- Mid-engine layout promises better rear-wheel traction
- Fast as the dickens
- Corvette lines work with new form
- Improved outward visibility
- Faster around a track
- Performance was already paramount
- Less usable cargo space
- No more manual transmission
features & specs
The switch to a mid-engine design makes the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette faster in a straight line and around a track. Mission accomplished.
The father of the Chevrolet Corvette, engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov, had the idea in 1957. Some 63 years later it’s become a reality: The Corvette is now a mid-engine car.
The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, the so-called C8 generation, has switched to a mid-engine design in a quest to elevate America’s sports car to supercar performance.
The 2020 Corvette earns a 7.0 TCC Rating based on its performance and available features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
With the switch to the mid-engine design comes a new form factor. Rather than a long hood with a set-back cabin and a short deck, the new Corvette has a shorter hood, with the cabin moved 16.5 inches forward and a longer rear deck that makes room for the engine. Traditional Corvette cues are still there, like the familiar face that recalls the C7 and C6 generations, the low-set headlights, the removable roof panel that can be stored in the rear trunk, and the fighter-jet-inspired lines. However, new elements such as larger front air intakes and massive air ducts in front of the rear wheels point to its mid-engine design.
Chevrolet also makes the engine part of the design. It can be seen through the rear hatch, and Chevrolet says it has taken care to optimize the appearance of every bolt, fastener, tube, and wire like you’d see on a motorcycle.
The Corvette is available with just one engine and one transmission, for now, and it marks the end of the manual transmission in the Corvette. The engine is the LT2 6.2-liter V-8 with a new aluminum block. It makes 495 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque when ordered with the Z51 package or 490 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque in base form. The engine features direct injection, dry sump lubrication (a first for a base Corvette), and cylinder deactivation.
An electronically controlled 8-speed dual-clutch automatic that can be shifted manually via steering wheel paddles is the lone transmission. Chevrolet says the transmission has a low-ratio first gear to take advantage of the V-8’s power, close-ratio gears 2 through 6, and tall 7th and 8th gears for improved highway fuel economy. EPA fuel economy ratings of 15 mpg city, 27 highway, 19 combined are similar to those of the outgoing car.
The combination of more power and traction afforded by the rear-engine design makes the C8 the fastest base Corvette ever. Zero to 60 mph takes 2.9 seconds with the Z51 package, according to Chevrolet, a feat that was previously reserved for the supercharged Z06 and ZR1 models.
The interior gives drivers a new viewing angle. The dash and hood sit lower, which creates better sight lines, and the driver grips a new squared off, small-diameter steering wheel. Buyers have a choice of three seat designs, all with leather upholstery, called GT1 (standard), GT2 (sportier), and Competition Sport (track focused).
The new design robs the Corvette of some of its former hatchback utility. Between the front and rear trunks, it has 12.6 cubic feet of cargo space. That’s only 2.4 cubic feet less than the C7 Corvette, but the smaller size of the two bins means larger items won’t fit. Chevrolet says two sets of golf clubs will fit, but those would have to be some short, Playskool clubs.
So far, Chevrolet has announced the Corvette in coupe and convertible body styles in only the Stingray model. Three trim levels—1LT, 2LT, and 3LT—are offered, as is the optional Z51 package. Standard equipment includes a 12.0-inch customizable digital instrument cluster, an 8.0-inch center touchscreen for infotainment, eight-way power-adjustable sport seats, leather upholstery, a 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot, a 10-speaker Bose audio system, a power tilt and telescope steering column, remote start, and 19-inch front and 20-inch rear alloy wheels. Important features available on higher models include wireless smartphone charging, GM’s Performance Data Recorder that can take video of track laps, a 14-speaker Bose audio system, a front lift system that uses GPS to mark locations to raise the nose, memory for both seats, a heated steering wheel, six interior colors, two interior stitching packages (yellow and red or gray), and 12 exterior colors.
The Z51 Performance Package comes with a performance-tuned suspension with threaded spring seats to adjust the coil-over dampers, bigger brakes with the Z51 logo on the calipers, additional cooling, a unique axle ratio, front brake cooling inlets, and the performance exhaust. Z51 buyers can also order the Magnetic Selective Ride Control dampers.
The 2020 Corvette starts around $61,000 and it can approach $90,000 with the full boat of options. Look for higher-performance models like the Grand Sport, Z06, and ZR1 in the future.
2020 Chevrolet Corvette
Creased and angled with the cockpit moved forward, the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette looks like a combination of a C7 Corvette and an origami Ferrari.
The look of the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette is a combination of a traditional Corvette and a modern mid-engine Ferrari. We think the design works, but it’s not beautiful, and we give the 2020 Corvette an 8 for styling based on the exterior’s good looks, and the cockpit-like, tech-rich interior.
