The anticipation for the new Chevrolet Corvette has been palpable, with leaks and guesswork going around as the unveil neared. Chevy finally unveiled the new 'Vette with introductions from astronauts and other Apollo Mission tie-ins to further pump up the occasion.
The new Corvette is a mid-engine design, putting the big growling powerhouse behind the driver instead of in front, but retains its rear-wheel-drive focus as an American sports coupe. The first 2020 Chevrolet Corvette models to hit showrooms will be the Stingray option, but Chevy executives on hand promised track-focused and other models will also be coming. It's also been confirmed the car will be released globally thanks to the availability of a right-hand-drive model.
The 2020 Stingray will be the fastest and most powerful base model Corvette ever introduced and putting the engine mid-ships will mark a Chevrolet first.
"Corvette has always represented the pinnacle of innovation and boundary-pushing at GM," said GM President Mark Reuss. "The traditional front-engine vehicle reached its limits of performance, necessitating the new layout."
The exterior design of the 2020 Corvette Stingray features the proportions expected of a mid-engined supercar, including the fat rear end and forward-leaning bias most associated with them. The signature "Coke bottle" shape of the 'Vette remains in the overall profile, though, as does the angular rear end and the strong Corvette swoop at the front bumper.
Corvette designers mentioned aircraft and fighter planes as inspiration for the new car, a mainstay trope for sports cars that has been there since the beginning. What's new, though, is the aggressive way the new 'Vette pushes the air with a lower front fascia resembling British racers and a rear haunch and side intake that might remind one of Italian makes. The Corvette has always been America's most European sports car, but will retain one uniquely American trait in its build. A huge, naturally-gulping V8.
The Stingray will use the next generation of Chevrolet's now-iconic small block 6.2-liter V8. The new LT2 version of the engine outputs 495 horsepower (369 kW) and 470 lb-ft (637 Nm) of torque when equipped with an optional performance exhaust. Chevy did not say what that exhaust adds, but we can surmise that it's around 5-10 horses over the standard exhaust given the current-gen C7 'Vette's changes with a similar upgrade.
Positioned low in the car, the new V8 has been designed to push power early in the RPM band towards a newly-developed transmission. That eight-speed dual-clutch automatic is performance-focused and includes both full manual control (via paddle shifting) and automatic shifting, and includes a de-clutch feature that can be used by pulling both paddle shifters simultaneously.
The engine's responses are optimized to match that new transmission's capabilities. Chevrolet says that the big V8, seen through a glass panel in the rear hatch, was engineered with several performance components as standard, including 25 percent more oil cooling than the previous-generation's V8 included.
To keep all of this performance on the road, the Corvette has undergone a complete overhaul of its chassis design. Being mid-engined, dynamics changed completely, Chevrolet's Tadge Jeuchter, Corvette executive chief engineer said. The car includes coil-over dampers, a straight and stiff steering system, and an electric-assist electronic steering control that speeds responses to driver inputs.
"Thanks to sophisticated suspension geometry, tailored tire technology and exquisite attention to structural details, we have improved ride and handling," said Juechter.
The steering ratio of the new Stingray is 15.7:1, an improvement of over a full point over the previous generation's steering. Holding the tarmac underneath the car are specially-designed Michelin all-season performance tires that can handle near-1G corners. For practicality, the front suspension has a 2-inch (40-mm) lift that can raise the front bumper in under three seconds under low-speed driving conditions. This allows more clearance for abrupt road transitions, potholes, and steep driveways. That system can remember up to 1,000 GPS locations, programmed by the driver, in order to make the transition automatic.
Chevrolet also announced a new Z51 performance package that will include a performance-tuned suspension, larger brake calipers, enhanced cooling systems, a more track-focused axle ratio, cooling inlets for the front brakes, and a performance exhaust upgrade. The 'Vette Z51 also has an electronic limited-slip rear differential, a modified front splitter and rear spoiler to add 400 lb (181 kg) of downforce at speed, and an option to add Magnetic Ride Control 4.0, the latest suspension customization system. This package will see the car go from 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) in under three seconds.
The new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray will enter showrooms in late 2019 and will be priced at under US$60,000 to start. Chevrolet has promised more information and pricing as the car nears production and launch.
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