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2020 Corvette Stingray: First-ever mid-engine for the line aims to keep it fast and affordable

What's new about the 2020 Corvette Stingray? Everything! The first-ever production mid-engine for the line features "supercar-level craftsmanship" and is also the fastest, most powerful entry Corvette ever -- 0 to 60 mph in under 3 sec. Purists may freak at the engine placement, but the pop-top car's developers say the traditional front-engine vehicle had reached its limits of performance. As for the design's heavy emphasis on angular lines, that could be a turnoff for long-time Corvette fans too. But the price is right, and GM says that is a big bonus.

"In terms of comfort and fun, it still looks and feels like a Corvette, but drives better than any vehicle in Corvette history," said GM President Mark Reuss.

Also designated the C8, The 495-hp car's exterior has a bold, futuristic design with mid-engine exotic proportions, but the car's designers say it is still unmistakably Corvette. (To us, it looks like parts of the front and the back are, at least.) It is lean and muscular, with an athletic sculptural shape that, like taking selfies these days, is all about the angles.

The new location of the LT2 engine is truly the focal point for the car's design. It's the heart of this Next Generation Corvette. The engine sits like "a jewel in a showcase," visible through a lightweight, 3.2-mm-thick glass panel on the rear hatch that, in a real designer touch, mimics the shape of the brand logo. The panel features a cantilevered trailing edge to evacuate heat from the engine compartment. (At the car's unveiling last Thursday night, all the Corvette speakers loved using that word "jewel." Note, the driver can see through the rear window -- a high-mounted camera on the rear exterior can also project the view onto the rearview mirror.)

The added attention to detail, especially for the rear dual-purpose window and the engine you can see inside, required optimizing the appearance and design of every wire, tube, bolt, and fastener.

VIDEO: 2020 Corvette -- Mid-Engine Transformation.

Corvette says the new mid-engine layout gives the 2020 Stingray:

  • Better weight distribution, with the rear weight bias enhancing performance in a straight line and on the track.
  • Better responsiveness and sense of control due to driver positioning closer to the front axle, almost on top of the front wheels.
  • The fastest 0-60 time of any entry Corvette ever -- under 3 sec when equipped with Z51 Performance Package.
  • A race car-like view of the road due to lower positioning of the hood, instrument panel, and steering wheel. Excellent forward sightlines throughout the vehicle for both driver and passenger.
  • Dual trunks for a total of 12.6 cubic ft of cargo volume, ideal for short-trip luggage and a set of golf clubs (the front storage is pretty deep but not very wide). When you pop the top, it goes in the back trunk, but there is little room to spare with the top stowed.

True to its aeronautical and racing roots, the 2020 Stingray's canopy-forward stance was inspired by F22s, F35s, and other modern fighter jets and Formula One racing. Other classic Corvette signatures adapted to the Stingray include a distinctive face, a classic horizontal crease, aggressive front fenders, and familiar positioning of the dual-element headlamps.

Some additional design touchpoints include:

  • Low-profile headlamps designed around all-new projectors.
  • Completely hidden door, hood, and hatch releases that do not disrupt the sculpted design.
  • Large side air intakes for engine cooling and aerodynamic performance.
  • A-pillar shape that communicates speed and assists in visibility.
  • Large rear hatch that showcases the engine with seven air vents.
  • Quad exhaust tips located on the vehicle's outboard ends.
  • Dual-element LED taillamps with animated turn signals.

Corvette's structure is built around its backbone: the center tunnel. This enables a light, stiff structure to serve as the foundation for the suspension system to perform in an optimized manner. The car has a solid, connected-to-the-road feel with minimal vibrations at high speeds or on long road trips.

"Our mission was to develop a new type of sports car, combining the successful attributes of Corvette with the performance and driving experience of mid-engine supercars," said Tadge Juechter, Corvette executive chief engineer.

