Marc UrbanoCar and driver
Read all we know about the mid-engined Corvette C8 here.
Below the conversation is the constant low-frequency pulse of a small Chevrolet block going up and down through its rev range. It is interrupted frequently but briefly by passages of the Tremec dual-clutch eight-speed transmission, accelerated by the reduction of the engine spark, on which it is bolted. And now, finally, the source of this thrum – a fifth-generation 6.2-liter V-8 named, of course, LT2 – comes from behind our heads.
We drive in Corvette Stingray mid-engine development mules on rural Michigan roads. The three cars in this convoy represent the full range of chassis options for the Stingray. There is a basic car FE1; an FE3 integrating the Z51 performance group with passive dampers and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires; and a high-end FE4, Stingray, combining the Z51 package with adaptive magnetorheological dampers. Similar to the previous C7, the C8's Z51 adds a limited electronic slip differential, larger brake discs and brake calipers (iron) and different gear ratios. But now, every C8 Corvette is equipped with an engine equipped with a dry sump.
Under the impetus of chief engineer Tadge Juechter and vehicle performance manager Alex MacDonald, the C8s are officially here to undergo the latest adjustments to differentiate management efforts in Tour driving modes. , Sport and Track. Unofficially, the engineers and, to some extent, the cars are here to share the history of the Corvette with central engine, the technical details and the opportunity to participate in the first series Corvette to place his engine behind the driver and the passenger. That we are the first driver not used by GM to get in the car, well, it's just sauce.
But it is certainly a difficult environment to draw impressions. The cars always carry a camouflage – both inside and out – and we balance the interview issues, the note taking and a voice recorder at the same time. Plus, the risk of drawing conclusions from what we know that a mid-engine car should do well – become prey to the placebo effect – is real.
However, during the first rotation of its new two-spoke steering wheel, the C8 displays a lightness and a will to turn that is common only for cars whose mass is centralized behind the passengers. There is a speed, a precision that appears only in this presentation; the wheel is turned and the car pivots immediately and directly into the corner. If the C7 was a turkey in the air, capable but inflated, then the C8 is a hawk – quite deliberate and destined for the mission.
A real automatic. finally
MacDonald releases a battery of mounted reports, noting that the new eight-speed Tremec dual-clutch gearbox offers everything the engineers had hoped for in a DCT, namely rotational speed and response time. More importantly, there is no observable reduction in acceleration between shifts, and MacDonald says that they are fast enough to be invisible to a data logger at 100 hertz.
In addition, each stroke of the paddles is only enslaved to a muted sound of the escapement during the passage of the next report. This is a quantum leap compared to the old eight-speed automatic gearbox equipped with a torque converter, which can now be removed in the museum where it belongs. It demonstrates the effectiveness of the DCT by striking the left palette three times successively, triggering three bold demotions.
Perhaps the most apparent dynamic change from the passenger seat is the ability of the C8 to turn off the power while turning. Leaving the narrow limits of the next 90-degree intersection, MacDonald boldly hammers the throttle. It's a move that would have pushed the C7 – any C7 – against the ruthlessness of physics, where the car has no choice but to spin its tires or intervene with stability control. .
Instead, with more weight of the C8 compared to the drive axle, we were launched effortlessly and unsurprisingly towards the front and around the bend. We went to second gear before the C7 could have been shaken. The stability of the new Corvette at the throttle is as clear from the passenger seat as the slower and more predictable rotation of the C7 has been since the driver's seat.
You'd better have fast hands
And that's the thing no one is saying yet: the point of which no Corvette engineer, or even a Chevrolet representative, speaks. A mid-engine Corvette is probably a more difficult Corvette to drive. Moving the mass in the middle means that the need for faster hands is real and that catching a less stable car requires faster reactions. This is the double-edged sword of physics, the potential burden of a more agile Corvette.
But it will probably not be. The reality is that the Corvette team is filled with competent and dedicated engineers, armed with the enormous technological power of the General. They will undoubtedly adjust the C8's performance traction management system to get the most out of the grip and balance of its new athletic chassis. They will make sure to save the enthusiastic donkeys of thousands of Americans while sparing YouTube viewers the clutter of millions of derogatory comments. The C8, in a different and better way than the previous C7, will probably be a remarkable car. At least, this seems to be the case of the passenger