2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Fast Facts
6.2-liter V8 (495 horsepower @ 6,450 rpm; 470 lb-ft @ 5,150 rpm)
Eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic; rear-wheel drive
15 city / 27 highway / 19 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
15.4 city, 8.7 highway, 12.4 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
Base Price: $58,900 (U.S) / $67,898 (Canada)
As Tested: $79,315 (U.S.) / $92,953 (Canada)
Prices include $1,095 destination charge in the United States and $2,200 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.
I was cruising along Interstate 55 somewhere southwest of Chicago when I came upon a Mercedes SUV that was continually adjusting speed. Annoyed by someone who couldn’t maintain a constant speed in the passing lane, I dipped the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette I was driving into the right lane and tried to carefully weave my way through scattered traffic and work my way past the schlub.
It was only as I leisurely passed by that I saw the raised smartphone camera. Even in the dark of night, the C8 Corvette stands out, and I was now a temporary celebrity, about to be put into someone’s camera roll – or posted to their social-media accounts – whether I liked it or not.
That’s not unusual when one drives a supercar. I got that kind of attention when piloting an Acura NSX some time back – I was even asked if I was an actor, thanks to that tester’s California plates, despite the fact that my looks are more Buscemi than Clooney.
But I didn’t expect that in the ‘Vette. Because I forgot, at least at first, to take into account how different this one is from its predecessors. I was still in the “Corvettes are a dime a dozen!” mindset.
I should’ve known the wedge-shaped, mid-engined Corvette would turn all eyes on me. Not just because it’s so different from the C7. But because the styling all but screams “supercar”.
So does the performance, as you’ll see shortly. But the price says something different. It says “relatively affordable, if you’re relatively well off.” Indeed, the C8 shown here actually cost just a bit less than either the Dodge Charger Hellcat or Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 I wrote about recently.
Honestly, it’s a bargain.
You will likely not be shocked when I tell you that the car offers acceleration that seems to warp space and time, thanks to the 6.2-liter V8 (495 hp/470 lb-ft) that sits just inches behind your head. The lack of an available manual transmission – your only choice is an eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic – does suck some of the fun out of the proceedings (paddles just aren’t the same), but only a little bit.
Indeed, it’s a miracle I got through my loan without talking to an officer of the law. The temptation to drop the hammer is always there, and rarely resisted.
Corvettes have always been about more than just straight-line speed, though. They’re also supposed to be prolific handlers. Yes, previous-generation cars – especially before the C7 – had a reputation for sending drivers into the weeds after ham-fisted maneuvers, but there was also high reward for the risk.
Not so with this car – it’s a sharp, focused cornering tool that nonetheless feels somewhat more forgiving. Yes, I could still sense, at times, that pushing too hard would lead to expensive consequences. But I felt like the leash was a bit longer than with past Corvettes I’ve wheeled, and more importantly, the car was better at letting me know that doom was, if not impending, at least visible.
The car’s reflexes don’t just come in handy when attacking some curvy country road. During a gentle cruise down a suburban two-lane, I came upon the remains of an unfortunate raccoon that had met its maker via vehicular impact. If I’d been driving almost anything else, I’d have cleared the corpse with ease. But at the last second I remember that the Corvette’s ground clearance is so low that Chevy has made available a system that can temporarily raise the car when the driver encounters driveways or speedbumps.
I had space on either side, so a couple of quick flicks of the wheel later, I was back on the straight and narrow and the mortal remains of this particular Procyon lotor remained free from desecration, at least for the moment.
Perhaps more importantly, the Corvettes Eightus remained unblemished. Which, save for a small scratch on the removable roof due to clumsiness on the part of yours truly (see below), is how it was returned to its rightful owners.
A lot of credit for the car’s dynamics go to the optional Z51 Package ($5,000), which is pretty much required if you plan on track driving and gives the short/long arm double-wishbone (front and rear) suspension even more of a performance tune and also adds Brembo brakes with larger rotors, Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires (19s in front, 20s in the rear) instead of all-seasons, performance exhaust, better cooling, front-brake cooling inlets, electronic limited-slip differential, different axle ratio that makes the final-drive ration 5.2:1, and a rear spoiler.
