Road test review: Chevrolet Corvette Stingray 3LT

  • CHEVROLET CORVETTE STINGRAY 3LT
  • Basic price: $169,900 (Estimated RightCar Clean Car cost: $5175)
  • Powertrain and economy: 6.2 liter petrol V8, 369kW/637Nm, 8 speed automatic, RWD, 15.1L/100km combined economy, CO2 349g/km (source: RightCar)
  • Important statistics: Length 4630mm, width 1934mm, height 1234mm, wheelbase 2723mm, luggage capacity 370 liters (including frunk), 19-inch front wheels, 20-inch rear.
  • Security: Not tested.
  • We like: A supercar for sports car money, comfortable and easy to live in, sensational on winding roads.
  • We don’t like: America’s need for boot compromise looks a bit, no need for stripes…

The Chevrolet Corvette is not a legend, but now the legend has experienced the biggest shock in its production history, with its transition to a mid-engined layout accompanied by production in right-hand drive for the first time. Of course, the most important thing we can take in New Zealand from this is that we can get it here now!

OUTSIDE

Aside from the odd highlighter yellow, the Corvette C8 looks sensational.

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

Aside from the odd highlighter yellow, the Corvette C8 looks sensational.

Regardless of how you feel about the classic American metal piece moving to a powertrain layout more associated with a Euro-slick supercar, you have to admit the Corvette looks good.

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The fantastic-looking C7 is a tough act to follow (and I wouldn’t fully disagree with you if you want to argue it still looks better…), but the C8 has a serious presence, from the aggressive front end, complete with hints from both the C7′ vette and Lamborghini Aventador, to the wide, directional rear that lets you know it means business.

The C8 meets its ancestors, including the C5 (far left), the original C1 and the earlier C7.

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

The C8 meets its ancestors, including the C5 (far left), the original C1 and the earlier C7.

Okay, so there’s sincere criticism that the rear of the car is slightly elongated, but that’s a result of the Corvette really having to have a boot that would swallow a set of golf clubs. Yes, absolutely.

However, this is only the tiniest distraction from the overall fact that the C8 is a striking looking car and is genuinely attractive, even if the yellow and black stripes of our test car are not to my personal taste…

IN

The C8's interior is well built and very comfortable.  There isn't a very comfortable place to put your phone...

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

The C8’s interior is well built and very comfortable. There isn’t a very comfortable place to put your phone…

The inside of the Corvette C8 demonstrates the spectacular quality evolution that American cars have gone through in the last few decades, managing to be extremely high quality and extremely well made, something American manufacturers have often struggled with.

It’s a little narrower than you’d expect, however, a feeling exacerbated by the narrow, gripping sports seats and a wraparound cockpit-style design that makes you feel like you’re strapped into a fighter jet or one-seater race car, but creates something of a wall between the passenger and the car. driver.

Still, it’s roomy and fairly comfortable by Kiwi standards – but I’d wonder how a larger American man with a slightly more advanced age and larger waistline (i.e.; the average US Corvette buyer) than I would handle.

Corvette father Zora Arkus-Duntov always wanted a mid-engined Corvette.  However, the C1, instead is very beautiful.

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

Corvette father Zora Arkus-Duntov always wanted a mid-engined Corvette. However, the C1, instead is very beautiful.

The control layout is a mixed bag, with most being quite ergonomically sound, but there are a few things that are definitely more than functional – like the initially confusing row of buttons along the center console between driver and passenger. While it won’t take you long to figure them out (and there’s a reasonable order for them), you still often find your hands hovering uncertainly over them when you want to do something that lies somewhere in the middle, like adjust the seat temperature. heated.

Of course, being American also means one more thing – a truly deafening audio system. That doesn’t mean you need one, though, as the C8’s best sound system sits just above your left shoulder…

UNDER THE BONET

The LT2 V8 has a familiar roar, but comes from an unfamiliar place in the C8.

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

The LT2 V8 has a familiar roar, but comes from an unfamiliar place in the C8.

While the LT’s 6.2-liter V8 C8 is considered by GM to be a clean-sheet design, and hardly shares anything in common with the LS’s V8, we’re very used here to the speedy Commodores, it shares one thing – a very familiar engine note, which sounds very familiar. very strange from behind you after decades of hearing it coming from the front.

