There was so much made in the months leading up to the debut of the first mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette in the summer of 2019 that you might have wondered if the vehicle itself could live up to all the hoopla.
But after a week in this beauty to start off the new year, I’m here to say that the C8 Corvette Stingray has not only lived up to expectations, it has taken the Great American Sports Car to a new, higher level.
The placement of the engine from in front of the driver to just behind in a mid-engine configuration is what has gotten the most attention, but designers just didn’t stick a V8 engine behind the cockpit and consider their work done.
They gave the 2020 Corvette an entire new look with a European flair and sleeker styling. This wasn’t just tinkering with the front fascia or the addition of quad headlights or the shark-like profile of models from the late 1960s to early ’80s.
This is a redesign in every sense of the word.
“Looks like a Lamborghini,” was a comment I heard from a mechanic at one non-Chevy dealer’s service bay.
This may upset some purists, but likely was a necessary move for the company to keep the Corvette relevant in the changing tastes of today’s market. Frankly, front-engine Corvettes of the past kind of struck me of being on the bulky side. Not so with this new model.
Chevy first introduced the 2020 Corvette as a coupe in July 2019 and three months later came out with a convertible version. Both bear the “Stingray” label from the 1960s and are powered by a 6.2-liter, naturally aspirated V8 engine pushing out 490 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque in base form and 495/470, respectively, with the performance exhaust available in the optional Performance Package.
A dual clutch 8-speed automatic is the only transmission offered — another Corvette first — and no manual is available, another reason for purists to decry the changes. Yes, of course, you can use paddle shifters for manual gear selection, and the instrument panels also displays what gear you are in when sticking to automatic mode.
Fuel mileage figures, assuming you care, are 15 miles per gallon city, 27 highway, and 19 combined, which compare favorably int the luxury sports car segment, though not the best.
Several Corvette competitors in the segment easily run into the six figures with at least a couple topping the $200,000 mark.
Among standard features included in the starting price for the Corvette Convertible are the retractable roof and a power glass rear window that serves as a back windscreen when the roof is lowered, LED headlamps, 8-way power bucket seats,, dual zone automatic climate control, rear camera mirror (a nice touch considering the restrict rear view), leather-wrapped steering wheel, lockable stowage, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column, and a wi-fi hotspot.
Connectivity standard features include Chevrolet’s Infotainment 3-Plus system with an 8-inch screen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a driver information center with a 12-inch diagonal display with selectable modes and gauge configurations, keyless open and start, and OnStar services.
A refined, high-class cabin is definitely driver focused with pretty much everything in finger-tip reach of who is behind the wheel. Many functions work off buttons arranged in a waterfall cascade down the right side of the center console, which are the cabin’s most distinctive feature.
The squared off steering wheel and supportive nature of the GT2 bucket seat sides give a driver the feel of being in an airplane cockpit.
A slew of option packages can run up the cost starting with the 3LT Convertible Premium Equipment Package that adds $11,450 to the bottom line. It includes navigation, Bose premium speakers, and heated and ventilated seats among many other things.
A Z51 Performance Package (for that hp and torque boost) includes Z51 performance brakes and performance suspension and exhaust was included in my test Corvette and adds another $5,000.
The options don’t stop there, and the total for my test Corvette came to $90,775, which is still below the starting price of some of its competitors.
My experience was in the 2020 model that introduced the Corvette’s eighth generation. There are no major changes for the 2021 Corvette.
What I liked about the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible: This is one of the few convertibles that looks as good with the roof up as with it lowered, plus raising and lowering the roof is a snap. Just push a button that is among the switches on the side of the driver’s door. Infotainment features are intuitive and easy to operate. Performance is exhilarating, both in straight-line throttle response and precise cornering. I also liked the flat-bottom and top steering wheel. And, of course, th Corvette is an attention-getter in looks.
What I didn’t like about the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible: Rear vision is restricted when the roof is closed so adjusting your mirrors properly, particularly the side mirrors, is a must. It’s a bear getting in and out of, especially with the top up.
Would I buy the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible? In a heart beat.
*Photos furnished by Chevrolet