2021 Corvette New Car Test Drive
Chevrolet topped the news from the automotive world with its announcement of the boldly redesigned 2020 Corvette Stingray. Echoing a long-ago prediction by Zora Arkus-Duntov, considered the “father” of the Corvette, the C8 generation has switched to a mid-engine configuration. After nearly 70 years, the conventional front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout has faded into history.
Adopting such a radical change gives Chevy license to claim supercar-level performance for the Corvette, known throughout its life as “America's sports car.” Bountiful power and intensified traction have reduced 0-60 mph acceleration to a startling 2.9 seconds, in a Corvette equipped with the Z51 package.
As before, the Corvette comes in coupe and convertible form, but a manual transmission is no longer available. For now, every Corvette Stingray gets the same 6.2-liter V-8 engine. Fitted with a new aluminum block, it generates 490 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. Adding the Z51 package boosts output to 495 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque.
The electronically controlled 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission can be shifted manually using steering-wheel paddles. A low-ratio first gear was developed to take advantage of the V-8's available power. Middle-range gears (2 through 6) are close-ratio, but tall top gears promise greater fuel economy ? similar to that of the outgoing Corvette.
Considering the available power, fuel economy isn't horrible. The Corvette is EPA-rated at 15 mpg city, 27 highway, and 19 combined. Under light load conditions, half of the cylinders shut down to boost fuel economy a bit.
Although the Corvette has adopted GM's latest electrical architecture, some vital active safety features have been omitted: most notably, forward-collision warnings and automatic emergency braking. Such an omission is troubling, considering that many moderately-priced cars now make those items available, and often standard.
Only front and side airbags, a rearview camera, and rear parking sensors are standard on the base Corvette. The 2LT and 3LT trim levels add GM's rear camera mirror, a surround-view camera system, blind-spot monitors, and rear cross-traffic alert.
Outward visibility has improved with the new mid-engine design, creating clearer sightlines to both the front ? past a hood that falls away quickly ? and the sides. The mid-engine design places the driver farther forward than usual, creating a better sense of where the car is headed.
Views through the rear window, in contrast, are restricted. That's a problem with the base model, but upper trim levels include a rear camera mirror that provides a clear display of the rearward view.
The Corvette is offered in three trim levels: 1LT, 2LT, and 3LT. Prices include a $1,095 destination charge.
The base 1LT starts at $59,995 and comes with LED headlights, leather upholstery, 19-inch front and 20-inch rear alloy wheels, a 12.0-inch digital instrument cluster, eight-way power-adjustable seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power tilt-and-telescopic steering column, a 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot, a 10-speaker Bose audio system, HD and satellite radio, Bluetooth, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
The $67,295 2LT adds heated and cooled seats with power lumbar adjustment, a heated steering wheel, memory for both seats, a 14-speaker Bose audio system, navigation, a surround-view camera system, a head-up display, GM's rear camera mirror, and wireless charging.
The 3LT costs $71,945 and comes with GT2 bucket seats, extended leather upholstery, and synthetic suede wrapped upper panels. A Performance Data Recorder can take video and report track lap times.
For $5,000, the Z51 Performance Package includes a performance-tuned suspension with threaded spring seats to adjust dampers, bigger brakes, additional cooling, a unique axle ratio, and a performance exhaust. Magnetic Selective Ride Control also is available.