The 2022 Chevrolet Corvette C8 is easily one of the most-anticipated sports cars of the last few years.
This is true both in its home territory in the United States as well as power-hungry markets like Australia, where the eighth-generation Chevrolet Corvette was always going to be controversial.
Why? Because of the location of its engine. Dubbed C8 by legions of Vette enthusiasts, the all-new mid-engine Corvette is the result of nearly 70 years of evolution with the first C1 rolling off the assembly line back in 1953.
As a student/athlete in the United States in the 80s, with a passion for US muscle cars (including the Corvette), I was lucky enough to get some wheel time in a C2 convertible, C3, C4 and more recently in LA, a C7 convertible.
Years later I scored a hot lap in the mega-powered C7 ZR1 rocket ship at Lakeside Raceway in Queensland. This only fuelled my ambitions to own one. I also had respect for what General Motors had achieved with that car, given the inherent limitations of the vehicle’s architecture.
Sadly, the ownership thing didn’t happen. However, I’ve made it known to General Motors Specialty Vehicles (GMSV) that I’m all-in for the 2023 Chevrolet Corvette C8 Z06 – provided I haven’t left my run too late.
For more than six decades the Chevrolet stuck to its guns with its successful formula: two-seat, lightweight, front-engine, V8-powered sports car (not counting the handful of straight-six C1 models that didn’t sell all that well). Other Corvette trademarks include an extra-long bonnet and the choice of manual, automatic, coupe or convertible.
Moreover, the Vette also guaranteed extraordinary bang for buck against its stratospherically more expensive European rivals from the likes of Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati.
For the C8 though, that tried-and-true formula that had proven so successful for so long was deemed to be no longer the winning way. Rival sports cars from Europe were now exclusively mid-engine, while the iconic Porsche 911 has continued with its rear-mounted flat-six setup.
Heralding an entirely new chapter for the iconic American sports car, the eighth-generation Corvette ditched its front-engine architecture for the more exotic mid-engine layout.
It also dropped the manual transmission option for transmission for a quick-shifting eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox with paddle shifters. At least you can still get a coupe or convertible. More importantly for Australia, the car is available in factory right-hand drive for the first time in 70 years.
The purists likely won’t recognise the new the Vette with its decidedly cab-forward cockpit and mid-engine Euro design. In fact, sitting at my local on Sydney’s Northern Beaches I overheard several groups of coffee drinkers proclaim “it must be the new Ferrari”.
That’s the kind of mistake General Motors might not mind at all, given Ferrari has always been the benchmark for Corvette, at least in terms of handling and outright performance on and off the track.
GM fully admits it had pretty much exhausted the power outputs and dynamic evolution of the front-engine layout, and going for a mid-engine setup was the only real way forward if they wanted to compete with European makes.
The C7 Corvette was a huge step-up from its predecessor in every respect. Particularly the interior – which had always been rated as cheap and cheerful compared with its leather-wrapped rivals from Europe. Overall, however, the C7 was only evolutionary.
Everything about the C8 Corvette is revolutionary – except for the engine. The LT2 6.2-litre naturally-aspirated V8 is in its fifth-generation form but with better performance than earlier iterations. It’s more compact and more powerful than ever, thanks mostly to better breathing and cooling.
Like the new mid-engine cab-forward design, the interior is just as revolutionary with one of the most driver-focused cockpits in the business. There’s lashings of the softest leather, carbon-fibre accents, real metal trims and cutting-edge technology. It all adds up to a decidedly upmarket look and feel to the cabin.
Crucially, the C8 continues the value proposition that’s always been hallmark of the nameplate, with prices kicking off from under $150,000 before on-roads for the base model.
It’s even more palatable when you consider Aussie-delivered Corvettes come standard with the Z51 Performance Pack – which brings a dual-mode exhaust, Magnetic Ride Control adaptive suspension, bigger Brembo brakes, an electronic limited-slip differential, front splitter, rear spoiler and a heavy-duty cooling system.
Along with the Performance Pack, all models also get a multi-faceted head-up display and a 14-speaker Bose sound system.
