Chevrolet Corvette C8 Stingray Review: Answering Your Pre-Purchase Questions

(Photos: Norman Woo)

Writing about the new C8 Corvette at this point sure seems like an afterthought. What else can I possibly say that hasn’t already been covered in literally thousands of articles, most of them glowing with praise written during the past year? Fortunately, I was able to spend a week with the car. Let me try answering a few remaining questions you might still have:

Is the Corvette truly remarkable? For $60,000, it can’t be that good, can it? 

Yes, it really is exceptional. Not perfect, but competitive with cars costing more than double. Granted, our test car featured the 2LT equipment package as well as the Z51 performance package, along with a few other options, pushing the price tag to $78,265. Nevertheless, the C8 is a massive bargain. I recently spent some time in two $150K+ sports cars, and the Corvette can easily hang with both of them. 

Plus, unlike quite a few high-performance cars, the C8 Corvette is a surprisingly comfortable daily driver. Even without the optional Magnetic Ride Suspension—which, oddly enough, our test car didn’t have—the ride is never punishing. Keep it in tour mode, and you can cruise around all day without breaking a sweat. 

Ok, fair enough, but some reviews say the C8 has become too docile, losing the edge that Corvettes are known for. So…

Will driving a C8 make me wish for something more engaging?

It would seem silly to say that a car that can launch to 60 mph in under three seconds is docile, but the critics have a point. I can remember driving a C7 ZO6 in the rain a few years ago, and my nerves are still recovering from the experience. Even under optimal conditions, there was always a question of whether the rear end would come around when accelerating out of a corner—and that’s when being careful with the throttle. With the C8, you have to get ham-fisted with the throttle mid-corner to get it to consider stepping the rear out. 

Given all the weight in the middle and massively staggered tires (305 rear, 245 front), the C8 is super stable and predictable. I never noticed the understeer that some have complained about, but I didn’t get to drive it on a track. 

There is ample grip that is easy to exploit for public roads, and even novice drivers will feel comfortable going quite fast. Adrenaline junkies might crave something a bit more raw and visceral, but pick up the pace, and the C8 is plenty engaging. 

But what about the engine?

Behind the driver is the same old 6.2-liter small-block V8 that’s been around forever and can be found in various forms across the Chevy lineup. Isn’t it time for a new motor? 

Before my time with the Corvette, the thought of an outdated engine is something I was honestly concerned about. Not that 495 horsepower is anything to sneeze at, but on paper, the new one doesn’t look competitive. 

Get behind the wheel, however, and you’ll hardly be wishing for some turbos or other fancy tech to squeeze out more horsepower. To my ears, nothing sounds as good as a naturally aspirated V8, and this one resonates with the classic note of a proper V8. If anything, it sounds a bit subdued, considering the engine sits right behind you. Throttle response is also perfectly linear, which is perfect given the absence of all-wheel drive. 

The other key thing to keep in mind is that the engine is only one part of what determines performance. The C8 proves that the transmission is an equally important piece of the puzzle. I know, I know. There’s no manual available, which is a bummer, but the Tremec 8-speed dual-clutch box works brilliantly to put every single ounce of power to the rear wheels. 

It’s not all about power

Launch the car from a standstill, and the transmission will rifle two upshifts before hitting 60 mph. That C7 ZO6 I drove a few years ago could do 60 in first gear. This ultra-short gearing is like gaining several hundred extra horsepower, and with the engine in the middle, it can put the power down efficiently. 

The DCT is the secret to the surprising sub-3 second 0-60 time and is why the C8 will handily beat cars with more power off the line. You do start to notice that you don’t have 600+ ponies to play with at higher speeds, and it can absolutely handle more power, which is where the future ZO6 and ZR1 variants will come into play. 

What about the interior?

Is the interior better than the rental grade stuff found in previous models? 

Yes. Thank heavens the curse of the mediocre GM interior is no longer haunting the Corvette. Materials and craftsmanship are commensurate with the price point, and the design is refreshingly driver-oriented and straightforward. 

Some might quibble with the line of HVAC buttons that are almost like a barrier between driver and passenger, but it makes for a nice clean dashboard. The optional GT2 bucket seats do a superb job of balancing comfort with the level of bolstering you need in a car that can stick in the corners. 

If there is one nit I would pick in the new Corvette, it’s the fact that there isn’t a whole lot of space inside—even for a sports car. I’m all of 5’10,” and it felt rather cozy. Larger occupants will likely feel a bit cramped, which is odd given that the C8 isn’t exactly Miata sized. On the plus side, there is cargo space both in the back and the front, so running to the grocery store didn’t require carrying a gallon of milk in my lap on the way home. 

Any final thoughts on the C8 Corvette?

So, the big question then. “Should I place my order now so I can hope to get one by the end of next year?”

Unfortunately, I’m not in the financial position to make such a decision, but if I were, I’d give it some real thought. From a driver’s perspective, it’s an incredible value proposition. For about the same amount of money as a run-of-the-mill sports sedan, you could get a legitimate mid-engined sports car, instead. And unlike many all-out sports cars, this is one you can easily live with daily. 

I’m not sure I could handle all the attention the C8 invites—and it does attract attention. I can’t remember a single car that I’ve recently reviewed that has garnered so many turned heads. Perhaps it was the overly conspicuous torch red paint on our test car. Still, even in a more muted color, the C8 will have people asking you all day whether it’s any good, or even mistaking it for a McLaren or Ferrari or other exotic. If it’s the attention you crave, I’d put an order in quick before next year’s model is sold out.