. Further, it can be used like a dash cam that records video whenever the car is running, and there is a mode to record what’s going on when the car is in Valet mode, just in case.

The Corvette has been known since its 1997 C5 version for its unusually large cargo storage for a sports car. But now, due to its design change, the C8 does not have one large compartment. Instead, there is storage up front and in the rear. Chevrolet claims that the C8 holds 12.6 cubic feet of cargo combined, and that it can transport two sets of golf clubs—that’s long been a distinguishing Corvette feature.

What Drives It

With this redesign, it would be natural to expect Chevrolet would replace the tried-and-true V8 with a turbocharged engine or even one with a hybrid assist. But this is one place that the C8 remains true to its Corvette core and heritage.

Under the rear glass hatch is a 6.2-liter V8 that produces 495 horsepower, up 35 from the 2019 model, and 470 lb.-ft. of torque. This is the most power for a base Corvette engine in history. And it is likely just the start, as higher-performance versions are inevitable.

The transmission is an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. There is no manual transmission. This transmission is set up for quick gear shifts, with an aggressive first gear and tall seventh and eighth gears to help improve fuel economy.

The powertrain enables the quickest 0-60-mph time for any base Corvette; Chevrolet claims the sprint can be made in under 3 seconds with the Z51 performance package. The Z51 also brings a sportier suspension setup, enhanced engine cooling, more aggressive axle ratio, and upgraded exhaust. (For comparison, Chevrolet claims the current car races 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds when equipped with the Z51 package.) For the record, we got 4.3 with our 2014 Corvette Stingray Z51.  

CR’s Take

Times change and eventually, so does even the Corvette. This is a complete reimagining of an iconic sports car. Frankly, it was needed.

The current Corvette is very impressive. It is a high-tech sports car, with quick reflexes, sure-footed ability to take sharp corners, and prodigious power. Plus, it’s livable, with decent ride comfort for the class, impressive fuel economy, and weekend-ready cargo space. But the 2019 model is truly just an evolution of the 1997 C5. Even by Corvette standards, that is a long time without a proper redo.

This ground-up redesign promises to take the Corvette to new performance heights. We hope that the new car remains as livable as the current model, and that the price doesn’t make the car too elite.

Our final wish is for improved reliability, something that has been a historical weakness for Corvette for decades. 

Chevrolet Corvette Indy mid-engine concept

1954 Chevrolet Corvette

1966 Chevrolet Corvette

1972 Chevrolet Corvette

1987 Chevrolet Corvette

2001 Chevrolet Corvette

2013 Chevrolet Corvette

2018 Chevrolet Corvette



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2020 Corvette C8 2019 Corvette C7
Length 182.3 176.9
Width 76.1 73.9
Height 48.6 48.8
Wheelbase 107.2 106.7
Weight 3,366 3,298

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