How the 2020 Corvette C8 Turned This Vette Hater Into a Believer
The one thing keeping the Corvette from greatness has been thoroughly rectified.
Over nearly a decade of driving and reviewing Corvettes, I never quite "got" America's sports car. To me, it always seemed to fall stubbornly and annoyingly shy of its true potential. The Corvette has long delivered incredible performance—not just for the money, but period—yet it's also needed to remain relatively affordable. Translation? Anything not having to do with performance suffered, meaning the cars had rough edges and mediocre-quality interiors that no Porsche customer would tolerate. Or me, as an armchair sports-car shopper who couldn't afford a Corvette or, say, a 911, but found the latter far more desirable for its cohesive, total excellence. If only the Vette cost a little more money, I always figured, it would achieve true greatness and be as well rounded as the twice-as-expensive 911 it's so often compared with.
As it turns out, Chevy didn't need to double the Corvette's price to "fix" it in the eyes of snooty skeptics like me. It didn't really need to raise the price at all, or mess with the car's insane performance. At $59,995 to start, the 2020 Corvette is only a few thousand dollars more than the 2019 model it replaces. Think about that for a second! The engine's in the other end of the car, the Corvette's already formidable mechanical package has been amped up to suit its damn-near-exotic layout and capabilities, and most critically for me, the interior is finally price-appropriate.
For context, a loaded Ford Explorer now runs 60 grand. That figure also happens to be in the ballpark of a base 718 Cayman, a Porsche model that's smaller than the C8 and powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that's down about 200 horsepower to the Corvette. Where the Porsche's interior is impeccably assembled but dour in appearance, the Corvette's is adventurous without seeming flamboyant or cheap. It's a needle that Chevrolet (or General Motors) has never before threaded so successfully in my jaded mind; to me, GM's previous attempts usually resembled one of those sports team mascots crashing through a flaming hula hoop during a halftime show. Sure, the furry figure achieved the leap, probably, but the trick hardly was executed skillfully.
So, yes, the 2020 Vette's increase in perceived overall quality and its interior transformation have transformed me from a Corvette skeptic to a full-throated believer. They were the missing puzzle pieces to the car offering 911-like total dominance, as it already had excellent driving dynamics, unreal ride quality, and often thrilling exterior styling. While the C7 generation's interior was a high-water mark for Corvette interior quality, its style was bland and derivative, with plenty of parts sharing with lesser Chevys. For the 2020 model, GM's designers and engineers blended the C7's material improvements with an awesome, original fighter-jet-cockpit design theme. Just look at that dramatic, arcing row of precise-fitting buttons separating the driver's seat from the passenger area and the squared-off, two-spoke steering wheel. It's utterly unique and very appealing (even if it can make the passenger feel a bit hemmed in).
On a more meta level, Chevy really shot for the moon stylistically, matching the leap it took in switching the car's engine layout from the front to the middle. The cut-above switchgear, ambitious design inside and out, and tight fits rise to the rest of the car's sense of occasion. While the examples I've driven admittedly have been optioned up, I couldn't find an obvious example of cost-cutting or a tragic expanse of ungrained, crummy-looking plastic anywhere obvious—and I tried. Nor did a scent of glue or adhesives, long a Corvette interior bugaboo, wrinkle my nose.
The Corvette is now a complete vehicle, one that'll arouse at the track or on a challenging back road, draw eyeballs and strangers' cell phones wherever it goes, delight its driver with long-distance comfort, and feel as if it costs more than it does. It is a total feat of engineering and design that gives you the same pervading sense of driving something special, from the engine bay to the grab handles, that you get when you sit in any Porsche product. That GM pulled it off without charging customers Porsche 911 money is a triumph. Where talk of the Corvette's value previously came with asterisks denoting what was sacrificed on the altar of X, Y, or Z, there simply aren't any this time around. And that has alchemized the Corvette experience. The car is great, hands-down. In fact, it's so good and so exotic-looking that I'm worried buyers won't realize how within reach the 2020 Corvette really is.
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