Road test review: Chevrolet Corvette Stingray 3LT

  • Chevrolet Corvette Stingray 3L
  • base price: $169,900 (RightCar estimate of clean car fee: $5,175)
  • Powertrain and Economy: 6.2L Petrol V8, 369kW/637Nm, 8-speed automatic, RWD, Combined Economy 15.1L/100km, CO2 349g/km (Source: Right Car)
  • Vital Statistics: 4630 mm long, 1934 mm wide, 1234 mm high, 2723 mm wheelbase, 370 liters luggage capacity (including boot), 19″ front aluminum wheels, 20″ rear.
  • safety: not tested.
  • we love: A supercar for sports car money, comfortable and easy to live with, exciting on a winding road.
  • We don’t like: The American need for concessions to boot seems a little, you don’t need lines…

The Chevrolet Corvette is nothing less than a legend, but now that legend has undergone the biggest change in its production history, with its transition to a mid-engine production coupled with right-hand drive design for the first time. Of course, the most important thing we can take away in New Zealand from this is that we can get it right here now!

the outside

Aside from the odd yellow highlighter, the C8 Corvette looks sexy.
Damien O’Carroll/Staff

Aside from the odd yellow highlighter, the C8 Corvette looks sexy.

No matter how you feel about this slide of classic American iron transitioning into a powertrain design more closely related to Euro-slick supercars, you have to admit that the Corvette looks good.

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* The first right-hand hook Corvette to land in New Zealand
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The great-looking C7 was hard to follow (and I wouldn’t completely I disagree if you want to argue that it still looks better…), but the C8 has a serious presence, from its aggressive front end, complete with hints of both the C7′ vette and Lamborghini Aventador, to that broad, purposeful rear that lets you know It means business.

The C8 meets its predecessors, including the C5 (far left), the original C1 and the previous C7.

Damien O’Carroll/Staff

The C8 meets its predecessors, including the C5 (far left), the original C1 and the previous C7.

Well, there is a real criticism that the rear half of the car is awkwardly elongated, but that’s the result of the Corvette entirely having to have a box that swallows a bunch of putters. Yes really.

However, this is only the tiniest distraction from the general fact that the C8 is a really good looking and exciting car, even if the yellow and black accent lines of our test car didn’t quite fit my personal taste…

inside

The cabin of the C8 is well designed and impressively comfortable.  There is no particularly convenient place to put your phone though...

Damien O’Carroll/Staff

The cabin of the C8 is well designed and impressively comfortable. There is no particularly convenient place to put your phone though…

The interior of the C8 Corvette shows the astonishing quality evolution that American cars have gone through in the past few decades, managing to be exceptionally high-quality and built, something American manufacturers have often struggled with.

It’s a little more cramped than you might expect, however, a feeling that is exacerbated by the tight, fun sport seats and a wrap-around cockpit-style design that makes you feel like you’re confined to a fighter jet or a single-seat race car, but creates something of a wall between passenger and driver.

Still, it’s roomy and comfortable enough by Kiwi standards – but I wonder how an older American man with a more advanced age with an enlarged waist (ie; the average US Corvette buyer) could handle that.

Corvette's father, Zora Arkus-Duntov always wanted a mid-engine Corvette.  However, the C1 was rather cool.

Damien O’Carroll/Staff

Corvette’s father, Zora Arkus-Duntov always wanted a mid-engine Corvette. However, the C1 was rather cool.

The control design is a mixed bag, most of which makes perfect sense from an engineering point of view, but there are a few things that definitely fit in with the function — like the initially awkward array of buttons along the center console between driver and passenger. While it doesn’t take long to get to know them (and there’s a reasonable arranging for them), you’ll still find your hand hovering over them uncertainly when you want to do something that falls somewhere in the middle, like adjusting the temperature of heated seats.

Of course, being American also means something else – a very loud sound system. Not that you need it, because the C8’s best sound system is just over your left shoulder…

Under the hood

The LT2 V8 has a familiar roar, but it comes from an unfamiliar place in the C8.

Damien O’Carroll/Staff

The LT2 V8 has a familiar roar, but it comes from an unfamiliar place in the C8.

While General Motors considers the C8’s LT 6.2L V8 a clean design, and we don’t share nearly any parts with the LS V8 we’re used to here at fast Commodores, they do have one thing in common – a very familiar and obviously odd-looking engine note that emerges from behind you after Decades of hearing it come from the front.

