The pictures have been circulating for some time now, but they don’t adequately prepare you for running into the new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette in person. The angles feel sharper, the stance more menacing and the new proportions — thanks to the new mid-engine setup — still look more Acura NSX than Corvette to me.
All of the excitement around the eighth-generation Corvette, known as the C8, is rightfully justified by its raw numbers: zero-to-60 mph in under 3 seconds, starting at less than $60,000 and 495 horsepower pumped out from its naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V-8. To see that engine now, you have to approach the Corvette from the rear, where the big V-8 sits tucked in snugly behind the cabin.
Slim but Spacious
From that angle, you also get a peek at the updated cabin, which looks much narrower. The exhaust pipes used to run down the center of the car, but they have been moved out to the sides, which makes it look like you have to climb over a section of the car to get inside. Chevy, however, says the entry and egress measures on the new car are the same as on the previous-generation C7. While it’s still a low car to climb into, I found that to be true — no weird body parts or panels got too in the way. The only problem might be climbing in from the passenger side, as there isn’t a handle to grab onto anywhere, so you end up reaching for that long trim piece that extends from the dash. I also found that there was still plenty of space for both passengers; even with the slimmer cabin, you won’t feel like you’re sitting scrunched up or on top of one another.
To put a damper on any of my excitement for the new Vette, the interior would really have to fall flat — but that didn’t happen. The car I got to poke around was clearly of a higher trim level; the leather and all of the touch points felt luxury grade, and the seats felt comfortable enough for passengers that are even larger than me. For taller drivers, the Corvette always has been a more accommodating sports car, and the C8 ups the ante here: Chevrolet says designers have doubled the seatback range angle, and it can now fit folks up to 6 feet, 7 inches tall.
The new, larger infotainment screen sits higher up on the dashboard, which is a good change, as the previous screen felt a bit buried. From the driver’s seat, it’s easy enough to reach thanks to it being sharply angled toward the driver. From the passenger seat, you actually have to crane your neck a bit to get a peek at the close edge of the screen.
One change I am not so sure about is the absence of any kind of grab handle for the passenger. Under more aggressive driving conditions, if the seats aren’t up to the task, passengers will be doing a lot of bouncing around the cabin.
The climate and seat heating/ventilation controls have also moved into an curious spot: on top of the long, extended piece of trim that divides the cabin in two. I counted 14 individual buttons and three switches atop that divider and I am not sure how easy it will be to remember where each of them is — and it’s a long way for your eyes to travel to adjust any of them while on the road.
Junk in the Frunk?
The Corvette always has been one of the more cargo-friendly sports cars, and the new car is no exception — though it does have slightly less cargo room than the outgoing model, which provided 15.0 cubic feet on coupe models. The C8 has 12.6 cubic feet, but it’s split between two storage areas, one in the back and a “frunk,” an under-the-hood storage space that comes courtesy of the mid-engine configuration. The frunk is pretty small; you won’t be able to fit more than a carry-on bag and maybe a small backpack up there together, but the rear area is larger, and Chevrolet says it will fit two golf bags. It also still has mounts to store the removable roof, which is a favorite feature of mine.
All that’s left now is for us to get behind the wheel and see just how much more the 2020 Corvette can push the envelope when it comes to performance. Thankfully, the wait won’t be too much longer, with the new Corvette scheduled to start production in late 2019.
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