Since bursting onto the scene at the 1953 GM Motorama, the Chevrolet Corvette has been the definitive American sports car, carving out its own mythology in the process. Despite this, the Detroit auto giant decided to look to Europe for inspiration when developing the eighth iteration of its most famous nameplate. The current version of the iconic sports car doesn’t just have a bold new design; it’s also the first to feature a mid-engine layout. The radical move made waves when it was announced back in the summer of 2019, exciting much of the vehicle’s diehard fanbase, while horrifying more than a handful of purists at the same time.
Four years later it looks as if Chevy’s bet has paid off. The C8 Corvette—both the standard Stingray and high-performance Z06—has proven to be a huge success with the automotive press and the buying public. And now, after a few years of production issues caused by everything from strikes to the coronavirus pandemic to supply chain issues, the car has become easier to buy, too. In fact, last year Chevy sold 34,510 examples of the model, nearly a 4.5 percent increase over 2021. Here’s everything you need to know about the coveted sports car as it enters its fifth model year.
Engine, Specs and Performance: How Much Horsepower Does the C8 Corvette Have?
There’s only one place to start when discussing the C8 Corvette: the engine. After 67 years of commitment to a front-engine configuration, Chevy decided to kick off the new decade by repositioning the car’s 6.2-liter LT2 V-8 behind the driver.
The Stingray’s mill isn’t all that different from the LT1 found under the hood of the C7, but it is more powerful, bringing a solid 490 hp of grunt and 465 ft lbs of torque (compared to 455 hp and 460 ft lbs of torque last generation). The new powertrain enables the car to shoot from zero to 60 mph in less than three seconds. The C8 can also complete the quarter-mile in just over 11 seconds and reach a top speed of 184 mph. And if that’s not enough for you, the Z51 performance package, which includes a dual-mode performance exhaust, boosts the horsepower and torque figures to 495 hp and 470 ft lbs, respectively, giving all other performance numbers a lift as well. One thing to note: There is only one transmission option, a Tremec 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, something that has caused consternation among the faithful.
To help manage all that power, the C8 Corvette has a Driver Mode Selector that allows you to pick from six driving modes, including Tour, Sport, Track, Weather, MyMode and Z Mode (the latter two of which are customizable). It’s also equipped with a four-wheel anti-lock brake system, with disc brakes and four-piston calipers on each wheel. The Z51 package includes an electronic limited-slip differential, new final drive ratio, improved cooling system for the brakes, an enhanced suspension and a performance exhaust.
The C8 Exterior: A Bold Departure
Like any other vehicle, the Corvette’s design and general shape have evolved dramatically since its introduction in 1953. But from generation to generation, no design overhaul has been as jarring as the C8’s. Since the C5 debuted in the mid-’90s, it’s been easy to see the last generation in the current design. That stopped with the C8.
Chevy used the change in layout as a chance to alter the ‘Vette’s profile, discarding some of its trademark features. Gone are the long, signature nose and slightly squared-off back. The front still comes to a peak, but the rest of the lines and angles are much more aggressive than ever before, and the cockpit has been moved forward. That shift rids the car of the slinky elegance that’s been a part of its shape since the ’60s but gives its a new boldness. This is a vehicle designed for speed, and it looks like it. The new design, which is available as coupé or convertible, also gives the American vehicle a decidedly more European flavor.
Interior, Infotainment and Cargo
It’s not just the exterior that’s received a major makeover. Open up the C8 Corvette’s doors and you’ll find a cabin that actually looks like the cockpit of a futuristic fighter jet. Sit down in the low-slung driver seat and you’re met with a squared-off steering wheel, which includes two large paddle shifters. Behind that is a 12-inch digital instrument cluster, which includes a new tachometer, to help keep track of your ‘Vette and its performance as you drive.
Embedded into the center console is an 8-inch infotainment screen that’s angled toward the driver. It’s equipped with Chevy’s Infotainment 3 Plus system, which features Bluetooth connectivity, a 4G mobile hotspot and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The C8 Corvette’s interior is also equipped with a high-performance, 14-speaker Bose audio system that is sure to be music to any audiophile’s ears.
You’ll also have three different styles of bucket seats to choose from, as well as a variety of color and material options, including Napa leather and suede microfiber. And for those worried about cargo space, the C8 and all its variants offer a front compartment and rear trunk that still has room for two sets of golf clubs.
The Corvette Z06 Offers Even More Power
The C8’s nearly 500 horses will be more than enough for most drivers, but Corvette enthusiasts are a different breed. And for those who look at the Stingray’s specs and don’t see enough oomph, there’s the Z06.
The 2023 model year saw the launch of the C8’s first high-performance variant. Sitting in the engine bay is the brand-new LT6, a naturally aspirated 5.5-liter DOHC V-8 with a flat-plane crank that helps produce a thunderous crackle. The sonorous mill is similar to the one found in the C8.R race car, and is mated to an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that sends power to the rear axle. It spits out a hair-raising 670 horses and 460 ft lbs of twist and redlines at 8,600 rpm. That’s 180 more horses than the Stingray and only slightly less torque, and thanks to the added power drivers will be able to rocket from zero to 60 mph in 2.6 seconds and hit a top speed of 195 mph. Chevy has also announced plans to release a track-only version, called the Z06 GT3, next year, too.
