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A silver convertible 2020 Chevy Corvette is shown from above with red seats.

Mid-Engine is Beautiful or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the 2020 ‘Vette

The 2020 Chevy Corvette was only recently fully unveiled, and already the whining has begun. The internet is awash in classic Corvette lovers who have no shortage of opinions regarding the (admittedly reasonably radical) redesign of the Stingray and all it has to offer. I get it – it’s new, it’s different, it’s scary! But the reality is this: there’s nothing to be afraid of because the new look is a work of inspired genius inside and out.

If you’ve already made up your mind to hate the new look of the 2020 Chevy Corvette, then so be it. That’s the kind of world we live in – some opinions are simply formed so fast and so strongly that nothing can bend or change them. On the other hand, if you’re on the fence or not sure what to think of this bold redesign, then give me a chance to make an argument in favor of it. When all is said and done, I might not sway you to see things my way, but at least you’ll know you were open to the brazen newness of it all.

Good for you!

The Mid-Engine Design is a Dream Come True

The engine bay is shown from above on a red 2020 Chevy Corvette.

For years, honestly decades, people have been hoping for a mid-engine Corvette. We’ve been teased with concept cars and test designs that never came to fruition, but now at long last, the 2020 Chevy Corvette makes those dreams come true. And of course, the first thing that happens is a lot of people complain about how it doesn’t look like the traditional Corvette. Well yeah – obviously it’s not going to look like the same old car.

A shift to mid-engine design wasn’t simply something done by Chevy’s engineers because they were bored and had run out of ideas. The early word was that this new direction was due to them having reached the limits of what a front-engine performance car was cable of doing. Mid-engine placement means far superior handling and a better experience overall with the engine right there with the rear wheels where all the power is going anyway.

The mid-engine design also creates an interesting new feature that I’ve got to say is one of my favorite standout aspects of the 2020 Chevy Corvette. There’s a window behind the cockpit that lets you look down into the vehicle and see the engine itself. It’s a great feature that immediately makes the new Corvette stand out and be its own thing on the road crowded with a lot of other sports cars out there. Plus there’s a package that adds lighting to this area to really dial up the “wow” factor. Is it essential? No – but it’s just plain cool!

 

The Engine – Seriously, THE ENGINE!

While we’re talking about the engine, let’s go beyond where they stuck the thing and actually look at what it has to offer. For comparison’s sake, the LT1 engine from the C7 Corvette, like the 2019 model, is a 6.2L V8 that offers up to 455 hp and 460 lb.-ft. of torque in the baseline version. I’ll also mention that the crazy ZR1 model currently available has a beastly 755 hp engine that can go from 0 – 60 in just 2.8 seconds. Remember that for later.

By comparison, the new 2020 Chevy Corvette has the updated LT2 engine, which is still a 6.2L V8 but now can provide up to 495 hp and 470 lb.-ft. of torque with the available performance exhaust setup. That’s the baseline version of the 2020 Corvette – any possible information about future versions, like a ZR1 model, have not been revealed but it’ll be interesting to see if Chevy has something in the works. Either way, the point is that this improved engine can do some serious work and it is dedicated rear-wheel drive for optimal put-you-back-in-your-seat-edness (that’s a word, look it up).

If we’re going to talk about the engine, we also have to talk about the transmission. Here’s another place where some old diehards are going to complain – and I say, let them complain, we’ll be out here having fun. The old manual transmission has been replaced by an incredibly responsive Tremec 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. There’s no loss of acceleration when this thing shifts gears, so it feels incredible.

There are paddle shifters on the steering wheel if you need to feel in control of your ride, and that’s understandable. But before you lament the loss of a manual transmission too much, take a moment to consider this: the 2020 Chevy Camaro can go from 0 – 60 in less than 3.0 seconds. We don’t know the precise number just yet, but it’s got to be close to the current 2019 Corvette ZR1, which has that 755 hp engine I mentioned earlier. That’s how awesome this dual-clutch transmission is.

The New Front End – Or: Size Doesn’t Matter

One of the biggest complaints going around hot off the full reveal of the 2020 Chevy Corvette is about the new, shorter front-end. Moving the engine to behind the cockpit requires more room in the middle of the chassis, so the front end is shorter, and the cabin has been moved more than a foot forward compared to the 2019 model. Looking at the newest generation Corvette can be a bit startling at first, I’ll give you that, but once the initial shock wears off, it is clearly a ‘Vette.

The Stingray swoops are still there on the front end, and the overall shape and design is unmistakably a powerful performance vehicle. From the outcries happening online, you’d think this was Chevy’s version of Jennifer Grey having rhinoplasty done: a cosmetic change that made a distinct beauty unrecognizable. But I feel no such error has occurred.

A red 2020 Chevy Corvette is shown driving around a corner.

Yes, the front-end of the 2020 Chevy Corvette is certainly different from the classics that have come before, but it’s not worse – just different. I get it, the front-end of the classic Corvette has been an unmistakable trait for generations, and that’s great. But it’s a new generation, and the long front end on a mid-engine car would be ridiculous.

The overall aggressive and powerful design of the new Corvette works well and moves your eye naturally from front to back. It’s slick, sleek, and makes an immediate statement about the nature of the car before you. Sometimes carmakers try new things just to try them and the result is usually an unnecessary error that makes you go nuts waiting for them to change things back (looking at you touchscreen volume controls). With the power and handling of the new Corvette, however, I don’t think we’ve seen that kind of mistake – this is a change for the sake of improvement and progress to provide power.

In the End…

…what I say really doesn’t matter. The 2020 Chevy Corvette has been designed and unveiled, and very little is likely to change before it is released sometime in early 2020. However, Chevrolet has clearly taken a risk and a gamble with this new design, from the placement and power of the engine to the overall change in shape and form. Will it pay off?

That’s the big question, and one we’ll have to wait and see the answer to. Ultimately, this is a high-performance vehicle, so it’s something of a niche option that might make a lot of drivers drool, but only a small number can actually buy it. I hope it does well and shows Chevy and other manufacturers that bold risks and choices that make cars more powerful, fun to drive, and relevant are a good thing. But time will tell.

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