Of course, he also looks absolutely stunning as he moves toward his red streak (which is higher than the LS), hitting the C8 forward with some serious power.

However, while it’s powerful off the line, it doesn’t necessarily feel like a car that will hit 100 km/h in 3.3 seconds as GM claims. That’s until you actually get it off the line and a little higher in the revs – then it turns absolutely brutal, punching you toward the horizon just like the Italian supercars look rather. The thrust is extraordinary, relentless and very exciting.

Yes, the Corvette got a rear box, and it would obviously fit a set of putters, too.  Obviously not when the removable roof panel is stored there though...

Damien O’Carroll/Staff

Yes, the Corvette got a rear box, and it would obviously fit a set of putters, too. Obviously not when the removable roof panel is stored there though…

But the real magic of the GM in this way is exactly how relaxed, traceable and totally friendly it is, it’s just cruising around town and not trying to peel the skin off your face with colossal accelerating forces. The C8 is a lot like a Porsche 911 to live with, in that it’s just as easy to show up in the shops as it is to knock down lap times on a track day.

Of course, this “everyday life” thing has to be balanced by the fuel consumption involved in doing so, but while GM claims a massive combined average consumption of 15.1 l/100 km for the C8, the reality is less than that – it’s better than easy Corvettes get in individual characters on the open road, while around town they still run fairly effortlessly at below their joint average as well. It’s only when you do it Is that true Start making the most of your V8’s power on a winding road that things climb even further.

On the road

Everything about Corvette's exterior lets you know it means business.  This work is moving very quickly.

Damien O’Carroll/Staff

Everything about Corvette’s exterior lets you know it means business. This work is moving very quickly.

Despite its serious sporty looks that suggest aggressively powerful driving, the C8 Corvette is indeed an impressively compatible and comfortable cruiser. Instead of feeling like a supercar and being boring and shaky on rough New Zealand roads, the Corvette feels more like a Ford Mustang, especially when the MagneRide shock absorber system is in rest mode.

Drop it into the sport and things are steady, but still never to the teeth-chopping levels, and the Corvette maintains a distinctly urban ride, even in maximum attack mode. And that’s not at the expense of handling either, it’s addictively sharp and nicely compatible with the brutality of the engine.

During my first moments in the C8, I was painfully aware of the fact that it was a mid-engine, rear-wheel drive, and all the historical baggage that comes with this kit. Sure, the Italian supercar makers—and the rear-engined Porsche 911—survived all the exhilarating drama that has traditionally accompanied this design, but will Chevrolet do it with equal success on its first try? Or will the C8 become an alarmingly powered pendulum under heavy acceleration?

The sturdy side bars include engine cooling intakes, but they also cleverly hide the door handles.

Damien O’Carroll/Staff

The sturdy side bars include engine cooling intakes, but they also cleverly hide the door handles.

Turns out, yes, of course they nailed it — the C8’s rear end is wonderfully well-behaved and perfectly predictable under heavy throttle applications, and once again reminiscent of a Mustang with its playful and totally manageable rear end.

Steering is fine and nicely precise, albeit a little muted, while the brakes are confidently good and the C8 feels compact and wonderfully agile at speed.

But like all the best American high-performance cars I’ve ever driven, the key to the Corvette’s brilliance is that sheer predictability I mentioned earlier – it certainly has the ability to easily shred rear tires out of the road at nearly any speed through a corner, but it telegraphs when It happens so beautifully and sweetly, and so well in advance, that you can always control it.

While the need to boot made the C8 a little awkward around the rear, it still looks great.

Damien O’Carroll/Staff

While the need to boot made the C8 a little awkward around the rear, it still looks great.

judgment

The Corvette C8 is, quite frankly, an absolutely fantastic piece of equipment. It combines all the exhilarating impression of a traditional front-engine/rear-engine American V8 Pony, but then adds in powerful performance to outshine it, plus a supercar for a fraction of the price of anything that looks similar.

Now, $169,900 is a steep price tag, but when paired with something like the C8, it’s an absolute bargain. Lined up alongside the BMW M3 and M4 (which book them at $168,900 and $172,900 respectively), the Corvette matches them for fun, outperforms them in performance (both BMWs hit 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds) and absolutely crushes them in terms of Presence, drama and just wow.

For any mid-engine that offers similar looks and performance, you should double the asking price. It’s hard to argue who – which Not a deal.

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