By Peter Perrotta
In 1953, the engineers and designers at Chevrolet introduced to the world the first generation Corvette – a two seat convertible sports car that was supposed to “wow” the American consumer.
Chevrolet produced 300 of this new model, which, at that time sold for a whopping $3,498.
Reviews of the new American sports car were mixed and sales fell far short of expectations. The Corvette program was nearly canceled.
Well, a funny thing happened on the way to becoming, arguably, the greatest American iconic automobile in history.
The designers and engineers at Chevrolet persisted and kept tinkering with what they knew would eventually catch on to be a popular sports car. They were right!
Now, a full 67 years later, Chevrolet is still “wowing” the world with its Corvette Stingray.
Not satisfied with resting on its laurels, for what has been a great American success story, Chevrolet has stood the American motoring public literally on its head with the eighth generation Corvette Stingray – the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible.
What is different about this all-new, totally redesigned – from the ground up – Corvette?
Well, quite frankly, folks, everything.
I recently spent a full week behind the wheel of this new Corvette – a stunning Rapid Blue with a Sky Cool Gray interior and a hard-top convertible that goes down with a simple push of a button.
First off, this new Corvette doesn’t look anything like your grandfather’s Corvette. It’s totally redesigned look – very aggressive, sporty and sculpted – lends itself more to that of the Italian Lamborghini than the Vette we have been used to seeing (see photo).
If public reaction and head turning ability could be rated, I would have to give this new Corvette a solid 10 on a scale of 1 to 10.
I must honestly say, that in all my years of road testing cars for review, I have never seen a car turn as many heads as this one. Strangers would take pictures of it in parking lots. Fellow motorists would snap cell phone shots of it as you passed them by.
And, it was hard to go to the local Starbucks or supermarket without someone stopping me and wanting to talk about it.
Just a simply amazing reaction from the general motoring public.
But, it’s not just the exterior design that’s groundbreaking with this new Corvette, there is much more packed inside.
The most obvious groundbreaking new design with this 2020 Corvette, is that it is Chevrolet’s first ever production mid-engine Corvette. For 67 years prior, all Corvettes were produced as front engine, rear wheel drive roadsters.
Not this one.
“Corvette has always represented the pinnacle of innovation and boundary pushing at GM,” says GM president, Mark Reuss. “The traditional front-engine vehicle reached its limits of performance, necessitating the new layout. In terms of comfort and fun, it still looks and feels like a Corvette, but drives better than any vehicle in Corvette history,” he adds.
I would have to agree.
Most front engine, rear wheel drive roadsters I have driven, are no fun to drive in the rain or snow. Most of the time, you end up fishtailing all over the place. Not a very secure feeling.
Not with this new mid-engine Corvette.
The second day I had this tester, I ventured to take it out in a driving rain storm on Route 295. The mid-engine design worked extremely well. I selected the “weather” mode on the driving style selector and securely went 65 to 75 miles per hour in the rain without ever feeling unsafe.
The mid-engine design affords this sportster a very equal weight distribution.
There are several versions of the new Corvette, model wise. The one I drove was the LT1 convertible that carries a base sticker price of $66,400.
With a few options added and a $1,095 destination and delivery charge, my tester carried a bottom line sticker price of $70,880.
The added options on my tester included: $1,295 for carbon flash painted nacelles and body color convertible top; $1,195 for the performance exhaust; $500 for the Rapid Blue exterior paint job and $395 for the blue seat belts.
The editors at Car and Driver noted as high points of the new Vette: “Supercar performance at an amazing price, comfortable on the road and incredible on the track, much improved interior quality.”
Powering this new Corvette is the standard 6.2 liter, V-8 engine that puts out an impressive 490 horsepower and 470 pound feet of torque.
This car is plenty fast, folks. If you put it in the “track” mode it is incredibly fast. In fact, the local police loved just tailing me just to see if I was going to misbehave in this beast.
Chevrolet officials claim that if you get the new Corvette equipped with the Z51 performance package, it then becomes the fastest Corvette in history – able to get from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds.
My overall driving impression after one week behind the wheel of this new Vette, is quite simply, “Wow!” – a totally exhilarating experience to drive one of these automotive wonders.
If you are itching to buy or lease one of these new Corvettes, it may not be as easy as you think. In some areas, there is as much as a one-year waiting list. In fact, some dealers are reported to be charging a market adjusted $10,000 to $20,000 over sticker premium on the car.
The EPA fuel consumption ratings on this Corvette give it an average of 19 miles per gallon – with 27 mpg on the highway and 15 in city driving.
The EPA estimates that the annual average fuel cost for driving this Corvette would be $5,250 as it uses about 5.3 gallons of fuel per every 100 miles driven.
Peter Perrotta’s On The Road column appears weekly. If you have any questions or comments he can be reached at email@example.com.