A New Era for the 'Vette - The C8 Corvette Stingray
Words: Scott Blackburn
Last week, Chevrolet announced the release of the much-anticipated C8 Corvette Stingray, replacing its C7 predecessor. This new model caused such a fuss amongst Corvette anoraks simply because of its engine placement. The new 'Vette will be mid-engined, for the first time in the badge's history.
Rumours of mid-engined Corvettes have been floating around every new release for some five decades. Announced at a press event in Southern California, the C8 finally gratifies the rumours. The model revealed to the press and now the world is the base model C8.
This base model however is no weedy token gesture, when equipped with the Z51 performance package, this base is more powerful and quicker off the mark than the top-of-the-line C7 ZR1 model from the previous generation. Packing 495 hp from its 6.2 L V8 and an unconfirmed 0-60 time of under 3 seconds.
This makes the C8 the most powerful 'Vette ever, and the base model the most powerful 'Vette base model ever. In fact, the acceleration time pushes it into Bugatti Veyron territory. This acceleration comes at a cost for purists though, as it is only made possible through the rejection of the manual gearbox, which is no longer available on the new Corvette.
For those panicking though, there is something which Chevy have included which may sooth your manual itch somewhat. If the driver simultaneously flicks both gear-shift paddles behind the wheel, the clutches are disengaged, allowing you to rev the V8 monster in neutral, for no other reason than to just make noise.
Another major innovation to accompany the move to the mid-engined layout, is the shift away from leaf springs at the rear. While this is nothing new to the rest of the world, the American pure-bred 'Vette has been a little stuck in the past. The horse-carriage style springs have been replaced by modern coil-overs and optional Magnetic Ride Control 4.0, GM's own adjustable suspension system.
This not only brings the C8 into the 21st century, but also enhances the idea that the Corvette was always about more than straight lines. In addition to new suspension, the C8 has also had its driveline lowered, in turn lowering the centre of gravity and further increasing the handling potential.
The aforementioned Z51 performance package available on the base model provides a list of enhancements, including: performance suspension, bigger brake discs, a shorter axle ratio, a performance exhaust, and enhanced engine and brake cooling.
For those on this side of the Atlantic already getting a little hot under the collar, the C8 will be the first ever Corvette to be made available in right-hand drive. Specific pricing hasn't yet been revealed, but the C8 will go into full production later this year at its traditional home, Bowling Green Assembly.