It was inevitable. In fact, we were talking about it nearly three years ago.
But late last week Chevrolet finally unveiled the mid-engine Corvette. Moving the location of the engine symbolized a number of transitions for the iconic eighth-generation sports car. From an engineering perspective, the move provides better weight distribution for the C8, which improves handling and overall performance. A 6.2-liter, 495-horsepower engine will occupy that center space.
An optional ZR1 performance package allows the new Corvette to go zero to 60 mph in under three seconds, making it the fastest Corvette ever. It C8 also comes with a fast-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission, and for those more concerned about fuel efficiency, four-cylinder models are also available.
Engineers also incorporated heat shields and insulation to help reduce noise from an engine that will have moving parts less than a foot behind the driver’s seat. The C8 offers two trunks - one in the front about the size of an airline overhead bin and a rear hatch behind the engine large enough to hold two sets of golf clubs.
Right now Chevrolet is hoping you think this sounds more like a high-end European-style sports car than the traditional Corvette. That’s because the company’s pivot to a mid-engine design also emanated from a desire to attract younger buyers that assume sports car performance has to emanate from across the pond.
Described as "cab forward" design, the traditional long hood and sweeping fenders have been replaced by a downward-sloping nose that retains its traditional, shark-nose hood. One drawback to the new design is the need for large air intake vents on the sides to help cool the engine, which makes it slightly less aerodynamic.
While options can take the C8 well over $100,000, the base price comes in at about $60,000, or $4,000 more than the current base model. Chevrolet sells about 20,000 Corvettes annually, but relies on the brand to help bolster its image and engineering capabilities.
The new ‘Vette’s will be manufactured in Bowling Green, Kentucky and arrive in showrooms later this year.