Everyone has been taking a closer look at the 2020 Corvette, trying to find chinks in its armor and ways to improve upon its already-capable performance. Heck, even Corvette Racing is just figuring out how to get the all-new C8.R around the track in the fastest manner possible! Congratulations on your two in a row Corvette Racing! But I digress.
The C8 Corvette has become the darling of YouTubers the world over, and it has also brought in an extensive number of “clicks” for an unassuming ‘Tuber who goes by the title “Engineering Explained”. His real name is Jason, and he actually was an engineer, until he quit in 2014. Now, most folks (currently about 2.72 MILLION of them) know him as Engineering Explained.
On his YouTube channel, Jason uses his previous experience to bring out many facets of the autos that we hold so dear. In THIS video, he focuses on the “struggling to get enough out the door” 2020 Corvette and five of the supposed “flaws” that have been reported upon extensively in forums and comments sections around the globe.
There’s an old saying, “There’s nothing new under the sun”, and this video only serves to drive that fact home. Case in point— the Corvette (except for that short-sighted stint where Chevrolet felt that the best way to market its newest sports car was to limit its ownership to select VIPs) has always been a car for the everyman. Its formula is comprised of compromises that make it the best ALL-AROUND car for the masses.
Many folks have heightened the all-new, mid-engine Corvette with expectations that it whoops everything, everywhere, every-time- or at least they EXPECT it to do so. Anything that hinders the car from dutifully performing that task is deemed a “flaw.” Before the 2020 Corvette first appeared in a blimp hangar, we spoke with long-time Corvette friend, Andy Pilgrim about the difference that going to a mid-engine platform might have on the car’s performance. One item that has stuck with me was when he mentioned how the physics of a mid-engine car can make it more responsive, to a fault. Of course, GM’s engineers would work diligently to capitalize on the car’s responsiveness while containing the downsides. That is what Jason points out in this video.
Flaw #1: Brake By Wire
This one speaks, or is mostly spoken about, by folks who often make statements about road feel, feedback, or their love for the C4 and earlier Corvettes due to the visceral “inputs” the car offers while operating. The fewer things that come between their connection to what is happening at the wheels, the better. Electronics, with all their intended benefits, only serve to sever that direct link to the car and driver’s intimate communication. They don’t trust it.
In this video, Jason addresses all the dis-trust around electro-mechanical braking and assures the viewer that even in emergency situations, the braking is still subject to physics, and in the best-case scenario, can even be better.
Flaw #2: Longer Braking Distance
Numbers don’t lie. In this case, Jason accepts that Motor Trend’s testing of the C8’s braking distance from 60-0 mph was seven feet longer than that of their C7 test vehicle. At face value, when you consider that better braking was one of the benefits touted when talking about the recent engine’s migration, this one does seem to have some bite.
Jason addresses this, and much like a “You can’t handle the truth!” moment, explains how the brake’s clamping ability to terra firma is only one part of the equation. He explains that Chevrolet limited the maximum level of braking so that steering inputs don’t make the car twitchy. You know, in the name of safety and all. Their rationale must be sound, as we’re seeing many more videos of folks enjoying their C8s than a post-crash video with the explanation the car was unstable.
Flaw #3: Understeer
In much the same mindset, it isn’t too far a stretch to conclude that the corporation which requires you to “accept” the fact you shouldn’t play with the car’s infotainment system while driving would err to the side of caution when setting up the car’s suspension. Jason brings out that yes, the car does exhibit understeer in its stock configuration, but he also explains how that suspension allows for tuning to be more responsive.
Truth be told, even Corvette Racing sets up each one of the C8.Rs to best utilize the drivers who will be piloting them. The setup is still a compromise, and that’s only three people at most! When you consider the much bigger number of production C8s GM wishes to put in mere mortal’s garages, it makes sense to build-in a little safety window. One commenter put it very succinctly, “Old saying; Understeer gets you around the track slightly slower. Oversteer gets you off the track much quicker.”
Flaw #4: Pushrod Engine
This one comes together at the point of enthusiast expectations and Corvette’s value-per-dollar. Corvette enthusiasts have long-touted the cost-effectiveness (and proven track record) of the lowly pushrod engine. Jason even concedes that he’s now a believer. The fact is, it works. Even with so much of the additional technology that has crept in under Corvette’s hood (even before “frunk” was a thing) a two-valve, pushrod engine has kept the Bowtie alive. Will there be overhead-cammed versions down the road? Some are salivating to find out, but we seriously doubt it’ll be in anything that closely resembles the base C8’s sub-60-K buy-in price.
Flaw #5: All-Season Tires
This one really speaks to those folks who purchased Corvettes, Cadillacs, or Camaros fitted with Ultra-High Performance “Summer” tires. A short search on your favorite forum should give you enough reading about reduced grip and cold-temperature cracking to keep you occupied. Just keep reading until the All-Season tires turn out to be a good thing. Also, just like the suspension, your tires can be swapped out to specifically tune them to handle your heightened driving ability.
You can question whether you should be required to change out your tires to do so, but just remember, no one questions the need to apply the various power-adders to their cars to increase their performance. On the other side, there are many folks who purchase cars and don’t feel the need. GM is simply trying to give you the most performance possible while still keeping everyone else safe. Of course, whether these steps taken are considered a genius move or not depends on which side of any lawsuit you might find yourself.
Still A Market For Day-One Mods
While many muscle cars have become very valuable in their stock form, a large portion of those very cars was modified almost instantly after leaving showrooms to get more performance out of them. Even then, OEMs were searching for that razor-thin line between performance and liability. They still do that today, but it can be argued the foundations we have to start with are MUCH higher performing, safer, and greater value, even in their “flawed” condition.