And, let’s not forget this is just the baseline Chevy Corvette. The hardcore Z06 is about to drop in the US, armed with a 5.5-litre naturally-aspirated double overhead cam flat-plane crank V8 making 493kW of power – the most of any production-series V8 engine in history.
The first factory right-hand-drive Chevrolet Corvette Stingray starts at $144,900 before on-road costs for the base 2LT Coupe.
For those who want the 2LT Stingray Convertible, prepare to pay a $15,000 premium for the privilege, which bumps the price to $159,900. You get a power-retractable hardtop that can open in 16 seconds at speeds up to 48km/h.
Step up to the better-equipped 3LT Stingray Coupe and the price jumps to $160,500 or $175,500 for the Convertible version. The flagship Carbon Edition Coupe is yours from $189,990 plus on roads.
This is not bad for a mid-engined supercar loaded to the hilt and with performance claims to match the Ferrari 296 GTB ($568,400), Lamborghini Huracan Evo RWD ($384,187) and McLaren Artura ($449,500).
- Front lift suspension system (one-touch button)
- Keyless entry and start
- Heated and power folding mirrors
- Soft-close engine hatch cover
- Engine appearance package
- 19-inch front and 20-inch rear five-spoke open wheels in bright silver
- Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres (as part of the Z51 Performance Package)
- GT2 bucket seats in Nappa leather with perforated inserts
- Eight-way powered seats with memory
- incl. powered bolsters and lumbar adjustment
- Heated and ventilated seats
- Suede microfibre-wrapped A-pillars, headliner and rear seat covering
- Leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel with power adjust
- Leather-wrapped instrument panel
- Leather door panels
- Luggage nets front & rear
- 12-inch configurable driver’s instrument cluster
- 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen
- Satellite Navigation
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (wireless)
- Head-up display
- Performance data recorder
- Wireless phone charging
- Bose 14-speaker sound system
- Dual-zone climate control
Our 3LT tester also came with the following options:
- Transparent removable roof (instead of standard body-colour unit)
- Chrome badging
- Red seat belts (there’s also Black, Orange, Blue, Yellow)
- Bright Red brake calipers
- Engine appearance package
- Competition Sport seats
Available colours for the Chevrolet Corvette C8 include:
- Arctic White
- Ceramic Matrix Grey Metallic
- Silver Flare Metallic
- Hypersonic Grey (as tested)
- Caffeine Metallic
- Accelerate Yellow Metallic
- Torch Red
- Red Mist Metallic Tincoat
- Amplify Orange Tincoat
- Rapid Blue
- Elkhart Lake Blue Metallic
The Chevrolet Corvette has not been crash tested in the United States or in Australia, so there’s no ANCAP safety rating.
However, it does come with four airbags (dual front airbags and side impact airbags), a reversing camera in displayed in the rear-view mirror, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and park assist.
The Corvette also comes with a Weather drive mode for wet or slippery conditions.
However, it lacks most of the driver-assist systems you tend to find in the majority of new cars these days, such as AEB (Autonomous Emergency Braking), adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist aren’t available.
As mentioned earlier, the C7 ‘Vette offered a significant upgrade on previous models that were universally slammed for using cheap plastics and trim bits. The C8 really does present a vastly superior cabin, complete with high-end materials and innovative design – it’s comparable to any of its key rivals.
There are plenty of highlights, like the oddly-shaped racing-style steering wheel, ours covered in Alcantara with contrast stitching that feels surprisingly good in the hands.
The entire cabin is also wrapped in super-soft Nappa leather, though the bright-red/Grey combo is a bit too dramatic for our tastes. A natural leather tone seems more in touch with the quality metal accents and the optional Competition Sport seats in our tester.
Oh yes, those seats are something to celebrate. They’re no less comfortable than the standard GT2 seats but the bolsters are more serious all-round – the only compromise is they require a tad more dexterity from the driver when climbing out, but they are a must-have in my view if you intend to exploit the ‘Vette’s dynamic attributes.
Everything is angled towards the driver in what is the most driver-centric design we’ve ever seen on a series production road car. Initially it might appear claustrophobic, but once seated it feels ergonomically perfect.
