Mid-Engine 2020 Corvette Basics: What You Need to Know

Prepare to be bombarded with facts, trivia, and minutiae covering every aspect of the long-awaited mid-engine Corvette in the weeks leading up to its on-sale date. For now, here’s a concise distillation of the most basic information you need to get the conversation going at your local cars ‘n’ caffeine gathering.

Engine

The base Stingray’s 6.2-liter V-8 engine might be the least interesting part of the new C8, yet it has been significantly revised in morphing from LT1 to LT2 nomenclature.

Myriad little refinements contribute to the 40-hp/10-lb-ft jump in output to 495 hp at 6,450 rpm and 470 lb-ft at 5,150 rpm (with performance exhaust—standard exhaust output has yet to be announced). A big one is the camshaft. Another biggie: All variants now get dry-sump lubrication, featuring three suction pumps and a more compact remote reservoir. The system is said to be capable of providing full-pressure lubrication under sustained lateral cornering loads of greater than 1 g.

The cylinder deactivation system is still of the Active Fuel Management V-8-4 style, not the Dynamic Skip Fire system that deactivates any cylinder at will on GM trucks.

As yet there is no confirmation of the pressurized DOHC engine options that have been predicted for higher-powered future variants.

Transmission

Everyone predicted the C8 would get a Tremec TR-9070 seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, but in fact it will get a completely bespoke eight-speed twin-clutch developed in conjunction with Tremec. (Note that Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter asserts it is not just a Ford Shelby GT500 gearset in a Chevy housing.)

No three-pedal manual or torque-converter transmission is planned. Full details of this M1L transmission haven’t been disclosed, but we know the top three gear ratios are overdrive, and first gear is primarily for launch. Most of the great handling circuits will use second through sixth. It is capable of shifting directly between any two gears as necessary—say, eighth to third when nailing the gas for a pass. The transmission is tuned to provide a creep mode when lifting off the brake from a stop.

Suspension

Three suspension options will again be offered on the Stingray: the base FE1, FE3, and FE4 for Z51 models (the latter with magnetorheological damping). These fourth-gen MR shocks offer greater bandwidth and react much faster.

In order to take full advantage of this newfound quickness, wheel-position accelerometers are located on the knuckles where there’s little or no lost motion; as such, they’re four times faster than previous setups at reporting wheel motion.

FE1 tuning is slightly more aggressive than the base C7 Stingray setup. It’s close to the FE4 Tour setting, though spring rates are slightly higher on the Z51. FE3 tuning is slightly sportier than the FE4 Sport setting—close to the factory Z mode setting (a high-performance street setting that can be accessed via a single button on the steering wheel).

Power steering is electric, and there’s no active rear steering. The new suspension is purely coil-over shock units, which will therefore put all those leaf-to-coil-over conversion peddlers out of business.

Brakes

Brembo brakes use four-piston front and rear calipers and eliminate the drum-in-hat parking brake in favor of lighter secondary rear calipers that set and release automatically when shifting in or out of park. Base JL9 front brake rotors are similar in size to today’s (12.6-inch) rotors, while the rears are slightly larger (13.6 inches up from 13.3). The Z51’s J55 brake setup gets larger rotors all around (13.3 inch front, 13.8 inch rear). Carbon-ceramic brakes are not offered on the Stingray.

A big braking challenge that was not related to the amidships powertrain placement: regulation to remove copper from the brake pads, which had accounted for 20 percent of the material. (It’s out, but only the pad suppliers know exactly what replaced it.)

Wheels and Tires

All Stingrays will ride on Michelin run-flat tires sized 245/35ZR19 front and 305/30ZR20 rear. They’ll be wrapped around spun-cast aluminum wheels that are strengthened to cope with America’s worsening roads. Base cars get Pilot Sport All Seasons; Z51s get Pilot Sport 4S tires that we’re told function quite well in the wet. Winter tire fitments will be available. Pilot Sport Cup tires are available now in these sizes, but the development team cautions track rats that the extensive chassis-control electronics are optimized for the stock tires, so caveat emptor.

Launch Control

There’s no special button, and none is really needed because the mid-engine Corvette is an inherently strong launcher. All you have to do is engage Track mode, turn traction control off, step on the brake, floor the accelerator, and lift off the brake. And an improved Performance Data Recorder will now record all such launch and lap data (and presumably Russian dash-cam-style wreck footage) automatically and continuously. It saves the video and time/speed/distance info to a 128 GB card that writes over itself after 1,000 minutes.

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