Chevrolet says the tunnel-dominant approach offers many advantages, including:

  • Improved torsional rigidity with a solid, connected feel on both the road and track.
  • Outstanding ingress/egress for a mid-engine vehicle. Unlike some competitors, there's no need for oversized rocker panels to bear structural and load weights, making it easier to enter and exit the vehicle.
  • Excellent stability due to a low center of gravity and outstanding handling.
  • Preservation of Corvette's standard removable roof panel, which can easily be stored in the rear trunk.
  • A front storage compartment that can fit an airline-spec carry-on and a laptop bag.
  • Availability in both left- and right-hand-drive variants -- a first for Corvette.
  • Smart packaging with improved cabin comfort, including an additional inch of rearward seat travel and almost double the reclining angle.

The all-new Corvette Stingray is built with a smart mixed-materials strategy, enabling key features such as:

  • A strong, stiff, and lightweight main structure of six high-pressure diecast aluminum parts, also known as the Bedford Six, which are manufactured at GM Powertrain in Bedford, IN. These minimize the number of joints within the vehicle, making a stiffer structure that aids in handling and track cornering.
  • Industry-first carbon fiber curved rear bumper beam for weight reduction.
  • Front and rear trunk tubs and dashboard molded from ultra-lightweight "float" derived from fiberglass and a proprietary resin. The material is so light that it can actually float in water. It works with other fiberglass and carbon fiber variants to lower mass and reduce noise and vibration.

The 2020 Stingray's heart is Chevy's next-generation 6.2L Small Block V-8 LT2 engine, the only naturally aspirated V-8 in the segment. It will produce 495 hp (369 kW) and 470 lb-ft (637 Nm) of torque when equipped with performance exhaust -- the most horsepower and torque for any entry Corvette.

"Though now placed behind the driver, the LT2 gives the same visceral experience we all expect from Corvette," said Jordan Lee, GM's global chief engineer of Small Block engines. "The LT2 has been designed to deliver excellent low-end torque and high-end power to give thrilling pedal response at any RPM."

The powertrain's low position enables a low center of gravity for optimal handling. Perhaps the biggest update is found in the lubrication and ventilation system. For the first time ever, the base Stingray will use an engine-mounted dry sump oil system and three scavenge pumps for improved track performance.

During serious track driving, oil volume remains high to avoid diminished performance. The new Stingray's lateral capability is greatly improved, so the LT2's dry sump lubrication system had to be redesigned to provide exceptional engine performance, even at lateral acceleration levels exceeding 1G in all directions.

The next-generation LT2 is paired with Chevrolet's first eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, which provides lightning-fast shifts and excellent power transfer. This transmission is uniquely designed with TREMEC to provide the best of both worlds: the spirited, direct connected feeling of a manual and the premium driving comfort of an automatic. The double-paddle de-clutch feature even allows the driver to disconnect the clutch by holding both paddles for more manual control.

The new Small Block V-8 has a torque curve optimized to take advantage of the bespoke DCT's lightning-fast shifts. Engineers set the DCT up with a very low first gear to leverage the additional traction to get the car off the line quickly, and its close-ratio gears 2 through 6 keep the engine near the power peak on track. Tall seventh and eighth gears make for easy long-distance cruising with low mechanical stress and excellent fuel economy.

VIDEO: Track testing the new 2020 Corvette.

The DCT is mated to a new Electronic Transmission Range Selector. With this electric shifter there's no mechanical interface between the shift lever and the transmission. The Corvette's electric shifter incorporates two pull toggles for Reverse and Drive and push buttons for Park, Neutral, and Low/Manual. The shifter has been designed to be more attractive and compact than a standard shifter.

Driver mode choices have been expanded from four to six, allowing drivers to tweak the feel of their Corvettes to their personal preference. The familiar Weather, Tour, Sport, and Track modes remain, and there are two new modes:

  • MyMode, a configurable setting for preferred driving style that can remain between key cycles.
  • Z mode, named after the famed Z06, ZR1, and Z51 Corvette performance packages, is activated through a "Z" button on the steering wheel. This is a single-use mode that takes MyMode configurations one step further, allowing drivers to adjust the engine and transmission as well.

The new Stingray features coil over dampers that create entirely new ride and handling characteristics. The mid-engine architecture allows for a short, straight, and stiff steering system, coupled with an updated electronic steering system, making the driver's chassis input instantaneous.

