There’s a funny thing about the future — you never really know when you’re there. Or do you? If we stop to look around for just a second (which is a long time in this day and age), we might just notice that we have portable phones that we can talk to and give us information instantly. Or that we can stream our favorite movies like the Avengers from an airport bathroom. Or that we can order something with the click of a button and have it show up on our doorstep that same day. Or how about the fact that we have cars that can actually drive us around? Speaking of cars, the other big sign that we are officially in the future? How about the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51?
We always knew a mid-engine Corvette was coming. There were hints at in the Stingray 3 back in the ’90’s, which not-so-coincidentally made its only real life cameo in the then-futuristic Stallone masterpiece Demolition Man. But, even with the onset of the risk-taking stylings of the C7, we still aren’t sure if we’re ready for the C8 … but it’s here nonetheless.
Aside from the obvious mid-engine layout, it helps to know what that mid engine is. In this case, a 6.2-liter all-aluminum direct-injected LT2 V8, which ironically enough is still a pushrod engine. Putting down a massive 495-horsepower at a just-shy-of-redline 6,450 rpm and equally impressive 470 lb-ft of torque at 5,150 rpm, this Vette hauls. Of course, it does have a sizable 3,647 pounds to haul, but in this iteration, the Corvette wears its weight differently. In the C7, power was never the problem, it was getting that power to the tarmac. But with a 39.4%/60.6% front/rear weight bias, most of that heft is sitting directly over the rear wheels, which means more power actually finds the ground and becomes useful. Of course, the huge 245/35ZR-19 front and 305/30ZR-20 rear Michelin Pilot Sport tires help grip as well.
With minimal slip, the C8 rockets from 0-60 mph in just 2.8 seconds — which for those keeping score at home, is quicker than the C7 ZO6 and ZR1. Of course, that monster horsepower advantage the C7’s have eventually overtakes the C8, that’s still an impressive feat. And going from 0-100 mph in just 7.2 seconds, and on it’s way to a quarter mile run of 11.2 seconds at 122 mph and an eventual top speed of 184 mph is nothing to sneeze at either. Massive 13.6-inch front and 13.8-inch vented disc brakes help scrub off speed as fast as it gets going, dropping back down from 70-0 mph in 149 feet. That newfound weight distribution also helps provide a mild understeer while posting a 1.03 g around the skidpad.
Sadly however, there is one aspect of the future we wholeheartedly reject, and that is a distant lack of manual transmissions. Sure, a computer can shift faster than we can, but what is the price of a connection to your car worth? More than a couple tenths of a second for most of us. Yet, the C8 only offers up one transmission, and that is an 8-speed dual clutch automatic. Hopefully, if Avengers Endgame has taught us anything about the future, it is that the future can still be changed.
Of course, the future does have some more positives. It wasn’t long ago that you could tell someone they’d be driving around a 500-horsepower mid-engined monster and somehow getting 16/26/19 city/highway/combined mpg, and they would send you off to the looney bin never to be heard from again. Oh, and let’s not forget that you can have all of that for a base price of just $64,995 … crazier still.
We are grateful, and extremely impressed that Chevy has made the C8 still resemble the Corvette we have come to know and love, and yet, also mimic the stylings of a McLauren and/or NSX. No matter what angle you see the C8, it looks stunning and ready to race, and that is what being a Corvette is all about. So, while ‘popping the hood’ in the center of the car is going to take some getting used to, we are willing to welcome the C8 with open arms … we suppose it’s about time. The future is a funny thing, you never really know when you’re there. That is, until you stop and look around and realize that the mid-engined C8 is finally here, and all of a sudden it feels like the future got here fast. Considering that it’s a Corvette after all, that seems about right.