The 2021 Chevrolet Corvette C8 Stingray is here to draw in a younger, more diverse audience.
It’s a running joke: picture a Corvette owner, and you’re probably picturing an older white man going through his midlife crisis. And that’s all fine and dandy — but Chevrolet wants to grow. It wants to break the associations with older folks and instead appeal to younger drivers and even to women.
Of course, the Corvette has always appealed to a large audience. As I was heading on my trip, my mom expressed her jealousy: the Corvette Stingray was her dream car as a child. She’d passed that love onto me.
But the low price tag — in comparison to other supercars, of course — and the totally revolutionized styling and technology are here to totally transform what it means to be a Corvette.
What Does Mid-Engined Mean?
The C8 era of the Corvette made headlines when it was confirmed that it would be mid-engined.
It is what it sounds like: the Corvette C8 has its engine in the middle of the chassis, not in the front or rear. So, when you look into the pane of glass behind your driver’s seat, you’ll see the engine sitting right behind you. But in the very rear, there’s still (a little bit of) trunk space.
The whole point of a mid-engined car is the fact that it creates a smoother ride because weight distribution is much more even. Think about it: if you have a heavy engine weighing down the front of your car, you’ll have a lot of balance issues. It’s especially important for high performance cars that are set low to the ground — the last thing you want is for your expensive car to hit a bump, jostle around, and scrape on the ground.
It also improves traction and handling, especially when you’re on the race track. As I learned at the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School, you can really throw the Corvette into a corner and not have to worry about it spinning… at least, not as much. One other person at the school spun the car, but it wasn’t the kind of uncontrolled spin you’d have with all the weight of your vehicle settled in the front or the rear.
Related: Hello Cadillac, My Love: Why This Supercharged Luxury Sedan Captures My Heart, On the Road and On the Track
Supercar Looks On An SUV Budget
Most people in this world will never have a chance to own a Ferrari or a Lamborghini, since those vehicles are considered to be the absolute pinnacle of automotive design and, as such, come with a very hefty price tag. But what if you could get those same stunning good looks at a price you’d pay for a top-of-the-line SUV?
I’ll delve into pricing more below, but you should know that the base-model Corvette C8 costs $60,000 and, outfitted with all the bells and whistles, can just skim $80,000. Those aren’t bad prices for the kind of power and style you’ll be receiving in exchange.
Just take one look at the Corvette in profile. Its door panels are carved and contoured with care, and decked out in the Red Mist paint I was driving, it looked a little bit like a Ferrari just waiting for me to take a spin. The ‘Vette has dramatic vents that are as functional as they are attractive, and its wide front grille has the kind of cheeky smile you’d expect from someone about to get you in a bit of trouble. And that’s only part of its appeal.
Sporty Technology Abounds
The entire cockpit is designed to curve around the driver and help her achieve her goals. Do you want to drive fast? Turn the rotary knob and enter ‘sport’ mode, at which point your dashboard and head-up displays will change to show you the kind of information you need to know. In sport mode, you’ll see gear shift options that’ll remind you when to hit your paddle shifters (if you want to use them), plus your elapsed track time or speed and the G-forces you’re sustaining. Swap to touring mode, and it’s a much neater display, since you’re likely only worried about your speed and comfort.
Swapping modes also brings up a display on your infotainment screen that lets you know what your handling should feel like via suspension stiffness, shift speed, and engine noise, among other things. So, when you’re ripping around the race track, you’ll sound loud and mean, and your car will be responsive. Hit the highway for the morning commute, and the suspension is softer in order to better absorb bumps, and your engine will sound much more subdued.
There are also plenty of other technologies to improve your drive, like:
- A custom drive mode that allows you to select the kind of drive you’d like
- A weather mode for rainy or snowy climates
- A manual mode that lets you optimize your shift points with the paddle shifters on the steering wheel
- A front camera to help you see obstacles in front of your when you’re parking
- A front-end suspension lift option that will help lift the nose of your car to avoid potholes
- A rearview camera, which you definitely need since vision is limited due to the mid-body engine
A Smooth Performance Drive
Some performance cars like to remind you of their power by being difficult. They can be temperamental and edgy, feeling more like you’re wrangling a bucking bull than driving a car. The Corvette is not one of those performance cars. The only thing you’ll have to be careful of is the speed: the acceleration is so smooth that you don’t even feel it, which means the speedometer can slip past the limit if you aren’t careful.
While there are perceptible differences between the cozy touring mode and the stiffer sport mode, you’re still going to enjoy a quiet ride that feels as smooth as spreading warm butter on hot bread. You’ll just feel more capable of taking that upcoming turn at a higher speed.
And, as I mentioned before, the mid-engined body style means that the weight of this car is very evenly distributed. There’s no drastic weight change when you brake or accelerate, since most of those massive weight changes are due to a heavy engine weighing down one end of the vehicle.
What We Loved
- Valet mode, so no one can drive your car above a certain speed limit
- Hidden door handle buttons
- Performance data recorder with both audio and video
- Gorgeous 14-speaker sound system
- Lush suede and leather seats
- Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Different drive modes to cater to what you’re feeling that day
- A ride so smooth you’ll forget to check your speedometer
- Storage in both the front and the rear
Who Is This Car For?
- Single women who love to have fun and turn heads
- Couples who don’t mind splitting a performance vehicle — but be warned, this car isn’t designed for passenger comfort
- Women interested in hitting the track and understanding performance driving
- Moms who have waved goodbye to the children
- Anyone who wants a supercar but doesn’t love supercar prices
What Does It Cost?
The Corvette Stingray has three different trims and two styles. You can either have a convertible or a hard-top, and you can choose between 1LT, 2LT, and 3LT trims. I drove the hard-top 3LT. Do note, though, that the hard-top does lift off if you want.
Here are the differences between the different trims:
- 1LT: Coupe body, rear-wheel drive, 8-speed transmission, Brembo brakes, Corvette suspension, LED headlights, all-season performance tires, rearview camera, rear parking sensors, 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, satellite radio, two USB ports, WiFi hotspot. $59,995
- 2LT: Add heated/ventilated seats, wireless charging, 14-speaker Bose sound system, navigation, heated steering wheel, head-up display, performance data recorder, forward-facing camera, and additional safety features. $68,295
- 3LT: Add leather-wrapped upholstery package, bucket seats, Z51 performance options. $70,850
The vehicle we drove had a standard vehicle price of $70,850 with the following additions:
- Adjustable front bumper height, add $1,995
- Magnetic selective ride control, add $1,895
- Carbon fiber interior trim, add $1,500
- 19-inch five trident spoke wheels, add $1,495
- Red mist paint job, add $995
- Engine appearance package, add $995
- Suede steering wheel, add $595
- Chrome exterior badging: add $100
- Destination charge: $1,095
- Total cost of the vehicle we drove: $81,515
Specs to Know
- 6.2-liter V8 engine
- 490 horsepower, 465 lb-ft torque
- 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission
- 15 mpg city / 27 mpg highway / 19 mpg combined
- Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
- Wireless charging
- Remote start and keyless open
- Heated and ventilated bucket seats
- Safety features: HD rear and front cameras, rear park assist, advanced theft deterrent, rear cross traffic alert, side blind zone alert
- 12-inch customizable driver display and head-up display that changes based on drive mode
- 8-inch color touchscreen
- Seats two, but this is not a car that considers the passenger. Like, at all.
What We Listened To
A classic car calls for a little bit of classic rock, don’t you think?