Chevrolet Corvette — Supercar performance at an amazing price photo

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

It was the shortest week of 2020 — the week we lived with the new mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette. Time seemed to slip away as we created little windows of opportunity to get behind the wheel, take pictures, answer dozens of questions from onlookers, and give at least a half dozen rides. Since it showed up in 1953, the Corvette has been the number one aspired-to vehicle in America. No different for this reinterpretation of the all-American sports car.

A front-engine, rear-drive car since its inception, the 2020 Vette (and the 2021 model that is just now reaching showrooms) has jolted traditionalists by joining the world of mid-engine machines.The engineers at Chevrolet have done a marvelous job creating a stunning design that fits neatly into the Corvette mode, while endowing it with performance never seen before in an entry-level Corvette — and for a starting price under $60,000.

The mid-engine Vette is a good as we had hoped it would be, now competing with the best from Porsche, Ferrari and McLaren, but at many thousands of dollars less. With a mid-engine setup designers had to revolutionize the styling, and for the most part we think it was a job well done. Our biggest complaint is with the rear of the car, which we think is too busy, too confusing, and not as harmonious as it could and should have been.

Passengers sit further forward then in the outgoing Corvette with the big V-8 behind them and located under a hatchback lid that features a glass area so the engine can be viewed from the outside. There's a small trunk — it's be labeled a "frunk" — up front and a slightly bigger cargo area at the back, but they don't provide the storage room of the previous hatchback.

The 2020 Corvette boosts a 6.2-liter V-8 making 490 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque mated to an eight-speed automatic dual-clutch transmission — for the first time ever there's no manual transmission — and is available as either a coupe with a removable roof panel or a convertible with a retractable hard top. Zero-to-60 time has been measured at an astounding 2.9 seconds with the $5,000 Z51 performance package, which adds five more horsepower at 495, an electronic limited slip differential, a performance exhaust, larger Brembo brakes, and summer tires.

We don't shed any tears over the loss of the manual shifter. The new eight-speed shifts lightning fast and if you desire to row through the gears it can be manually accomplished using two large steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles.

Driving the Corvette is a true delight. Hit the gas and it delivers extreme, breathtaking power at any speed. Passing on a two-lane road is an exercise in restraint to keep from hitting triple digits on the speedometer. This Corvette is furious and fun. Handling and cornering are no less exhilarating, agile and confident, with superglue grip. When it came time to cruise, the ride is surprisingly serene and the cockpit is amazingly quiet.

Inside, designers did a masterful job creating a true cockpit feel. The center console, which features an eight-inch touchscreen angled toward the driver, establishes a clear definition between driver and passenger space. The console itself is slightly tilted toward the driver with some additional height created by a long series of elevated buttons running down its right side. Every knob, switch and button lays at the driver's fingertips. The driver sits behind a squared-off steering wheel and a 12-inch reconfigurable gauge display

The long series of center console buttons is daunting at first glance. They operate the climate control system, each clearly marked with driver temperature settings at the top and passenger settings at the bottom. In between are the usual air flow, heated seat controls, etc. We think this was a masterful stroke of genesis by designers. No need to delve into the infotainment screen to access climate settings. We found it took only a short drive to figure out the button order, and they can be operated with very little driver distraction.

There's a wide variety of standard and available features. Standard items on all Vettes except the base model, include a 14-speaker Bose audio system, heated and ventilated seats, a head-up display, and several interior color choices. You also get Chevrolet's Performance Data Recorder, a system that records video of your laps as well as info such as steering angle and g-force.

Moving the engine behind the seats has somewhat compromised useable storage space. This is even more so, in the case of the coupe, when stowing the removable top panel in its allotted niche in the trunk. Without the coupe's top panel cluttering things up, there is room for a couple of larger, soft-sided bags or even a set of golf clubs or two in the trunk. Up front, under the hood, Chevy designers carved out a place for a bag about the size of those stowed in a plane's overhead bin. Adding it all together, cargo storage is a modest 12.6 cubic feet.

There are three trim levels offered: 1LT, 2LT and 3LT starting at $59,995 including destination charge. The 2LT begins at $67,295, and the 3LT comes in at $71,945. To spend the least money and get a satisfying Corvette experience, we recommend adding the $5,000 Z51 package. Our loaded up top line 3LT test car came in at $82,925 including destination charge.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette with Z51 package


Base price: $59,995; as driven, $82,925
Engine: 6.2-liter V-8
Horsepower: 495 @ 6,450 rpm
Torque: 465 pound-feet @ 5,150 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: rear wheel
Wheelbase: 107.2 inches
Length: 182.3 inches
Curb weight: 3,535 pounds
Turning circle: 38.1 feet
Luggage capacity: 12.6 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 18.5 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 15 city, 27 highway, 19 combined
0-60: 2.9 seconds (manufacturer)
Also consider: Aston Martin Vantage, Porsche 911, Ford Shelby GT350

The Good
• Great bang for the buck
• Outstanding performance
• Stylish interior
• Impressive mid-engine layout

The Bad
• Manual transmission dropped

The Ugly
• Poor rear visibility