Of course, it also sounds pretty spectacular when it comes to its red line (which is taller than the LS), and punching the C8 forward with serious authority.

However, despite being strong, it doesn’t necessarily feel like a car that can reach 100 km/h in 3.3 seconds as GM claims. That’s until you’re completely off course and up a bit on the lap – then it gets pretty wild, punching you into the horizon like an Italian supercar looks like. The drive is incredible, unrelenting and absolutely thrilling.

Yes, the Corvette does get a boot, and it looks like it would fit a set of golf clubs too.  Definitely not when the removable roof panels are kept there...

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

Yes, the Corvette does get a boot, and it looks like it would fit a set of golf clubs too. Definitely not when the removable roof panels are kept there…

But the real magic GM has done with this is how relaxed, docile and downright friendly it is to just walk around town and not try to peel the skin off your face with the sheer force of acceleration. The C8 is a lot like the Porsche 911 to use, as it’s just as easy to show up in stores as it is to destroy lap times on track days.

Of course, that “everyday life” thing needs to be balanced against the fuel consumption involved in doing that, but while GM claims a pretty hefty 15.1L/100km average combined consumption for the C8, the reality is it’s actually less than that – it it’s easy to downgrade a Corvette to single figures on the open road, while around town it’s still pretty easy to log below the combined average too. Only when you is it right start maximizing the power of the V8 on the winding roads that climb above it.

ON THE ROAD

Everything about the Corvette's exterior tells you that it means business.  And the business was going very fast.

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

Everything about the Corvette’s exterior tells you that it means business. And the business was going very fast.

Despite its very sporty appearance that suggests an aggressive ride, the Corvette C8 is actually a very docile and comfortable cruiser. Instead of feeling like a super edgy supercar and getting fidgety and fragile on New Zealand’s rough roads, the Corvette feels much more reminiscent of something like a Ford Mustang, especially when the MagneRide damper system is in Comfort mode.

Drop into the sport and things get stronger, but still never to a gnawing degree, and the Corvette maintains a very civilized ride, even in maximum attack mode. And it never comes at the expense of handling, which is incredibly sharp and fits perfectly with the brutality of the engine.

During my early days on the C8, I was well aware of the fact that it was mid-engined and rear-wheel drive, and all the historic baggage that came with that combination. Sure, the Italian supercar maker – and Porsche with its rear-engined 911 – has overcome all the tail-happy drama that traditionally accompanies this layout, but will Chevrolet do it successfully on the first try? Or will the C8 become an alarmingly powered pendulum under heavy acceleration?

The aggressive side strokes include coolant intakes for the engine, but also cleverly hide the door handles.

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

The aggressive side strokes include coolant intakes for the engine, but also cleverly hide the door handles.

Turns out, yes, of course they did – the rear of the C8 behaved really well and was totally predictable under heavy throttle applications, again reminiscent of a Mustang with its fun, yet totally controllable rear end.

Steering is very accurate and precise, albeit a little muted, while the brakes are excellent and inspire confidence, and the C8 feels compact and very agile at speed.

But like all the best American performance cars I’ve ever driven, the key to the Corvette’s brilliance is the predictability I mentioned earlier – of course it has the power to easily rip the rear tires off the road at almost any speed through corners, but it telegraphs when it does. so beautifully and gently, and way ahead of time, that you’re always in control.

While the need to boot has made the C8 a little awkward on the back, it still looks fantastic.

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

While the need to boot has made the C8 a little awkward on the back, it still looks fantastic.

DECISION

The Corvette C8, frankly, is an absolutely brilliant device. It packs all the pleasant tame friendliness of a more traditional American V8 front-engine/rear-drive American pony car, but then adds searing performance that surpasses them, as well as a supercar-like presence for just a fraction of the price of anything similar-looking.

Now, $169,900 is a huge price tag, but when attached to something like the C8, it’s an absolute bargain. Lined up next to the BMW M3 and M4 (which are priced at $168,900 and $172,900 respectively), the Corvette matches them for fun, beating them for performance (both BMWs hit 100kph in 3.9 seconds) and completely crushing them in in terms of presence, drama and sheer wow factor.

In any case with a mid-range engine that offers comparable looks and performance, you should more than double the asking price. And it’s hard to argue that not cheap.

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