So, you’ve been a lifelong ‘Vette fan. You’ve watched the evolution of America’s most beloved sports car for decades. Generation after generation, you have kept up with what’s new, what returns, what is better, what can be improved. You can rattle off horsepower and engine size statistics from the 1960s to today. You may have lost a friend or two who foolishly defended the Ford Mustang in your presence. You know everything there is to know about the Chevrolet Corvette. Now, throw it all out. The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette is about to change everything.
The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette will begin full-time production in September, and once Chevy has fulfilled the last of the needs for the 2019 model year. They are going to have to start entirely from scratch. Everything is different. It has a new look, it has a new transmission, and it has a new engine placement. The eighth-generation Chevy Corvette is a radical departure from everything the Corvette has been for more than fifty years. However, not everyone will be overly enthusiastic about the changes.
Car people are weird people, as with any area that has a devoted fan base. But, perhaps no area of car people are as dedicated as those of the sports car. It is an area that has a lot of bragging rights on the line. Pickup trucks are like that, to an extent. But sports cars have such a unique fan base that the battle for the top spot takes on a different level of competition. You have highly exclusive auto exhibitions, racing competitions, publications, and television shows that drool over the muscle found in these cars. Other classes of automobiles don’t get quite the same fawning over that sports cars do.
But weird is good, at least in this sense. It shows a devotion to ingenuity and creativity. Those are areas that the automotive world has never been lacking. Consumers are consistently amazed at what automakers dream up next. All around the world, from Detroit to Germany to Japan and everywhere in between, designers are trying to outthink each other, and the consumers are the ones reaping the benefits. The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette proves this.
No other class of car (truck or SUV) has to walk the tightrope between modernity and history like the sports car. They can’t stray too far from the classic look or feel of the sports car, but they can’t just keep putting the same car out there year after year. There has to be room for growth, but there can’t be too much change. It is kind of like parents wanting their children to stay the same age forever, but deep down knowing they can’t.
Well, after 65+ years, the 2020 Chevy Corvette has done some significant changing. It has entered a new stage of life. Some people will appreciate the changes and see them as an improvement. Some people will wish the seventh generation hadn’t ended so soon. It will be up to you to decide which side you fall on. We are fairly certain you will have a lot of company either way.
Engine and Performance
Let us start with the engine. This is the first Corvette since the Eisenhower administration to have a mid-engine placement. That means that the engine is not in the front of the car, the traditional placement for Chevy Corvette engines (and most other vehicles altogether). It is located in the middle of the car. This redesign vastly affects other design elements, such as steering, transmission, and the exterior, which we will get to later on.
As of now, only one engine has been announced, though we expect more engine options in the near future. Corvettes of the past have had multiple options, and we can’t see why the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette would be any different. The base engine is a 6.2 liter V8 with 490 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque. This engine also has an available performance package, the Z51 package, that adds a sport exhaust system. This will bump the horsepower and torque up to 495 and 470, respectively. It will also allegedly allow the Corvette (in this case, the Stingray) to go from 0-60 within three seconds. That seems like a pretty astonishing engine, so we can’t wait to see what else Chevy will add in the near future.
Because the 2020 Chevy Corvette has a mid-engine placement, the exterior had to be pretty much completely redesigned. It is for multiple reasons, but the primary ones are space and cooling. The cab has been moved forward by more than afoot. That may not seem like much, but when you are used to the long hoods of sports cars, the forward cab and the shorter hood will make you feel much closer to the road than the 16 inches that the mid-engine placement moved you.
Since the engine is in the middle of the car, cooling this beast becomes more of a challenge than a typical redesign. To that end, the engineers had to put air intakes all over the exterior. They did so on the front, rear, and sides. But not to worry, they ingeniously hid them along with the sleek, aerodynamic design of the Corvette. The back of the Corvette also had to make concessions for the mid-engine placement but is still very easily recognizable as a Corvette. You still get the iconic Corvette wing and taillight cluster, so don’t worry there. All in all, the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette looks like an imaginative and very modern Chevy sports car, but you do actually have to try to see the classic Corvette in it.
(Lack of) Transmission Options
The transmission issue is where things get a little… shifty. Auto purists will maintain that you cannot have a sports car without a manual transmission, and it is hard to argue with them. After all, the look and feel of the manual transmission go hand in hand with the sports car. Chevy didn’t follow this for three reasons.
First, the seventh generation of the Corvette (C7) had options for both manual or automatic. Chevy found the automatic to be considerably more popular. Second, the automatic transmission has been vastly improved for the eighth generation. Third, and perhaps most importantly, is because of the mid-engine placement. In order to have a manual transmission, they would have had to create a shaft big enough to house it. That would compromise the structural integrity of the Corvette, and they certainly didn’t want that. You can, however, have semi-manual shifting via paddle shifters on the steering wheel, but it just isn’t the same. Either way, the transmission debate looks to be one of the more divisive issues that Chevy will face with the 2020 Corvette.
Whatever side you eventually take on the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette, there is no denying it has a lot to offer. And we have only just scratched the surface of its future potential. Once General Motors stops being so stingy with the details and finally, FINALLY lets this beast out on the streets, we will all have a much more clear idea of what it brings to the table. Some of us have been waiting for decades for a mid-engine Corvette; many of us weren’t even alive when the last one was out. Perhaps this is Chevy’s way of wiping the slate clean and reinventing a classic.
As with any redesign, Chevy is playing a very dangerous game. It is even more dangerous to play, though, with an icon like the Chevrolet Corvette. There is very little middle ground here between love and hate. As we said, car people are weird. Good luck, Chevrolet.