Chevrolet says the Corvette’s design was inspired by the canopy-forward stance of the F-22 and F-35 fighter jets as well as Formula One cars. The cockpit moves forward and large air ducts sprout from the rear quarter panels, but the Corvette nose is unmistakably Corvette. The tail features a prominent spoiler and a taillight panel that looks like an evolution of the C7 Corvette’s. A series of angles, creases, and character lines create a look that’s part supercar, part origami.
At the rear, a clear hatch on the coupe displays the engine like a piece of art, and Chevrolet even offers an engine dress-up kit, with its fasteners, bolts, nuts, and wires treated like jewelry. Inspired by motorcycle design, the dress-up kit makes the mean-looking 6.2-liter V-8 stand out even more. The convertible body style does away with that window for a retractable panel that opens and closes to swallow the roof. The coupe can also be considered a convertible or a targa because it has a removable roof panel.
The interior also takes its cues from airplane design with controls and panels arrayed to surround the driver. Leather with contrast stitching, aluminum, and carbon fiber create an upscale feel that is complemented by two digital screens that add a techie flair. A long string of climate controls rising from the center console is a controversial design that also offers questionable ergonomics. It’s not that easy to find the control you want on the long, thin, control surface.
2020 Chevrolet Corvette
The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette’s mid-engine design sends power to the pavement more efficiently and enables quicker track times.
Chevrolet made the change to a mid-engine design to improve the 2020 Corvette’s performance, and it worked. It puts down its power better, and puts up quicker times on a racetrack. Direct steering, plentiful grip, abundant and linear power, and strong brakes all contribute to our perfect 10 score for performance.
With the change to a mid-engine layout, the Corvette’s weight shifts from a seemingly perfect 50/50 ratio to a lopsided 40/60 ratio that is more effective. More weight over the rear axle gives the car more traction at launch. That, combined with a power bump to 490 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque, enable a 3.0-second 0-60 mph run. Opt for the stickier tires and extra 5 hp and 5 lb-ft of torque of the Z51 Performance Package and the new Corvette Stingray hits 60 mph in 2.9 seconds. That’s almost the same time as the 755-hp 2019 Corvette ZR1.
The only transmission is a new 8-speed dual-clutch automatic, and it’s a revelation. It shifts smoothly on the street and quickly and crisply on the track. We put it up there with Porsche’s PDK as the best dual-clutch transmissions on the market even as we mourn the loss of the manual.
Put the C8 Corvette on a track or twisty road and the steering satisfies with its immediacy, the car corners with flat precision, and the electronic limited-slip differential lays down power efficiently while exiting turns. The rear end can slide out if the car is tossed too aggressively into a turn, but it’s easy to catch and bring back in line. The brakes also provide strong stopping power with a firm pedal, and the car stays arrow straight during heavy braking.
The forward seating position aids track driving because it’s easier to see turn-in points. That position also puts the driver closer to the action in a turn, which creates a better feel for where the car is headed.
The 2020 Corvette is built around a new six-piece aluminum structure that puts an emphasis on a stiff center tunnel. To save weight, it has a carbon-fiber rear bumper beam, and the front and rear tubs and dashboard are molded from fiberglass and resin. Double-wishbone suspensions with coil-over dampers are found front and rear, and the Z51 Performance Package offers GM’s Magnetic Selective Ride Control dampers as an option.
The design changes the car’s center of gravity to near the driver’s inside hip, so the car feels like it’s rotating around the driver. The new design also allowed Corvette engineers to use a short, straight, and stiff steering system that has a quicker 15.7:1 ratio (down from 16.25:1). It provides direct responses but not quite as much feel as the C7’s steering.
All-season Michelin Pilot Sport ALS tires are standard, and Chevy says they can handle close to 1 G of lateral grip. The Z51 package uses Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires. Both are sized at 245/35ZR19 up front and 305/30ZR20 at the rear. They cover four-piston front and rear Brembo brakes, 12.6 inches up front and 13.6 inches in the rear for the base Stingray and 13.3 inches up front and 13.8 inches in back for cars with the Z51 package. Braking is steady, strong, and stable.
While the performance envelope expands, the 2020 Corvette also becomes more refined. The V-8 still sounds its American rumble and growl, just at fewer decibels that make conversation easier. Ride quality also improves, especially with the outstanding magnetic dampers. In all but the Track mode, the 19-inch front and 20-inch rear tires soak up bumps well enough to make the Corvette a daily driver. Track mode makes the ride jittery and allows sharp bumps to pound through.
2020 Chevrolet Corvette
Comfort & Quality
The 2020 Chevy Corvette boasts a high-quality, driver-focused interior.