You can get a magnetic ride-control system with the Z51 Package, but my test vehicle did not have it. Based on what I’ve read elsewhere, I’d opt for it. I would definitely opt for the Z51 Package even if I never tracked this car.
So, the Corvette is fast and handles well. Big whoop, you say. It’s supposed to do that.
Well, yes. But the genius of this car is how well-behaved it is when you aren’t pushing it. While the C7 was mostly smooth during freeway jaunts, the C8 is so relaxed you almost forget what it can do. It reminded me of the NSX, when that car was put into Quiet mode.
Speaking of modes, the Corvette carries over the Weather, Tour, Sport, and Track drive modes from before and adds a configurable MyMode (which the car will remember) and a Z Mode, which adds engine and transmission adjustments to MyMode. As you might expect, the car’s responses improve in Sport and Track mode, and whoever set up the Z Mode in my car got it so right that I left it alone.
Get a wild hair, and it’s easy to adjust all the modes, but the Z Mode can be activated with just the press of a steering-wheel button.
No car is perfect, and while this car is a delight to drive, it also has its flaws. For example, while the ride isn’t as stiff as you might expect from a low-slung sports car, it’s not soft, either. You will occasionally get punished by a pock-marked road.
Entry and exit aren’t great if you’re like me – tall, overweight, and past the party years of adulthood. At least the seats – once the bane of any Corvette driver’s existence – are acceptable in terms of comfort, though perhaps not for hauls longer than an hour. This car was fitted with the optional GT2 buckets.
Aside from the exterior styling – which grew on me and looks better in person than in pictures – and the placement of the engine and the lack of a clutch pedal, the most controversial aspect of the newest ‘Vette is in the interior layout. Specifically, the line of buttons that lays atop the divider between driver and passenger. It seems like GM designers came up with a sleek, sexy cockpit and then forgot they needed to put in buttons for basic functions.
And yes, it looks awkward. Just as awkward in person as in pictures. But it’s not that hard to get used to, in terms of actually operating the various functions.
Then there’s the operation of the removable roof panel. You can do it by yourself, but it would be easier with two people, and somehow I managed to cause a small scratch along the edge in the process of removing it for photos.
Storage is limited, especially with the top stowed.
Other key standard or available features on a 2LT trim ($7,300) Corvette like this test unit include run-flat tires, dual-zone climate control, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, satellite radio, Bose audio, remote start, keyless entry and starting, navigation, head-up display, curb-view camera, rear-camera mirror, heated and cooled seats, performance data recorder, heated steering wheel, wireless charger, and front-lift adjustable height.
A car that two of us named “best of” last year. All for a hair under $80K.
There are other cars that are this fast, handle this well, and draw as much attention. But almost all of them cost significantly more – the NSX bases at nearly twice the price for a similar experience, though its complex hybrid system likely costs more to engineer and build, to be fair.
Yes, you could have a hoot of a performance car that has four doors and can haul four humans in comfort if you buy a Charger Hellcat. You could have a rear seat, in theory, and a regular-sized trunk in a Shelby Mustang. And those cars are also fast and fun to drive and similarly priced. But they aren’t super.
Yet the C8, especially with the Z51 Package, handles better than either. It’s faster – or at least has a slightly better 0-60 time – than either. Driving it is an event.
If you don’t need rear seats or much luggage/cargo space, and if you can stand the attention, the Corvette C8 is an excellent supercar at a bargain price.
Ed. note: We are trying a tweak to our review format, starting with this one. See below. We welcome any feedback you may have.
What’s New for 2020
The Corvette is completely redesigned and is now mid-engined. A manual transmission is no longer available.
Who Should Buy This Car
Those who can accept that changing an icon is sometimes for the better.
[Images © 2021 Tim Healey/TTAC]