The 2022 Chevrolet Corvette is 182.3 inches long. That’s 7.9 inches longer than the Audi R8, which tucked a V-10 into its engine bay. It’s 3.8 inches longer than the Acura NSX, and 2.6 inches longer than the Ferrari 296 GTB. And most of that extravagant length is concentrated at the rear of the cabin. The C8 is radically cabin-forward, and from a three-quarter view, front or rear, it can look like the front third of the car is being swallowed up by the 8/7 scale version itself. Or as if it was in the process of telescoping, like Rinspeed Presto. The Corvette looks fantastic in profile and off, but not as neat, visually, as it might otherwise have about 20 inches separating the engine bay from the rear bumper. There’s no way to disguise the Corvette’s bulky trunk.
But it’s that tiny stretch of engine bay that turns the C8 from a flashy toy into a real everyday car. When you start looking at Corvettes with 150,000 miles, it’s not because they get huge fuel economy or have Barcalounger seats. It’s because of the luggage. It’s easy to take off on a 600-mile journey when you don’t have to think about what to bring. And removing practical barriers to road travel means racking up more miles, which should be the end goal for a car that treats driving as a hedonism rather than a chore. And for this incredible flexibility, we thank… the roof.
Early in the C8’s planning, Chevy’s focus group confirmed that the shift to a mid-engine layout would not change customer expectations that all Vettes were convertibles—as the coupe got a removable roof panel. And if the roof comes off, you need a place to store it in the car. As such, the C8’s rear trunk isn’t designed around your trunk or golf clubs (though it can accommodate two sets) or mulch pockets you might put in to flex at Home Depot. It’s designed to hold the roof, and this thing is not a T-top. The panels are large. So the C8’s total cargo capacity is 13 cubic feet, which is comparable to one of those rooftop cargo bags you might see in an SUV.
As a result, when I picked up the 2022 Corvette on an overnight trip to the mountains of North Carolina, I had plenty of room for the massive detritus that winter demanded — not cramming every air bag in the cabin with rolled-up jackets and individual socks, not sliding the seats forward with inconvenient to create a few cubic centimeters of cargo space, as I had done on the R8. Just walk in and go, both bars filled to the brim but the interior is immaculate.
And that capacity makes use of what is otherwise a fantastic year-round travel car, a grand tourer in a track-rat outfit. When I drove a heavily camouflaged pre-production C8 at GM’s Milford Proving Grounds in 2019, chief engineer Tadge Juechter said, “It has 911 performance along with the best attributes of the Boxster and Cayman. And some Lexus enhancements were included, which might surprise people.” While the Corvette can execute a brutal clutch-drop launch control and hit 60 mph in 2.8 seconds, it can also soften on the highway—muffled active exhaust, pliable magnetic ride controls, smooth transmission from gear to gear. With winter tires, you can blast snow-covered mountain roads without any difficulty. And an optional front end lift system helps the C8 rock through steep trails or speed bumps without grinding. The Corvette is no ordinary car, but it can imitate its identity.
Not everyone is satisfied with the Corvette’s compromise between aesthetics and utility. I have a friend who bought the last two Z06s, the C6 and C7, but don’t know if he’ll be back for a third. “The new Corvette just looks weird from some angles,” he said. “The latter looks a lot better to me.” And I know what he means, but he’s also not one of the people to take advantage of the Corvette’s capacity (the C7 has even more cargo space). When I asked how many miles on his C7 Z06, now four years old, he replied, “3000.” I got a long way to that figure in one weekend with the C8.
Back when I visited Milford, Juechter said, “There are a million decisions on the way to building a new car.” Going with a removable roof—and hence a large trunk—is one of them. And they did it right.
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