The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette’s interior is transformed along with the rest of the car. The layout is tilted even more toward the driver, the materials quality takes a step forward, and outward vision is improved. Buyers also have a choice of three supportive seats, two of which will work for most drivers, and extended leather and synthetic suede trim to further improve the richness of the cabin. We give the C8 Corvette a rating of 7 for comfort and quality based on the seats and materials mix.
Hop into the C8 Corvette and you immediately feel cocooned. The 8.0-inch center touchscreen is canted toward the driver at a steeper angle than in any other car, the wide center console isolates driver and passenger passenger, and the sporty seats range from supportive and well bolstered to a tight fit. The car’s new mid-engine design also creates a more commanding seating position. Driver and passenger 16 inches closer to the front axle and the hood falls away quickly, both of which create clearer sightlines to the front and sides. The view to the rear out the rear window is restricted, but that’s not a problem in anything but the base trim level due to the rear camera mirror that provides a clear view of what’s behind.
The new Corvette’s seats also offer another inch or so of rearward seat travel and more recline. This, teamed with a standard power tilt-telescoping steering wheel, makes it easy for average-size adults to find a comfortable seating position. Longer legged drivers, however, may have an issue with their knees approaching the dash and their elbows hitting the center console while turning the squared-off steering wheel.
Materials quality takes a major leap forward. Fit and finish is exemplary, soft-touch surfaces abound, and extended leather, Alcantara surfaces, and carbon-fiber trim can be added.
The change to a mid-engine design also gives the Corvette front and rear storage compartments. They combine for 12.6 cubic feet of cargo space, down from 15 cubes under the hatch of the 2019 model. The 2020 Corvette won’t fit items as large as in the last model, though a set of golf clubs does fit in the rear storage compartment. The convertible has the same 12.6 cubic feet of storage space, which is actually more than the 2019 model’s 10 cubic feet.
2020 Chevrolet Corvette
The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette has not yet been crash-tested and it still lacks key active safety features.
The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette features GM’s new electrical architecture, but oddly it lacks the key active safety features of forward collision warnings with automatic emergency braking. Neither of the agencies that perform crash tests have tested the C8 yet. Without those ratings, we can’t give it a safety rating.
Chevrolet makes only front and side airbags, a rearview camera, and rear park assist standard on the 2020 Corvette. The 2LT and 3LT models add GM’s rear camera mirror, front and rear view cameras, rear cross-traffic alerts, and blind-spot monitors. We find the Corvette’s lack of modern safety features disturbing.
2020 Chevrolet Corvette
Every 2020 Chevrolet Corvette comes well equipped, but be sure to go for the Z51 Performance Package.
Chevrolet is starting over with the 2020 Corvette and the first models are the coupe and convertible Stingrays. Buyers can get a Z51 Performance Package to add some power and handling, but higher-performance models like the Grand Sport, Z06, and ZR1 are yet to come. Still, the Stingray is offered with a variety of equipment sets and the price is right for the performance. With its large and easy-to-use touchscreen and variety of options, we rate the Corvette a 7 for features. We also find it a good value for the money.
Chevrolet offers the 2020 Corvette Stingray in 1LT, 2LT, and 3LT trim levels. The 1LT starts at about $61,000 and comes standard with LED headlights, a 12.0-inch digital instrument cluster, eight-way power-adjustable sport seats, leather upholstery, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, a 10-speaker Bose audio system, HD radio, satellite radio, an 8.0-inch center touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth with near field communications, OnStar and Chevrolet Connected Services, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power tilt and telescope steering column, remote start, and 19-inch front and 20-inch rear alloy wheels.
Our ideal Corvette would be the 2LT with the $5,000 Z51 Performance Package and the $1,895 magnetic dampers for about $74,000. The 2LT adds a 14-speaker Bose audio system, navigation, front and rear vision cameras, a head-up display, heated and cooled seats with power lumbar adjustments, a heated steering wheel, memory for both seats, GM’s rear camera mirror, a theft-deterrent system, and wireless phone charging.
The top-of-the-line 3LT trim costs about $71,000, and comes with GT2 bucket seats with nappa leather upholstery, extended leather upholstery with a synthetic suede wrap on the upper panels, and Chevy’s Performance Data Recorder that takes video and reports track times.
2020 Chevrolet Corvette
The Corvette is thirsty but it’s fuel economy remains reasonable given its power.
The change to the Corvette’s design has a minor effect on fuel economy. Its city rating is lower, but its highway rating is higher, and it gets the same combined rating as the C7 Corvette. It remains a fairly thirsty car and we rate it a 3 out of 10 for fuel economy.
The EPA rates the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette at 15 mpg city, 27 highway, 19 combined. That compares to 16/25/19 mpg for the 2019 model.
Chevrolet outfits the 6.2-liter V-8 with cylinder deactivation to improve fuel economy. Under light load conditions, half the cylinders shut down.