Working at a Chevy dealership has its perks, and while most of it is driving around the boring Malibu and Equinoxes— we get a lot of Equinoxes for some reason, I get to drive Corvettes. Now, I drive a Corvette everyday, I own a 2001 ‘Vette, but that isn’t exactly the same as the new ones. The C7 generation of the Corvette came and went leaving honorable impressions on everyone. From the 600+ horsepower Z06 to the king of them all ZR1, the C7 never failed to disappoint. However it was the last of one of the longest lasting automotive traditions of all time. With the C8, Chevrolet decided enough was enough. Slap the motor in the rear, let it play with the big dogs. Challenging the likeness of Ferraris, McLarens, and Lamborghinis, this American icon has a twist. It costs a fraction of those monsters. And so it stands, the American traitor may not be such an dual agent anymore, retaining one of the most hallowed features of the Corvette image— its value.
While the Corvette is by no stretch of imagination cheap, it sure isn’t expensive. With base prices starting out just at $59,900 you don’t have to sell your left kidney in order to afford performance. While Chevrolet scrapped all the cool trim levels like the ZR1 and the Z06, they replaced it with a mundane letter and number soup like the 1LT and the 2LT. The understanding here is that it’s a new setup, new everything, Chevy wanted to get everything in place before they launch their bonkers variations of it.
With that being said, The C8 Z06 is poised to come out sooner than later with a flat plane high redline V8 instead of the traditional pushrod V8 used since 1953. The base model, and every trim level so far will use its standard naturally aspirated LT2 6.2L hallmark V8 that’s an update of the 2019 LT1. For a car that just weighs 3,500 lbs that’s plenty of poot behind the hood, or trunk, or hood, or… hrunk? Nevertheless, driving it, was just as advertised.
Putting all that power to the ground right away is a powerful Tremec-engineered dual clutch transmission that puts a crap ton of power down on first gear. You’re breathless before you could even hit the upshift paddle. Taking it around the block was already more than I bargained for. Just starting it up I was met with a famiilar loud growl we found in previous ‘Vettes. For something that cheap, it sure sounds like something way out of its league. Mounted on top of sticky Michelin Pilot Sport tires with tread one could laugh at, you get a lot of wheelspin in certain modes especially out of first gear. But here comes the kicker, the wheelspin doesn’t actually detract from the launches. Running a manufacturer stated 0-60 of 2.9 seconds, we clocked in at just 3.01 seconds with slight wheelspin. That’s something you don’t get with a lot of other cars. On the dyno, the power band is linear, meaning with the loss in first, you’ll rack up plenty of speed in second and third. The power of a naturally aspirated V8.
Taking it on Farm to Market Road 455 just north of Dallas, I’ve never felt more planted to the ground. Utilizing GM’s fabled MagneRide, their magnetic ride suspension, you could choose between various different modes. All of which you can feel distinctively and are perfect in their own rights. Put it in track mode for some spirited canyon carving and we guarantee you’ll have the most fun you’ll ever have. Breathless, we stopped at an overpass and said to ourselves, “That’s [bleep]ing magic”. Pushing it to its limits made it seem like it had none. Routinely we’d hit curves at not so recommended speeds and it handled like something 5 times the price. Breathtaking acceleration from the turns made our pilot car look behind themselves scared to get passed. Not a single shred of body roll was felt, I have no clue, neither does anyone else, how they make something this good, so cheap.
Well actually we do, GM shares their Corvette platform with multiple other vehicles, or at least plan to in the near future. Bringing us to our next point… which is the elephant in the room. By revamping the whole setup and structure of one of America’s most beloved icons, Chevrolet has gotten some heat for it. It defies the traditional structure of the Corvette, a front engine design. While that may have angered nearly every boomer at the neighborhood cookout who somehow bought a house for a nickel and a quarter back in the “good ol’ days”, it certainly didn’t anger the Corvette itself. Featuring an out of the blue revamp and new everything, the C8 started to play ball with the big boys. Treading in supercar waters, the C8 might not have been welcome, but it doesn’t care. Handling just as good as supercars our team was asking, “How much does this thing cost again?” and, “My Audi costs more than that!”. Just a testament to how much of a bargain this thing is. Albeit many people think the same way I do, and dealers are marking up the C8 due to heavy demand way over MSRP, retailing for nearly $90,000-$100,000+. Even pre-owned sales don’t depreciate, making the C8 one of the most stangnant value cars to date. Putting the engine in the rear also allows for superior pin-your-head-back acceleration like we mentioned. Feather in the throttle lightly and you’ll get all sorts of fun. Slipping around with the RWD, yet excellent traction in poor weather, donuts are a given in the Corvette.
Sitting in the interior, various specs are available as always, and at this price point that should be a given. Exterior like a supercar, interior like one too. With a heavy driver’s focus, the one thing that stands out is the vast array of buttons lining the column facing you. Looking at it gets anyone a little dizzy, and using it conveniently is quite the challenge. Your passenger will just have to suffer while they get none of the options. You’ll probably end a friendship in the span of a 20 minute car ride but hey, you drive a Corvette, who wouldn’t want to be your friend? The steering wheel is square… like a box. Yes. A square steering wheel. Running this over with my team we understand it’s supposed to emulate a F1 racing wheel and the general consensus is that it’s supposed to be easier to steer. But it’s not. It’s annoying and gimmicky, one of the more disappointing engineering elements of the interior. It’s suede or leather though, two very comfortable steering wheel materials, I can’t complain there. Bolstered leather seats hold you in with “Corvette Competition” inscribed on the headrest, a seriously cool look. Those seats don’t let you move either. Pulling .91 G’s on our test course, the seats didn’t let me even wiggle a little bit out of place. Paired with the Corvette’s intuitive Heads Up Display, eyes were locked on the road the entire time.
With that growling exhaust note or song as I shall call it, driving the C8 was a pure blast. Cutoff valves and huge down pipes allow for that titanium exhaust to purely back out all of its gasses freely and in a good tone. The cutoff valves also make for a roadtrip monster if you’d like a quiet ride as well. Tuning in at 74 decibels when quiet, and roaring at well over 150 windows down on track mode, you get the best of both worlds.
As the point since 1953 stands, The Corvette has been the biggest bargain of the automotive world. And it certainly is at its peak right now. Mid-engine or not, the Corvette will continue to stand as an American icon with one of the best driving experiences of all time. That hasn’t changed since ’53, and certainly won’t now.