Perhaps the most interesting feature is the buttress that sits to the left of the driver. It houses a spectacular bridge of buttons that operate the climate control, as well as seat heating/cooling for both driver and front passenger.
It’s a lot of buttons, but you get to know them within minutes and they’re in easy reach and surprisingly convenient.
I like how the push-pull toggle gear selector and drive mode dial are neatly housed in polished metal inlays, the latter hidden under a leather-wrapped hand rest.
Drive and reverse are toggles which remind me of the Lamborghini Urus, though a bit more subtle.
Both the driver’s digital display and infotainment screen offer crystal clear graphics and colour with fast response to the touch. Same goes for the wireless Apple CarPlay – it’s robust with no dropouts and dead easy to pair.
The ‘Vette packs a lot of information into the driver’s display, which is effectively three screens in the one housing but each is clearly delineated with the central screen showing a large tachometer that’s fully configurable.
Additionally, the standard head-up display shows three different views correlating with the various drive modes: Tour, Sport and Track. The latter includes shift lights, best lap time and current lap time with gain/loss indicator.
There’s plenty of cabin storage too. There are twin cupholders, a shallow centre console bin (but still useful for phones, keys and sunnies) with two USB-A & USB-C ports, as well as a vertical phone pocket between the two seats – which also doubles as the wireless phone charger.
Like some mid-engined sports cars the Corvette gets a reasonably-sized frunk that can swallow a decent-size soft bag or the weekly grocery shop.
There’s a boot as well behind the engine compartment, and its good for up to two sets of golf clubs, claim General Motors, or you can store the removable roof top on its own using special docking points. All up there’s a useful 356.8 litres available.
Power comes from a naturally-aspirated 2LT 6.2-litre V8 engine (fifth-generation small-block), sitting directly behind the cabin making 369kW of power and 637Nm of torque. It’s the most power ever for a base Chevy Corvette and largely attributed to more efficient breathing.
Drive is sent to the rear wheels exclusively through a new Tremec TR-9080 eight-speed dual-clutch transmission developed from the ground up by GM and Tremec. It’s designed to handle up to 800Nm of torque – think Corvette C8 Z06 with its 5.5-litre flat-plane crank and high 8600rpm rev limit.
The engine was designed to use dry-sump lubrication to ensure it could be mounted as low as possible in the mid-engine chassis for a reduced centre of gravity. Three scavenging pumps capture the circulating oil that ensures pressurised spraying of the oil to all parts of the engine in high-g situations on track.
There’s a standard glass viewing panel over the engine on the coupe so you can see it in all its glory. It’s especially tasty with the standard appearance package on the 3LT trim cars, which add carbon-fibre bits on top of the bracing on each side.
GM claims the C8 Corvette in base 2LT spec can scoot from standstill to 100km/h in 2.9 seconds and achieve a top speed of 296km/h.
Official US Government fuel consumption figures put the C8 Corvette at 12.38L/100km on the combined cycle using Premium fuel (95 RON and above). However, our best result during the four-day test period was 8.1L/100km over 130km of mostly highway driving.
Switching to mostly urban driving and fuel consumption rose to 15.1L/100km, which also included a few stints of more enthusiastic wheel time. So all-in-all, quite pleasing figures for a mid-engine supercar.
I’d heard mixed reviews about the new C8 ‘Vette, even while hanging with friends and colleagues in the US recently. Nothing really negative but nothing really outstanding either – just a good car was the general consensus.
Moreover, I’d just come back from Spain after a cracking drive in the new Ferrari 296 GTB – a car I immediately rated as one of the best ever despite boasting a V6 hybrid powertrain for the first time. It was a masterclass in mid-engine design and performance.
So the benchmark had been effectively reset by the Ferrari, which by default provided a very good starting point for comparing with my first drive in the all-new mid-engine Corvette.
It’s not a work of art like the Ferrari. That was my most immediate thought as I saw it in the metal for the first time. Interesting, functional and somewhat exotic given the mid-engine chassis but somehow clearly made in the USA. No bad thing.
And for 160 grand – the supercar bargain of the decade, right?
