We’re going to dispel some misconceptions you may have heard about the all-new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray right from the get go. Despite all the claims, this is not the first retail mid-engine Corvette. Most recent Corvettes, including the outgoing C7, have placed the engine just behind the front axle.
That, technically, is a mid-engine car. But, this is the first production Corvette to have the engine mounted amid-ships, behind the driver, the colloquial definition of mid-engine.
Next, that engine shift did not make the Corvette any smaller; every dimension except for height has actually increased. Wheelbase is up half an inch; with more than 5-inches of additional overall length. It weighs more too, around 100 pounds more, depending on equipment.
The short/long arm double wishbone suspension is largely the same in front and rear, but now features genuine coil-over shocks in place of the old Vette’s horse and buggy transverse leaf springs, which makes everything much easier to adjust than before; truly a plus for track day enthusiasts.
There are 3 different suspension options. The basic SLA setup, the Z51 handling package, which gets firmer tuning and adds manually adjustable spring seats, and of course you can add Magnetic Ride Control on top of that.
But, while we’re getting all futuristic here; this Vette is still powered by a V8, and one with the cam in its block at that. The new LT2 6.2-liter small block outputs a max of 495-horsepower and 470 lb-ft. of torque for now. No word yet on whether future versions will crank up this engine, or be based on a different one entirely.
Down river from there is a new 8-speed dual-clutch transmission, with paddles mounted on the steering wheel as well as toggles and buttons on the center console for drive, reverse, and park.
For keeping everything at proper operating temperatures, there are twin radiators mounted up front for cooling the engine, and a trans cooler that is mounted directly on top of the transmission itself.
It all works together to deliver fierce acceleration never before attained in a standard Corvette.Thanks to that engine cranking away directly behind you, and 60 miles-per-hour arriving in just under three seconds.
Handling is what spurred the shift in engine placement of course, as engineers felt it was time to be on the same playing field as its exotic priced rivals.
And after just a few laps around the track at Nevada’s Spring Mountain Motor Resort, it became evident the Corvette’s entire dynamic has changed. The car’s center of gravity now sits right at your hip, so you can feel the car pivot more responsively.
And where before, you were constantly on high alert for oversteer, now the tendency is more of an understeer situation. Placing the weight of the engine further back in the chassis...thus shifting the weight bias 40/60 front to rear…before adding a driver...does wonders for planting the back tires into the pavement for added grip.
Steering is sharp, brakes are great, and it dances from apex to apex; it’s easily the most fun, dynamic Stingray yet.
But, despite the drastic change in architecture, it retains a strong family resemblance to the C7 Corvette.
The face has a very familiar shape, with the headlights mounted on top of the fenders as before. There’s much less hood up front of course, and more of a canopy look to the steeply raked glass.
At the rear, you’ll find the customary high-mounted tail lights, but there is way more angles and openings than before; and the paired-up exhaust tips are now pushed out to the corners.
Standard wheels are 19s in front; 20s in the back with 305-section tires.
The interior vibe is not all foreign either, but the look and feel of things has improved greatly. The biggest departure is a new slender rising console that separates driver and passenger and houses a long row of ancillary controls.
There are a pair of screens for delivering information, both pointed at the driver. A 12-inch configurable gauge panel and a smaller 8-inchscreen for infotainment.
The new steering wheel has a squarish shape not loved by everyone; and it can feel awkward when shuffling through turns. If you’re strictly the 10-and-2 type though, you’ll love it.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 15-City, 27-Highway, and 19-Combined.
For a worse than average Energy Impact Score of 17.3-barrels annual oil consumption, with CO2 emissions of 7.7-tons.
Chances are, few Corvettes will transact for its base price of just $59,995, but you could; and it’s truly an engineering triumph for GM to make this much car available at that price.
So yes, the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is the best base Corvette ever. But, we expected that. It’s also a launchpad that will rocket the Corvette into a whole new galaxy of American sports car performance. So, strap in, hang on, and enjoy the ride!
Engine: 6.2 liter V8
Torque: 470 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 2.9 seconds
EPA: 15 mpg city / 27 mpg highway