Tustin, California - Chevrolet’s Corvette nameplate has just undergone its most radical transformation in its 66-year history, with the 2020 Stingray shifting from a front to a mid-engined layout.
This set-up is often considered the holy grail of sports car configurations, as it allows better responsiveness, balance and sense of control, as the driver sits closer to the front axle.
Dynamically this layout should also put it into closer contention with the rear-engined Porsche 911, although in its home market the Corvette will cost almost half the price of a Carrera S, with General Motors promising a base price of under $60 000 (or about R830 000 in rand speak). But with The General having exited our market, the new ‘Vette will remain a forbidden fruit to South Africans, at least for now. The good news is that GM will produce a right-hand-drive version, so perhaps one of our exotic car importers will step up to the plate...
The 2020 Stingray is not just better balanced - it’s also the fastest Corvette ever, with Chevrolet claiming a sub-three-second 0-60mph (96km/h) acceleration time, when equipped with the Z51 Performance Package.
Power is provided by a new-generation normally aspirated 6.2-litre ‘Small Block’ V8 LT2 engine that produces 369kW and 637Nm, when equipped with the performance exhaust. It powers the back wheels through Chevrolet’s first eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox, designed in conjunction with Tremec and featuring a double-paddle de-clutch function.
Chevrolet used a mixed-material strategy for the vehicle’s body and structure, including a main structure consisting of six high-pressure diecast aluminium parts, a set-up that minimises the number of joints and makes for a stiffer structure.
To achieve reasonable on-road comfort, the ‘Vette is available with GM’s Magnetic Ride Control 4.0 adaptive damping system, while its dynamic arsenal includes an electronic limited slip diff to regulate torque distribution between the rear wheels.
“Thanks to sophisticated suspension geometry, tailored tyre technology and exquisite attention to structural details, we have improved ride and handling,” said chief engineer Tadge Juechter. “No Corvette has ever felt so comfortable, nimble and yet completely stable.”
In the words of GM President Mark Reuss: “Corvette has always represented the pinnacle of innovation and boundary-pushing at GM. The traditional front-engine vehicle reached its limits of performance, necessitating the new layout.
“In terms of comfort and fun, it still looks and feels like a Corvette, but drives better than any vehicle in Corvette history. Customers are going to be thrilled with our focus on details and performance across the board.”
The cabin comes with all the luxury trappings you’d expect in a modern premium car, including a new generation high-res infotainment system that's unashamedly angled towards the driver, as well as a digital instrument cluster, a choice between two Bose high-end infotainment systems and a Performance Data Recorder that also includes an in-car high-resolution camera.