The Competition Sport seats are set mighty low into the car so the easiest way in is to just let gravity take over and fall into them. Unlike some racing-style shell-based seats, those in the Corvette are fully power adjustable including the bolsters.
It takes a few minutes to get orientated in what is such a vastly different cockpit from the C7. For example the start/stop button is virtually hidden behind the steering wheel on right-hand drive versions.
Then you work out how to pull the toggle to engage Drive, followed by the rotary drive-mode dial which I’ve left in the least aggressive Touring setting as we kick things off.
Looking at the rear window that doubles as part of the engine-lid cover, you’d wonder how anyone would have any rear vision at all. There’s just enough though, and partnered with the wing mirrors and various cameras I really didn’t give it another thought.
Fire it up and there’s a proper GT3 racer-style crack that comes from those electronically-tuneable quad-exhaust outlets so close to the engine. But here’s the thing, apart from the initial start-up bark, it’s too quiet and there’s no ‘loud’ button to unleash extra noise at normal urban speeds.
So I immediately found myself scrolling through to Track just to get the more desired aural feedback at moderate revs. Even then, it’s only really satisfying once you’re on the attack or roaring up a steep hill and the tacho is hovering around 5000rpm or more. The noise issue would be such an easy fix, you’d assume.
It’s very quick off the line, too, especially in Track where everything is set to the max (engine sound, suspension, engine response, gearshifts and brake feel). In fact, if you’re quick enough on the draw, the torque can overwhelm the 305 Pilot Sport 4S rear tyres for a second or two, but not in an offensive manner.
It doesn’t feel quite as furious as the Ferrari which delivers more immediacy off the line thanks to its electric motor, but for a naturally-aspirated V8, the C8 has got some serious poke served up with no lag.
Accelerating hard in third and fourth above 4500-5000rpm is the sweet-spot as far as the engine note is concerned, but there are times when you crave a lot more.
It feels very nicely balanced when tested in some tight, twisty bits of road, although the steering could be a tad quicker in my view. It’s not a genuine criticism but the chassis is rigid enough to handle slightly more directness through its squared-off steering wheel, even in Track. I think it would only enhance the driving experience.
That said, this a mid-engine supercar you can really hustle along with quick changes of direction when required, and with utmost confidence at all times. There’s never any nasty surprises with this car, it’s utterly drama free, even in average conditions.
Grip and traction from the Michelin rubber is truly exceptional, but so is the ride compliance. In Tour mode the Corvette’s adaptive suspension completely flattens broken roads, edges and smaller bumps to the point where you are only just aware of them.
Even mid-corner broken roads won’t bother the Vette in the more aggressive drive modes, which makes it the perfect daily supercar.
Same goes for braking. Push hard and there’s no discernable fade – and that’s with cast-iron rotors. There’s also a good progressive feel to the pedal.
While we didn’t get the opportunity to try the new Corvette on the track, it’s equipped with a very cool Performance Data Recorder. Once activated it can log video of your session onto an SD memory card. The system has three modes that can capture video, audio, driving stats, date, time and more. When you’re not around, Valet mode can record the car’s movements.
The Chevrolet Corvette covered by a three-year, 100,000km warranty (whichever comes first) along with three years of what GMSV calls Roadside Ultra Assistance.
Service intervals are one-year/12,000km – whichever occurs first – while capped-price servicing and Complete Care Servicing are not currently offered on Corvette in this market.
It may not deliver quite the level of visceral feedback you get from the likes of the Ferrari 296 GTB or Porsche 911 Carrera S, but the C8 Corvette is simply astonishing value for money against all of its rivals.
It’s also one of the most user-friendly. The Competition Sport seats might prove a slight challenge, but this is a mid-engine supercar your mother could drive – and with a reasonable degree of confidence I might add.
It’s also the only supercar you could legitimately drive daily and yet not stress about the cost. It delivers a thoroughly contemporary cabin with all latest tech and luxury you might expect for twice the money.
If this is Chevrolet’s first attempt at a production series mid-engine supercar, then I’ll take a Z06 right now, sight unseen.
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