“Eager anticipation” doesn’t begin to describe the charged emotion we’ve felt since the mid-engined Corvette was announced earlier this year. With its incredible price point, double wishbones at both ends, eight-speed automatic, and an LT2 making 495 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, the car would’ve been stellar with the engine ahead of the driver. Now, with the lump relocated to the middle of the machine, we get to see just how fantastic this new package is.
Making it Look Easy
In the hands of a Travis Okluski, licensed club racer and editor-in-chief of Road & Track, the car is a weapon. Not an unfriendly, snap-oversteering sort of scalpel that punishes the eager amateur, but a very precise car with a hint of understeer to keep the greener drivers out of the grass. For something weighing 3,366 pounds dry, it changes direction exceptionally well; there’s a real balance there.
Taking the Corvette to the tight Thunderhill West was a bright idea. The mixture of hairpins and unsighted apexes keep the driver on their toes and reveals the felt girth of a car. As it is relatively narrow and technical, a larger car is at a disadvantage there.
Yet, the Corvette seems made for this environment. Without the characteristically long hood of its predecessors, this new Corvette is more easily placed. This is a real asset in fast, blind corners like Turn 4 (0:34), where knowing exactly where the front tire is, helps considerably.
The nose is accurate, and the car is responsive while reassuring. The mild understeer in the middle of the corner reins in someone from biting off more than they can chew. Its composure over the curbs is impressive, as is its ability to deploy all the power out of hairpins without any wheelspin.
Okluski admits to his inexperience at the tricky California track, so assume there’s still a good deal of performance left in this base-model package. His clean but conservative lap netted him a 1:22.8 around Thunderhill West, where a slick-shod TracKing TT01 racing car laps in the high 1:19s. For a fairly plush factory car to set these sorts of laps speaks to both the speed and the accessibility of Chevrolet’s bold new venture.
Farah’s Feverish Impressions
When Matt Farah takes the C8 for a spin, he has a hard time getting his opinions out between his regular giggling. With reported turn-in rotation, plenty of playful drifts, a front end that never quits, and “the best gearbox ever in a GM car,” there’s plenty to guffaw about.
All in all, the new ‘Vette looks like a weapon — and we can’t wait to get our hands on one.