A new powerplant isn’t the only feature that sets the Z06 apart from the standard eighth-gen ‘Vette. The car is also 3.6 inches wider and features a much more intense aero package. Modifications include a new front fascia with a larger splitter and a small fixed rear wing. There’s also the track-focused Z07 performance package that adds carbon-fiber upgrades, such as a larger front splitter, dive planes, underbody strakes and a more prominent, racing-style rear wing.
All of that may be why the first Z06 sold for $3.6 million at auction in January 2022. Proceeds from the sale went to charity, but that was still more than 30 times the car’s base price. Interest in the variant also forced Chevy to issue a warning to dealers that they could face punishment for charging exorbitant markups for the coveted model (though that didn’t help much).
Like anyone else with even a passing interest in high-performance vehicles, we were excited to get behind the wheel of the C8. But our 2020 test drive through Nevada made one thing abundantly clear: the car was definitely a step in the right direction, but there was still work to be done. From our “First Drive” review:
“The new ‘Vette is a remarkable achievement for something starting under $60,000, but it’ll be a while before the C8 matures into the outstanding machine I’m confident it can be. Maybe that machine is the forthcoming Stingray convertible. Maybe it’s an eventual higher-powered Corvette variant. Either way, I feel the magic looming.”
Fast forward three years to the Z06, though, and it was clear that significant progress had been made. Robb Report‘s reviewer, writer Michael Van Runkle, felt it was “essentially impossible” to find a comparable speed machine at the same price point, writing that, “America’s supercar may be trying to punch above its weight, but it’s still quite the contender.”
What’s New for 2024: The E-Ray Hybrid
We’re still waiting to find out if any design or mechanical fixes will be introduced during the C8’s fifth production year, but 2024 will see the launch of something big—the first electrified Corvette. That’s right, the long-rumored E-Ray is finally here. And it sounds even better than we could have hoped.
Like every Corvette since 1956, the brand-new variant features a V-8, specifically the same LT2 found in the Stingray. But now the car’s trademark small block is joined by a front-mounted electric motor connected to a 1.9-kWh battery pack. The new hardware adds 160 hp and 125 ft lbs of torque, pushing total output to an impressive 655 horses sad 595 ft lbs of twist. The extra motor doesn’t just add grunt, though; it also adds all-wheel drive to the vehicle. The powerful E-Ray’s intelligent eAWD system reads the road and makes adjustments based on traction and driving conditions, too, promising a grand tourer that can be enjoyed year-round.
Most of the E-Ray’s innovations are limited to what you can’t see. In fact, the car looks almost identical to the wide-body Z06. You will have 14 exterior colors to choose from, though, including the brand-new Riptide Blue, Seawolf Gray and Cacti, as well as an optional, model-specific Electric Blue stripe package. The interior features a unique Artemis Dipped color scheme and a tweaked infotainment system you can use to monitor the hybrid-assisted powertrain in real time and trigger its all-electric (and relatively silent) Stealth mode.
We’re still waiting on a firm release date, but Chevy says the E-Ray will go into production and launch later this year. Whenever it does, expect the vehicle to be just as hard to get ahold of as every other C8 has been upon release.
An All-Electric Corvette Is on the Way, Too
Yes, a fully electric Corvette is coming. General Motors President Mark Reuss confirmed as much last spring, but we still have no idea when it will arrive. The E-Ray took years to develop, and we wouldn’t be surprised if a zero-emission ‘Vette takes even longer considering all the work a completely new and fundamentally different powertrain would require. Who knows, maybe it will be one of the models Chevy uses to launch its rumored Corvette sub-brand later this decade? The only thing that’s certain is that a battery-powered Corvette is officially in the works.
Fuel Economy and MPG
As one of US’s defining performance vehicle’s, the Corvette has never been known for its fuel economy. The C8 Corvette is less of a gas guzzler than some its predecessors, but it still offers better performance on the road than at the pump. The 2023 Stingray, the most recent on record as of press time, has a fuel economy rating of 16 miles per gallon (mpg) for city driving, 24 mpg on the highway and a combined rating of 19 mph, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. That means you can drive the car an average of 352 miles on a full tank. The Z06, meanwhile, has a city rating of 12 mpg, a highway rating of 21 mpg and a combined rating of 15 mpg, the agency found. That means you’ll get an average of 278 miles per tank. The EPA puts the average cost of keeping the sports car’s tank filled at between $2,700 and $4,200 per year. Because of this, C8 owners can expect to spend between $4,250 and $11,750 more on fuel over a five-year span than other vehicle owners.
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Like all Chevrolet models, the C8 Corvette comes with a healthy warranty. The bumper-to-bumper limited warranty covers the entire vehicle for repairs, including parts and labor, for three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. Meanwhile, the powertrain warranty runs for five years or 60,000 miles, though other durations are available. Your first maintenance visit is also covered by Chevrolet, as well as the cost of any recall-related work.
Pricing: How Much Does a C8 Corvette Cost?
When the mid-engine C8 Corvette was first announced, Chevy promised it would start at less than $60,000. As far-fetched as that sounded at the time, the automaker managed to deliver on that promise. Four model years later, the ‘Vette’s starting price has climbed to $64,500. Meanwhile, the high-performance Z06 starts at $105,300, while the base price of the E-Ray will be $104,295 at launch. Of course, with a near-endless list of options and trim levels—not to mention dealer markups—the C8’s price can quickly climb skywards. Still, when you consider the kind of vehicles it’s up against, even the most expensive build is basically a bargain.
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