Driving the 2020 Corvette Stingray

Road and track impressions of the all-new midengine Corvette from a veteran engineer and magazine tester.

While the C8’s steering response and effort are superb, further calibration is still needed to improve steering feedback. (Chevrolet)

Grasping the true beauty of Chevy’s new 2020 Corvette supercar demands a deep dig. You must venture beyond the exciting-to-a-fault exterior skin and the lavish stitched-leather, buffed-metal, and carbon-fiber-embellished interior. You have to look past the revolutionary powertrain and chassis engineering. Nor will you discover the 2020 Corvette’s place in the cosmos by summing up its performance stats.

The author gets familiar with the C8’s cockpit displays during the 2020 Stingray media launch in Nevada. (Alex Fuller/GM)

In fact, beyond the major improvement in acceleration from rest (0-60 mph [97 km/h] easily cracking the 3-sec. barrier), several indices—curb weight, Cg height, polar moment of inertia, drag coefficient and frontal area—have moved in the wrong direction. In the end, driving this car is the only means of gauging the leap the Corvette engineers have achieved with their rejuvenation of “America’s sports car.”

The first surprise is a quiet, pleasant ride over less-than-perfect pavement. A cabin unencumbered by noise and turbulence even with the roof panel stowed. Steering that locks onto straight paths and sweeping bends with fierce determination. The balance and predictability at the limit of cornering adhesion is rewarding to drivers ranging from rank amateurs to veteran track stars. Gathering up a slide is a cinch. The brake pedal is equally reassuring with its immediate response, linear force-versus-deceleration calibration and ample stopping-power reserves.

The broad and tall “bundleboard” center console between the driver and passenger seats can give some a claustrophobic impression. (GM)
Some believe the “beauty cover” for the 495-hp 6.2-L OHV V8 could be a little more beautiful. (GM)

There are two design highlights worth noting. The first is the square-corner steering wheel that shouts “why didn’t I think of that?” It’s both instantly engaging and highly functional by providing an unrestricted view of the comprehensive electronic instrument cluster. The second advance is dispatching the clutch pedal to the retirement home. There’s no denying that two clutches are better than one in this instance. The paddle-shifted 8-speed automatic provides a wealth of functions no “stick” can match: quicker shifting, seamless operation and the ideal gear for every situation.

Of course, hardcore traditionalists will miss their pedal and shifter pets, but I predict that even they will come to enjoy the Corvette’s new dual-clutch automatic.

There are a few venial sins to mention. The weird engine cover does not flatter the exceptional engineering residing below. The bundling board that splits the cockpit into two zones can make the cabin feel claustrophobic. Rear-three-quarter visibility is poor and not fully resolved by the wide-angle view of the optional camera-image rearview mirror.

Also, there is one driving attribute that those Porsche owners who make the leap to the new Corvette will pine for: steering feedback. While C8’s steering response and effort are both superb, there’s little evidence at the steering-wheel rim of that’s going on at the tire-to-road interface. Once the final software calibrations are in place and Bowling Green is cranking out perfect Corvettes, we’d love to see the engineering team focus on improving this important detail.