Charl Bosch
Online Motoring Reporter
4 minute read
19 Jul 2019
11:03 am

First ever mid-mounted Chevrolet Corvette debuts

Charl Bosch

After months of speculation and sightings of camouflaged test mules and pre-production models undergoing testing, General Motors (GM) has finally revealed the most radical iteration of the iconic Chevrolet Corvette to date, the new mid-engine C8 Stingray.

Wholly brand-new with its styling said to have come from the aeronautical industry, the mid-ship Corvette retains the pointy nose of its C7’s predecessor, but boasts a lower stance, hidden door handles, quad exhaust outlets and prominent air intakes integrated into the side panels to aid cooling.

Said to have had its cab layout inspired by those of modern Formula 1 cars, as well as the F22 Raptor and F35 fighter jets, the C8’s construction makes extensive use of aluminium, carbon fibre and ultra-lightweight steel, though GM claims that the switch from front to mid-engine has not impeded on its “fun-to-drive DNA”.

Underneath its skin, the C8 not only introduces the fourth generation of Chevrolet’s Magnetic Ride Control suspension, but which now comes with a self-lifting function that raises the nose by 40 mm in 2.8 seconds at speeds up to 38 km/h to avoid low surface or pothole damage.

Tipping the scales at 1 530 kg, the Corvette also features an electronic limited slip differential for the first time, a two-piece rear splitter that is said to generate up to 180 kg of downforce when combined with the front, recalibrated steering and a Launch Control function.

As part of the optional Z51 Performance Pack, the standard issue Michelin Pilot Sport ALS tyres are swapped for Pilot Sport 4S rubber, while the Brembo brakes, which features an eBoost system, receives a disc size upgrade from 321 mm at the front and 339 mm at the rear, to 345 mm and 350 mm respectively. Adding to the Z51 pack is improved cooling, manually adjustable springs, cooling ducts for the mentioned, uprated brakes and a model specific axle ratio.

Inside, the interior and its layout rates as the most extreme of any Corvette to date, with a full digital layout angled towards the driver and claimed to have been designed with, once again, the aeronautical industry in mind. In this instance, the instrument cluster measures 12-inches while the centre console is highlighted by a new touchscreen infotainment system of unspecified size, in addition to the buttons for the gearbox.

The fighter plane canopy theme also means that most of the functions for the heated seats and climate control have been moved to the outer edge of the console on a thin panel, while the drive mode selector, whose rotary dial is located next to the gear shift buttons, has been expanded from four to six settings; the carried over Tour, Weather, Sport and Track modes, plus the new configurable MyMode and the Z mode located on the new, thin-rim steering wheel that ups the MyMode functions by adjusting the engine and transmission.

A further novelty is that the seats can be configured from a choice of three positions; GT1 that focuses on comfort with the seats being trimmed in Mulan leather with optional electric lumbar support for the driver, GT2 that is more sports orientated with Nappa leather inserts, heating and cooling, jet-black seat backs and two-way lumbar support, and Competition Sport that comes with full Nappa leather, carbon fibre inserts on the headrests and Kevlar inspired textiles.

In terms of equipment, the C8 features a heated steering wheel, data recorder integrated into the infotainment system, memory front seats, wireless smartphone charger and a choice of two Bose sound systems; a 10-speaker premium audio and the optional 14-speaker Performance Series setup.

Completing the interior are six colour options; Jet Black, Natural/ Natural Dipped, Sky Cool Grey, Adrenaline Red and Two-Tone Blue/Morello Red, two top-stitching colours (Red and Yellow) and six hues for the safety belts (Black, Natural, Blue, Yellow, Orange and Torch Red).

Now nestled in the middle, the latest take on the iconic small-block V8, known as LT2, displaces 6.2-litres and delivers 365kW/630Nm. Add the Z51 pack though, and outputs increase to 369kW/637Nm. While drive is once again routed to the rear wheels, the C8 marks a departure from previous Corvettes by dropping the manual gearbox all-together for a brand-new eight-speed dual-clutch. Somewhat oddly, no performance figures were revealed.

In the United States, production of the C8 will commence later this year at the Bowling Green Plant in Kentucky with anticipated pricing from $60 000 (R831 660) and in a choice of 12 colours; Black, Blade Silver Metallic, Arctic White, Shadow Grey, Ceramic Matrix Grey, Elkhart Lake Blue, Torch Red, Sebring Orange, Long Beach Red and three new options, Zeus Bronze, Accelerate Yellow and Rapid Blue.

The biggest headline however is that the C8 will become the first Corvette to be made in factory approved right-hand-drive for markets such as the United Kingdom and Australia, the latter secluded to receive its first batch sometime next year. Following GM’s much publicised exit out of South Africa two years ago, though, the C8 will, sadly, remain forbidden fruit for local buyers.

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.