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What the Mid-Engine Corvette Must Learn from the C7 Corvette Stingray

© Motor Trend Staff
2015-Chevrolet-Corvette-Stingray-Z51-front-three-quarters-051.jpg


Chevrolet is finally building the Corvette it's always wanted to build: one with a rear engine. Although all the hard engineering work is surely done by now considering the 2020 Corvette makes its debut on July 18, Chevy hopefully learned some lessons from the previous-generation C7 Corvette Stingray. I spent 15 months and 25,000 miles with our old long-termChevy Corvette Z51, and here are some things I think the new mid-engine Corvette must do as well as the final front-engine Corvette—and some areas where it can do better.

What the C8 needs to do as well as (or better than) the C7:


Performance

This is an obvious one, but the C7 Corvette was arguably the pinnacle of Corvette performance. Ignoring the overpowered and under-chassised 650-hp Corvette Z06 and 755-hp Corvette ZR1, Chevrolet needs its new car to capture the performance balance it struck in the Corvette Grand Sport. The Grand Sport, essentially a Stingray Z51 with a 6.2-liter naturally aspirated V-8 and the Z06's handling package, was the sweet spot in the C7 lineup. Sure, it "only" had 460 hp, but each and every one of those horses was usable. And thanks to the new handling hardware, the Grand Sport was the type of car that easily became one with its driver, rotating around your hips as you dance from corner to corner. If the C8's jumping-off point was the C7 Grand Sport, we should be in for a treat, thanks to the better balance provided by a mid-mounted engine.


 

The "everyday" sports car

The only car to ever truly challenge the Porsche 911's claim as the everyday sports car has been the Corvette. An everyday sports car should have a comfortable ride, a practical cabin, decent fuel economy to get you through the week, and performance that sets your hair on fire on the weekend. The C7 Corvette came pretty close. It rode wonderfully (even without the optional magnetic-ride suspension), achieved a 19-mpg combined EPA rating (our long-termer netted an observed 17.7 mpg after 25,000 miles of hard driving), and, thanks to its massive hatchback was super practical, too. It'll be harder to be quite as practical with the engine behind the cabin, but as the new McLaren GT has proven, there are clever ways to maximize cargo capacity in a mid-engine sports car.

Room for Improvement:


The Experience


Our two biggest issues with our long-term C7 Corvette went hand in hand: quality and dealer experience. On the former front, our Corvette, although mechanically reliable, had quite a few quality issues. The MyLink display failed, the targa top creaked and rattled, the door creaked when opening and closing, and the steering wheel squeaked when you turned. If those quality issues are unacceptable on a $65,000 car, they'll certainly be unacceptable on a car that likely starts at around $70,000.


Furthermore, the quality issues we experienced highlighted how Chevrolet the dealerships we visited were (generally) unprepared to deal with Corvette customers. Although our experience with four dealerships in 2015 might not represent the reality today, what we encountered was typically a single overworked Corvette technician and long waits until our Corvette was back in action. Adding insult to injury, although we were given dealer loaners when our Corvette was in the shop, they were all low-end Chevrolets: Sparks, Sonics, and Cruzes. Corvette customers are among GM's most valuable, and the experience of putting them in economy models while their very expensive cars are being fixed conveys the opposite. Given the C8 Corvette's expected price increase, a dealer experience similar to ours could quickly convince Corvette owners to jump ship for the likes of Porsche, Mercedes-AMG, or BMW. In words that GM will understand, the Corvette is the Cadillac of the Chevrolet lineup—treat it like one.





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