The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray for decades has been labeled “America’s Sports Car.” It’s served as the pace car for the Indianapolis 500 a record 16 times since 1978. And for 40 years, the Corvette has been made in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
The General Motors plant is as nationalistic as any manufacturing city. It shares geographic headquarters with other iconic American companies — Holley to Russell, Camping World to Fruit of the Loom.
But Chevy has expanded its motoring preferences outside of Kentucky and its seven bordering states. The debuts of the 2020 C8 Corvette and its 2021 sibling, both delayed in production by the coronavirus pandemic, feature what Chevy considered for decades — a mid-engine.
With diminishing sales for several years, the eighth generation is unlike any previous Corvette. Its engineers, like other renowned American artists, were influenced by European supercar masters from Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren. Some purists were aghast, others welcomed the change.
New Corvette Has Global Aspirations
With a starting price of less than $60,000 and stunning specs — a 6.2-liter V8, top-speed of 194 miles per hour and 0-60 mph in less than three seconds — the new Corvette has global sales aspirations. Chevy hopes its sports car flagship’s reputation, cultivating since 1953, accelerates across continents and into competitors’ domains. It will debut with higher performance packages standard in the United Kingdom within a few months.
The new Corvette also disrupts previous signature traits. An eight-speed, double-clutch transmission replaces a stick shift. Paddle shifters located behind the steering wheel offer more driver participation. Performance all around is enhanced with the z51 package ($5,000).
With its new design, the rear-wheel-drive C8 is longer, wider and 366 pounds heavier than the previous generation. The driver sits a foot closer to the front of the car. The transparent roof is removable and storable in a rear-end compartment. The steering wheel is squared off top and bottom. A healthy growl is prominent at ignition, but as a daily driver or getaway weekend sports car, the Corvette is maturely quiet.
A narrow, angled totem of buttons between the seats operate climate controls and other functions traditionally engaged on the dash. It’s an odd, exotic look and it creates a shared gauge border between occupants. Occupants sit in comfortable cockpits. It’s not a spacious cabin, but there’s more room than in previous Corvette models.
The humbled hood design with its downward pointed nose and lack of an engine below afford a vast view of the road. A flat black stingray ornament adorns the front of the hood, further adding to the innovative design.
Standard technology features impress. An 8-inch angled touchscreen showcases the infotainment offerings included Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, SiriusXM and HD Radio. There are a 10-speaker Bose sound system and a high-definition backup camera. Rear parking sensors, LED headlights, remote start and Chevy’s 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot are also included.
Dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry and start, two power-adjustable seats, a power tilt-and-telescope steering column and a leather-wrapped steering wheel are also in the mix.
Driving modes include Sport, Touring and Z-Mode. The latter allows individualized driver settings. It all complements the performance of the 495 horsepower, two-seat wonder. Beauty is defined inside and outside.
The Corvette’s subjective moniker as “America’s Sports Car” is still valid. But its proud Kentucky heritage and previous manufacturing roots in Michigan and Missouri, now include European lineage. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Facts & Figures: 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 2.8 seconds; Airbags: 4; Fuel economy: 15 mpg, city; 27 mpg, hwy; Horsepower: 495; Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $58,900; Manufacturer’s Website: www.chevrolet.com; Price As Tested: $78,265; Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/60,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 3 years/36,000 miles; Roadside Assistance, 5 years/100,000 miles.