The new seating position places the car's center of gravity close to the driver's inside hip, so the car literally turns around the driver. It completely changes the perception of vehicle handling and responsiveness.

Other ride and handling upgrades include:

  • Steering ratio improved from 16.25:1 to 15.7:1.
  • New eBoost brakes that are more precise and tunable.
  • The first sports car application of Michelin's all-season performance tire that can corner at nearly 1G.
  • Front suspension lift (one of our favorite features!) that raises ground clearance by approximately 40 mm (1.57 in.) at the front bumper in 2.8 sec, protecting against bumps, potholes, steep driveways, and other road disturbances. It can operate at speeds up to 24 mph and be programmed to work automatically through GPS to remember up to 1,000 locations.
  • Launch control aided by the rear weight distribution, enabling the new Stingray to get off the line quicker than any Corvette in history.

The interior features:

  • A cockpit that has not only migrated forward by 16.5 in., but envelops the driver, conveying the high-performance and aeronautic theme.
  • Vertical climate controls and ultra-thin vents minimize the height of the instrument panel, creating a low, spacious interior.
  • A new, squared-off, two-spoke, small-diameter steering wheel that enables an unobscured view of the 12-in. reconfigurable cluster display.
  • The choice of either real aluminum or real carbon fiber for console and door trim plates.

One thing the new Corvette has a lot of is personalization options:

  • 12 exterior colors. Nine familiar: Torch Red, Arctic White, Black, Blade Silver Metallic, Shadow Gray, Ceramic Matrix Gray, Long Beach Red, Elkhart Lake Blue, and Sebring Orange. Three new: Rapid Blue, Zeus Bronze, and Accelerate Yellow.
  • Six interior color themes: Jet Black, Sky Cool Gray, Adrenaline Red, Natural/Natural Dipped, Two-Tone Blue, and Morello Red.
  • Six seat belt colors: Black, Blue, Natural, Torch Red, Yellow, and Orange.
  • Two optional stitch packages: Yellow and Red. Standard black interiors have Sky Cool Gray stitching.

Three seat options:

  • GT1, a sporty style that features Mulan leather trim, optional two-way lumbar support and wing adjustment.
  • GT2, a first for Corvette, these seats have a racing-inspired look with comfort for long trips courtesy of dual-density foam. They include carbon fiber trim, a Napa leather insert, Mulan leather bolsters, a jet black-painted seat back, two-way lumbar support and wing adjustment, plus heating and ventilation.
  • Competition Sport, designed for the serious track-focused driver. These seats include aggressive bolsters, full Napa seating surfaces and carbon fiber trim on the headrest, heating and ventilation, along with an all-new durable performance textile inspired by Kevlar vests.

Some basic dimensions:

  • Wheelbase: 107.2 in.
  • Overall length: 182.3 in.
  • Overall width 76.1 in.
  • Overall height 48.6in.

The optional Z51 Performance Package introduces a host of new technology to the 2020 Stingray:

  • Performance suspension with manually adjustable threaded spring seats.
  • Larger brake rotors with Z51 logo on calipers.
  • Enhanced cooling.
  • Specific axle ratio.
  • Front brake cooling inlets.
  • Performance exhaust.
  • An electronic limited slip differential integrated into the transaxle that modulates torque between the rear tires, enabling incredible vehicle stability.
  • A front splitter and open two-piece rear spoiler that add up to a combined 400 lb of downforce while improving grip when cornering.
  • Available Magnetic Ride Control 4.0, which reads the road better, providing more precise data through suspension-mounted accelerometers. Its improved electronics respond faster and more smoothly to driver inputs and contribute to class-leading ride quality.
  • Available Performance Traction Management.

The entry 2020 Stingray will start under $60,000. This was big news at the car reveal! Additional pricing and packaging information will be shared at a later date.

The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray goes into production at GM's Bowling Green Assembly in Kentucky in late 2019. General Motors announced back in April that it was adding a second shift and more than 400 hourly jobs at the plant to support production of the Next Generation Corvette. The addition of the second shift increases the plant's workforce to more than 1,300.

Source: Chevrolet

Published July 2019

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