Chevrolet has confirmed European specification details for its new C8 Corvette Stingray, which will be the first Corvette in the model’s 67-year history to officially be sold in right-hand-drive form.
Arriving in European dealerships in the second half of 2021, the C8 will be available in both coupé and convertible guises, from £81,700 and £87,110 respectively. All models sold here will be specified with the Z51 performance package and highly specified 2LT trim as standard.
That means all European cars will gain a number of hardware upgrades over the base-spec US car, including manually adjustable suspension, larger brake discs, an electronic limited-slip differential, a shorter axle ratio, a performance exhaust system, Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres and an aerodynamically enhancing bodykit.
Additional standard equipment fitted includes a head-up display, data recorder, sat-nav, 14-speaker Bose sound system, rear camera ‘mirror’ and heated, ventilated seats.
The first Corvettes to arrive will be limited-run Launch Edition cars, which will pack a magnetic ride control system and bespoke design details that set them apart from the standard models.
The new C8 features a mid-engine layout – the first time for a Corvette – in a bid to take on European rivals such as Porsche and Ferrari.
Since the original version of the two-seater was launched in 1953, Corvettes have featured a front-engined, rear-drive layout – but the 495bhp 6.2-litre V8 in the new C8 machine is mounted behind the driver for the first time.
Mark Reuss, president of Chevrolet parent firm General Motors, said at last year’s launch: “The traditional front-engined vehicle reached its limits of performance, necessitating the new layout.” He added: “In terms of comfort and fun, it still looks and feels like a Corvette, but drives better than any vehicle in Corvette history.”
The entry-level version of the new machine is dubbed Stingray, reviving a badge first used in 1963, and is able to cover 0-60mph in under three seconds, making it the fastest base-level Corvette yet. More powerful variants are due to follow.
Switching to a mid-engine layout has increased the length of the new model by 137mm to 4630mm, with the wheelbase stretched to 2723mm. It is 1933mm wide, 56mm wider than the previous C7 model, although at 1234mm it is marginally lower. The new Corvette weighs 1527kg, 166kg more than previously.
While retaining some familiar design cues, the new Corvette has a more ‘global’ look due to the new layout, with echoes of recent two-seat McLaren and Ferrari machines. Chevrolet claims a more ‘driver-centric’ interior design, with the shorter bonnet bringing increased visibility.
When it was introduced in 1953, the original Corvette was a striking alternative to the hefty behemoths that dominated American roads, with its lightweight glassfibre body and two-seat cabin. Zora Arkus-Duntov, considered the ‘father’ of the Corvette, had long pushed for a mid-engine layout, but while several prototypes were built, this is the first production version to make the switch.
To underscore the switch, the C8 Corvette features a glass cover to highlight its engine, which produces 40bhp more than in the previous model. It also develops 470lb ft of torque, 10lb ft more than previously.
It will also be the first Corvette since the sports car’s early years to forego a manual gearbox in favour of an all-new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifters. It includes a new feature called double-paddle de-clutch, which allows the driver to decouple the clutch for greater manual control.
The gearshifter is electronically linked to the transmission, freeing up space, and an array of key controls are lined up, Porsche-style, along the edge of the centre console. A new customisable display is visible through the squared-off steering wheel, while the infotainment screen is now angled towards the driver.
As with the C7, the new C8 Stingray features Magnetic Ride Control, which uses a special, magnetically sensitive fluid that allows the suspension dampers to be quickly adjusted. A performance traction management system is also available, with an electronic limited-slip differential standard on the entry-level car.
A front splitter and open two-piece rear spoiler work together to generate as much as 181kg of downforce under aggressive cornering.
Buyers have the option of all-season Michelin Pilot Sport ALS tyres – which, Chevrolet claims, can manage nearly 1g cornering – or the Z51 package’s Michelin Pilot Sport 4S. Front tyres are 245/35 ZR19s, with 305/30 ZR20s at the rear.
Like all recent generations of the Corvette, the C8 is being assembled in Bowling Green, Kentucky, but Chevrolet is seeking to enhance the model’s presence around the world, much as rival Ford has done with the latest-generation Mustang.
Upgraded versions are likely to retain familiar designations such as Z06 and ZR1 and will be following over the next few years, with rumors suggesting the C8 could eventually nudge towards 1000bhp.
Writer: Paul A. Eisenstein
Published: 3 June 2020
Source: Auto Car
Photo Credit: Auto Car