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The New Mid-Engine 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Debuts

Santa Ana, CA - Starting this fall, the Corvette will come with a mid-engine, starting a new chapter in the life of this iconic model. People have been talking about it for over fifty years and GM engineers were designing mid-engine prototypes as far back as the 60s. The father of the Corvette, Zora Arkus-Duntov, came up with a number of concepts for such a version; the first of them was the CERV (Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle). In the 1970s, Chevy developed the XP-880 and XP-882 concepts, the projects advancing to the point where the 1973 Corvette was supposed to have a mid-engine. It wasn’t to be, and it will have taken until 2020 for it to become a reality.

New dynamic
Moving from a front engine to a central configuration completely changes the styling of a car. The new Corvette does share some important visual DNA with the model we know so well, notably in the presentation of the grille that retains a certain familiar style.

But the low and short front part contrasts with the long snout of the C7 generation. The roofline is sloping to maximize aerodynamics. As in many exotic cars, there are giant openings at the front and sides to control airflow and channel it to cool the brakes., while the openings on the side send fresh oxygen to the engine.

Photo: Chevrolet

Just like the C7 before it, the C8 does not have visible door handles, but push buttons to keep maintain the integrity of the body’s line. The new version has two distinct cargo spaces, one at the front and one at the rear under the tailgate. The two add up to 357 litres of storage space.

The quad exhaust tips are located on the outer ends of the vehicle with two-element LED tail lights with animated turn signals. As the ground clearance is very low, the Corvette comes with a front suspension that lifts the car about 40mm at the front bumper in 2.8 seconds, helping protect against bumps, potholes and speed bumps on the road. The system can be operated at a speed of up to 37 km/h and programmed to operate automatically via GPS, with the ability to memorize up to 1,000 locations.

The structure of the Corvette is built around its spine: the central tunnel. This allows for a light and rigid structure to serve as a base for the suspension system so it can work optimally.

Photo: Chevrolet

The tanks and the front and rear dashboard are molded into an ultralight "floating" material derived from fiberglass and resin. This material is so light that it can actually float in the water. It works with other variants of fibreglass and carbon fibre to reduce weight noise and vibration.

Chevrolet is also offering the choice of 12 body colours, including two shades each of red and grey, as well as white, black, silver, blue, orange, bronze and yellow.

Inside
The approach in designing the interior of a mid-engine car is completely different. The cockpit has migrated forward by 420 mm with the engine now behind it, and the cabin overall is more enveloping. It’s also quite small, so everything is also designed to maximize the space available. For example, the small vertical climate controls and ultra-thin air vents are take up the least amount of space possible.

Photo: Chevrolet

The new small-diameter flat steering wheel provides an unobstructed view of the 12-inch configurable display screen in front of the driver. You also have the choice of six seat belt colours, generous use of metal and carbon fibre and stainless steel speaker grilles for the 10- or 14-speaker Bose audio system. You can choose six different interior colours including jet black, cool red, yellow and orange.

You also have three seating options. The GT1 seats offer a good driving position and prioritize comfort. They include a Mulan leather trim and optional two-way lumbar support.

The GT2 seats are race-inspired but contain high density foam to maintain a certain level of comfort. They include carbon-fibre trim, a Napa leather insert, Mulan leather bolsters, jet black backrest and two-way lumbar support.

Photo: Chevrolet

The last option is to go whole hog with the Sport Competition seats, meant for those who plane to do some weekend on-track driving. The seat carving is more aggressive, offering serious side mounts, full Napa leather surfaces and carbon-fibre trims on the headrest and heating and ventilation, as well as a brand-new durable textile inspired by Kevlar jackets.

Embedded technologies include a faster, simpler, new-generation infotainment system with higher-resolution display, one-touch Bluetooth wireless charging and voice recognition with real-time traffic.

Still a V8
The heart of the Corvette remains a V8 engine. Chevrolet is putting its money on its atmospheric 6.2L mill that will here produce 495 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque, which translates into the highest performance ever for an entry-level Corvette engine - when equipped with a performance exhaust.

Photo: Chevrolet

For the first time ever, the basic Stingray version will use a dry sump oil system mounted on the engine and three recovery pumps to improve track performance. A lightweight 3.2 mm thick glass panel on the tailgate allows owners to show off the engine. This panel has a cantilevered trailing edge to remove heat from the engine compartment.

The LT2 engine is paired with Chevrolet's first 8-speed dual-clutch transmission, which offers ultra-fast gear changes and excellent power transfer. This DCT is coupled to a new electronic transmission range selector. With this electric gear selector, there’s no mechanical interface between the gear lever and the transmission. The Corvette's electric gear selector includes two buttons for Reverse and Drive and push buttons for Park, Neutral and Low/Manual. This transmission has been specially designed with TREMEC.

Goodbye manual
Chevrolet is therefore making like most exotic car manufacturers and eliminating the manual gearbox from the catalogue. The driver will have to fall back on the paddle shifters, which come with performance algorithms that adapt to the driver’s style.

The new Corvette’s engineers configured the box with a very low first gear in order to take advantage of the extra grip for the car to take off quickly. Its close ratio between 2nd and 6th gear keeps the engine close to the power peak. The 7th and 8th speeds allow easy navigation over long distances for better fuel economy.

Photo: Chevrolet

Promising driving dynamics
Thanks to the C8’s rigid structure, near-perfect weight distribution and lower centre of gravity, we expect pretty extraordinary performance. Chevrolet has installed sophisticated suspension geometry with coil dampers that create totally new driving and handling characteristics.

The central-engine architecture allows for a short, straight and rigid steering system, combined with an updated electronic steering system, making chassis reactions faster through the first application of Michelin's all-season performance tire that can reach near 1G in turns.

You can also opt for the Z51 Performance Package, which offers performance suspension with manually adjustable threaded springs, larger brake discs with Z51 logos on the calipers, a unique axle ratio and performance exhaust.

You also have a limited-slip electronic differential built into the transaxle that modulates the torque between the rear tires, allowing the vehicle to remain stable no matter what you try to put it through, or almost. A front splitter and a two-part open rear wing add 181.4 kg (400 lb) of downforce while improving cornering grip.

Photo: Chevrolet

You also have a limited-slip electronic differential built into the transaxle that modulates the torque between the rear tires, allowing the vehicle to remain stable no matter what you try to put it through, or almost. A front splitter and a two-part open rear wing add 181.4 kg (400 lb) of downforce while improving cornering grip.

You can also choose the optional Magnetic Ride Control 4.0 that reads the road better and provides more accurate data via accelerometers mounted on the suspension. Its improved electronic components respond faster and smoother to the driver's inputs and contribute to better ride quality.

Conclusion
The starting price for the 8th-generation 2020 Chevrolet Corvette is $72,495 CAD, and the model is expected at dealership near the end of the year. No information as of yet regarding other variants. There are strong rumours, however, that the company’s 5.5L supercharged V8 engine could end up in a future Z06 version with around 700 hp. Chevrolet is even alluding to a possible hybrid version inspired by the likes of the NSX, Porsche 918 and McLaren P1 with a possibility of 1000 horses. Place your bets.

Photo: Chevrolet
Photos:Chevrolet
2020 Chevrolet Corvette pictures