General

Still the best budget supercar on the market

C8 Chevrolet Corvette Malibu HC Logo

When Chevrolet announced that the iconic Corvette would finally get a real facelift, starting at a sticker under $60,000, the news almost sounded too good to be true. Finally, a true mid-engined American performance car within the reach of average enthusiasts – instead of Ford’s impressive but unattainable GT.

However, the C8’s design caused some consternation due to an angular, gaudy exterior and a unique interior that envelops the driver in an ergonomically flawed cockpit. And yet, more than two years after the first Corvette deliveries hit the market, I was still excited to test one out and find out if this budget-oriented borderline supercar keeps so many promises made for decades.


Well equipped for almost $90,000

Of course, Chevrolet sent me a maximum Corvette Stingray equipped with the 3LT and Z51 option groups, plus the Magnetic Selective Ride Control Suspension (Mag Ride) and even a front-axle lift setup. All the goodies cost nearly an extra 50% over a base Corvette, leading to a total price tag of $88,225 including a destination surcharge of $1,295.

Specifications:

  • Body Style: Coupe, Convertible
  • Drivetrain layout: Mid-engine, RWD
  • chairs: 2
  • Decorations: 1LT, 2LT, 3LT
  • Original basic suggested retail price: $60,900
  • Engine/Engine: 6.2 liter V8
  • horsepower: 495 hp
  • Couple: 470 lb-ft
  • Drive: RWD
  • Transfer: 8-speed DCT
Pros

  • Mid-engine balance and handling
  • Customizable Driving Modes
  • Supercar performance at an incredible price
  • Ventilated bucket seats
cons

  • Angular exterior design
  • Uncomfortable interior ergonomics
  • Options add up quickly

Mounting a dry-sump V8 amidships

Simply put, moving the engine behind the cockpit of the C8 turns America’s most iconic sports car into a cross-border supercar. That 6.2-liter LT2 V8 features dry-sump lubrication to prevent oil shortages during hard corners and pumps out 495 horsepower, more than the 490 horses of the “base” model thanks to the Z51’s upgraded exhaust. Those numbers may not sound very impressive given Dodge’s absurd Hellcat Hemis, but the V8’s placement and linear low-end torque, which peaks at 470 lb-ft, makes a 0-60 time in under three seconds. Chevy also threw in an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with an electronically controlled limited-slip differential to effectively channel that power to the ground.


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Power takes a backseat

The powertrain stats sound good on paper, but a tight corner in the C8 reveals just how much the mid-engine takes up a metaphorical (and somewhat literal) backseat in driving dynamics. With Mag Ride set to the most aggressive mode, a set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires at 305 millimeters in length at the rear, it inspires rider confidence enough to typically let out a little more throttle from the tops than recommended. Even with the traction control fully engaged, breaking loose from the rear feels both easy and predictable.

Best of all, the Mag Ride can also be softened for urban riding – playing with the different settings for handlebar weight, brake feel, shift points and exhaust sound gave me plenty of opportunity to tweak my riding style over the course of my two weeks with the C8. In town or canyons, the impressive system almost completely masks a relatively hefty curb weight of 3,647 pounds.

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Everything adjustable to fidget

Unfortunately, the actual system of playing with those riding modes left me wanting better most of the time. An odd leather-covered dial controls several presets, but navigating between modes creates a massive lag on the 12-inch touchscreen. The gauge cluster shows changes faster and switches between displays for information, including tachometer, speedometer and tire pressure. I ended up adapting the aptly named My Mode for city riding, allowing me to select the firmest handlebar weight with everything else comfortable. At every opportunity to ride aggressively, I used the Z button on the handlebars to push all options to their most hardcore.


Z-Mode and Track Mode hint at trackside potential for C8 buyers, as does a g-force meter, built-in lap timer and data logger. But clicking out of Z mode also causes a bit of frustration, as the computer reverts to standard Tour mode, rather than My mode, where the lightest steering option feels almost boat-like and verging on unsettling.

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Questionable interior ergonomics

The rest of the interior reveals similar trade-offs between striking design and performance potential. A set of upgraded seats have firm bolsters to keep driver and passenger in place during hard cornering (and on my 3LT, solid air-conditioning vent). But the layout of the buttons on the center console just baffles the mind, which was designed completely to error.


Pros include a surprisingly square handlebar that I’ve come to love (save for an oddly small gap above the flat bottom), plenty of headroom, excellent use of external cameras given the minimal visibility, and the gauge cluster itself. I definitely don’t need the removable targa-style roof, though, and cockpit storage similarly seems like an afterthought (especially the cordless phone charging dock mounted vertically behind the armrest). All functions undoubtedly contribute to the weight of the C8, which is especially noticeable during hard braking. rotors.

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How to specify a C8

Still, I returned the Corvette, absolutely stunned by the level of budget performance, convinced that Chevrolet had somehow packed 70% of a McLaren 600LT into a package that cost a quarter to a third the cost. With competition at a comparable price limited to Porsche 718 Boxster and siblings Cayman, plus the forthcoming Lotus Emira, buyers in the market just need to decide if they can live with the styling.

Would I buy one? The design and ergonomics give me a serious break. If I did, a stripper 1LT with just the Mag-Ride suspension added as a standalone option sounds like the best bet, but then I lose creature comforts like my beloved seat vent.

Probably the best feature of the C8, if Chevy reps tell the full story, concerns today’s insane car market – apparently you can easily get a “base” Corvette, most likely because everyone wants to wait for the more desirable Z06, hybrid and electric versions . Those upcoming variants will likely make little difference to the interior design, though, and dealer prices will likely eclipse six figures easily, almost ruining the budget-friendly aspect that makes the current Stingray so appealing in the first place.

However, the truth remains that throwing serious power into such an impressive chassis almost sounds too good to be true, especially with the Z06’s smoother exterior design. Surprisingly, despite the interior layout, the C8’s front and rear cases offer solid storage capacity, so stay tuned for our next video that focuses on the mid-engine Corvette’s capabilities and comfort when used as a daily driver.


Sources: chevrolet.com, youtube.com, michelinman.com and porsche.com.


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