Wild Thing: Chevy’s New Corvette

Believe the hype, this mid-engined 'Vette is one amazing supercar

If you’re a lover of adrenaline-pumping, finger-tingling, punch-in-the-solar-plexus supercars, I have two little words for you: New Corvette.

Just feast your eyes on the thing. There’s more visual drama here than RuPaul and Gaga combined. More air-gulping intakes than an F-22 Raptor. More ripped muscle than Sly in his prime. Just standing still it looks like it’s cleaving the atmosphere at 200 mph.

Unless you’ve been social-distancing on Bora Bora for the past 12 months, you’ll know that the supercar world got all shook-up last summer with GM’s unveiling of its all-new, eighth-generation ‘Vette.

And this was not just another iteration of America’s favorite sports car; it was a complete reinvention of the brand. After 66 years of having its engine up front, this new C8 plants its honking 6.2-liter V8 right behind the driver.

Yet delivering a mid-engined Corvette with almost 500 horsepower, sensational performance, other-worldy handling, plus a huge step-up in quality, seemingly wasn’t enough for GM. It sealed the deal with a huge sticker shock.

In this rarified section of the supercar market, where the price of entry starts at well over $150,000, a very-nicely-equipped “base” Corvette Stingray costs – drumroll, please – just $59,995. Heck, there are Chevy pick-ups that cost more.

And even when you start slathering on the options, like the must-have $5,000 Z51 Performance package, with its beefier brakes, freer-breathing exhaust and amazing MagneRide adaptive suspension, it’s hard to push the price tag much above $80,000. It makes this the best-value supercar money can buy. Period.

So what’s the big deal with having a Corvette with its engine amidships? It’s all about handling poise and balance. Whereas the last-generation Corvette C7 was a brutish blunt instrument, this C8 is a marvel of driving sophistication.

How sophisticated? After a week of runs to Trader Joe’s, endless curve-carving on Interstate on-ramps, and friends-and-family foot-to-the-floor thrill rides, I would have happily donated a kidney to have kept this slingshot in my driveway. Yes, it’s that good.

Of course it’s fast. Blisteringly fast. With 495 horsepower, 470 lb-ft of torque and a light-switch-fast 8-speed dual-clutch automatic, the rear-drive C8 can catapult off the line and hit 60mph in a pulmonary-pounding 2.9 seconds. Top speed? That would be 184 mph.

But unlike the previous C7 ‘Vette which had an exhaust that growled like an angry Rottweiler, this new mid-engined rocketship sounds more subtle, less raucous, more refined, though thankfully still vocally authoritative when you dial-up Sport+.

And it’s an absolute joy to drive. You sit in body-clamping bucket seats, hang on to a funky, rectangular wheel and feel like you’re in the cockpit of a military jet. Heads-up display on the windshield, check. Hi-def touchscreen angled towards the driver, check. Switches and buttons everywhere, check, check.

While the upcoming Florida-friendly convertible version will be worth waiting for, in Corvette tradition the C8 coupe comes standard with a lightweight, removable roof panel that stows easily in the trunk.     

Release two levers on the windshield header and one above the seats and the panel pops right off. You can wrangle it yourself no problem in 30 seconds. And with it removed you can run at speeds up to, say, 80 without too much wind buffeting.

For a supercar, the C8 is surprisingly accommodating. With the top in place, the rear trunk can easily swallow a couple of golf bags, or a couple of roller-boards. Now pop the trunk at the front – the, er, frunk – and there’s space for two well-stuffed weekend bags. That’s an excellent 12.6 cubic feet in total.

Shortcomings? The biggest is the dreadful rear-three-quarter visibility; pulling out of an angled road junction is a real leap of faith. Road roar from those huge gumball tires, especially on harsh concrete, quickly gets old.

But here is a true engineering marvel, an all-American performance masterpiece that can hold its head high among anything Europe has to offer. And at a price that seems unreal.

Now remind me how I get to Route 66?

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