C8 Corvette: Mid-Engined Masterpiece Or Misfire?

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Is the new Corvette C8 a mid-engined masterpiece, or was the stretch to make it a supercar a massive misfire? 

After putting the Chevrolet Corvette C8 on over 30 racetracks around the U.S. in the last year, we can definitively say that Chevy have put together a masterpiece….kind of. 

The Corvette C8 Hype

There’s a reason the Corvette was the most-hyped car of 2019 and most divisive of 2020 - managing to grab headlines even in the midst of a global pandemic.  The C8 is a vehicle that requires some unpacking, peeling back layers to fully comprehend what this car is and where it fits into car culture.

C8 Corvette Performance Statistics

At face value, the C8 stuns with its performance stats. The C8 Corvette was released in 2020, 6 years after the previous generation, the C7 was released. The LS (and eventually supercharged) equipped C7 continues to be a much-loved car by enthusiasts with the performance of later editions offering an immersive track experience. So then, the C8 had a lot to live up to performance-wise. 

  • Engine: 6.2 Liter V8
  • Top Speed: 194 mph
  • Horsepower: 495 hp
  • Torque: 465 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: 2.9 sec
  • Weight: 3,637 lbs
  • MSRP: $75,000
  • Vehicle Layout: Mid-engine, rear-wheel drive
  • Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch automatic with paddle shift

Is The C8 Corvette Fast

Data doesn’t lie. Is the C8 Corvette fast? Yes, absolutely, 0-60 in 2.9 seconds is incredible. However, data often doesn’t tell the entire story. The C8 feels fast around the racetrack with the unbelievable dual clutch transmission gleaning every millisecond out of shifts to minimize disturbance. It’s incredibly effective. Meanwhile, despite being heftier than its predecessor, the mid-engine layout plays its part in keeping the car balanced and poised through corners, under hard braking, and in full attacking acceleration. Xtreme Xperience instructor and professional driver, John Raymond, points out, “he mid engine layout provides optimal balence and distribution in weight compared to the traditional front engine style.”

A Mid-Engined Corvette

Corvette Test Drive

If you are reading this article, you likely already know that the mention of the mid-engine switch is enough to set off a firestorm of disagreement. We won’t go deep into that discussion other than to say, the choice needed to both benefit performance and allow the Corvette to still feel like a Corvette. What does that mean? It means that despite punching above its weight in terms of performance, the Corvette still can feel like a $60,000 cruiser. It’s not a hard car to drive, with easy being a word that many of Xtreme Xperience’s professional instructors were using over the last year. It goes where you want it to without fuss and will let you drive with confidence even while pushing it hard. 

Driving Feel Of The C8

The flipside of this coin? For many, easy isn’t what they want. They want Chevrolet’s first mid-engined Corvette to be a lot more, well, like a supercar. The drama, the fear, the ruthlessness. The C8 Corvette is a mid-engined masterpiece to be sure, but it doesn’t plug into enough emotion in ways they would have hoped. The writer of this article drove the C8 Corvette and GT500 on the same day on the same track to capture some of the photos in this article, beginning with time in the driver’s seat of the GT500. After wrangling that behemoth, the C8 felt like walking a well-trained dog. 

Chevrolet’s Corvette

This though is partially what Chevrolet hoped to accomplish. Car & Driver, among others, points out that Chevrolet was well aware of their core audience of buyers during development. Undoubtedly, some C8s, like ours, will end up on racetracks. Many will stay in heated garages for six months of the year until making their way out for semi-spirited driving on dry weekends or short jaunts to work on well-kept streets. What this says then, is that the C8 manages to be a bit of the best of both worlds. Perfectly calm and yet superior in many ways on the track to its predecessors. 

The Future of The C8

This brings up a point that all agree on after one year of having the Corvette C8 in our supercar fleet. Future C8 models will be excellent. To this John Raymond said, “This was a step closer in the direction of “super car territory” and we cannot wait for the next hot version of the car to come out.” Chevrolet took the C7 Corvette to incredible heights with the Z06 and the C8 will be no different. A camouflaged C8 was spied testing on public roads, with the amatur videographer cheekily asking, “That's not the Z06, is it?” to an unamused driver. And of course, as it is 2021, a Corvette E-Ray is also being developed with some rumors claiming a 1000-horsepower hybrid Corvette.

The C8 Corvette Is An Incredible Value

What cannot be missed is that the C8 Corvette is an incredible value. Chevrolet made a car that gets tantalizingly close to supercar territory for well under $100,000. There is no denying that it is a game-changing car. Even if it doesn’t offer some of the pizzaz of a Lamborghini Huracan, driving it flat out on a racetrack will leave you shaking with excitement. You would be forgiven for forgetting you are in a $60,000 car from one of the American Big Three. 

Summary

For those looking for a car that will put down some stunning lap times for the price while also offering itself as the perfect Sunday cruise machine, the C8 is ideal. Corvette has nailed it. For those looking for a supercar killer, the C8 gets pretty close. Not many cars hit 60 miles per hour in 2.9 seconds, and fewer still will do it for under $100,000. The eighth generation Corvette is a game changer and we cannot to see what comes next.