When Chevrolet introduced the 2020 Corvette, the C8, the internet was ground-zero for a cat-five groundswell that has sent ripples into every one of its competitor’s tech centers. Not to put too fine of a spin on it, the automotive world changed that day forever. When the world woke up the following day, a mid-engine supercar with stunning looks and unwavering capability was now available for sub-60,000 dollars.
Fans of the new car have been coming on-line in droves after experiencing the car first-hand. Others are living the C8 life vicariously through the media and other means who are lucky or connected enough to get early access to a car that Chevrolet hasn’t even begun building yet. That is likely why, when Motor Trend got their hands on a C8 for testing, so many folks were waiting to hear what the long-time car reviewer had to say.
the C8 Corvette Z51 shot to 60 mph in a staggering 2.8 seconds on the way to an 11.1-second quarter mile at 123.2 mph. – Motor Trend
For years, Motor Trend (MT) has been evaluating cars throughout the entire spectrum from daily drivers to supercars. Corvette has been one of those cogs in the gears that rotate through its evaluation testing at about the same rate as when a new model is introduced. Of course, when the C8 came on the scene, it was a forgone conclusion that one of the cars from Chevrolet’s captured fleet would be making its way there for evaluation. And it did.
Much of the information came through the tactile driving of the seasoned test drivers for the publication. And while you may not agree with everything they say, you can pretty much bank on it in some sense.
What DID raise a significant amount of eyebrows was when Motor Trend published a story about their dyno runs of a new C8. Ciphering out the horsepower of an engine from a chassis dyno chart has many variables. There are even different dyno numbers depending on the dyno that you use. That’s why it’s always advisable to compare runs from the same dyno, on the same day to allow for at least some form of consistency. You know, “Back-to-back runs”.
Chassis dynos also interpret all that horsepower through the maze of differentials, gear ratios, and other variables. They use their digital slide rules to find the car’s horsepower where the rubber meets the roller, not at the engine’s crankshaft. To do that, you need to do a little more math and “find the X” that was lost as all that torque worked its way through the entire driveline. Items such as oil viscosity and temperature all play an integral role in accurately locating that “X”. That is why consistency plays such a vital role in hitting the proper target.
Getting On Paper
That is why when a trusted outlet such as Motor Trend jumped into this juggernaut of equations and brought forth numbers that not even the car’s builders would state, many a brow was raised as to who did the math. Truth be told, my high school isn’t known for its math program, so if you are a budding mathlete and love a good tumble in the formulas, you’ll likely find “X” much quicker without me. But I find it hard to believe that Chevy would simply leave another 150+ horsepower on the table if it were there for the taking.
Knowing a little bit about driveline losses, I’ve wondered if some of the blame might be at the hands of the all-new 8-speed DCT transmission. There’s no external differential and the clutch system itself is more sophisticated than any clutch-fork-operated gizmo to date. Also, the type of dyno can make a significant difference. Would it make a 150-horsepower difference? Likely not. For that much of a faux-pas, you’ll need to include some math. At least, that’s been my experience with math.
There’s an old saying, “In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.” Maybe that’s why so many people are looking to the C8’s track times to put this theoretical horsepower number into practice. Motor Trend would be remiss if it didn’t include them in its review of the new car and for those who seek for the devil in the details, here is a quote, “the C8 Corvette Z51 shot to 60 mph in a staggering 2.8 seconds on the way to an 11.1-second quarter mile at 123.2 mph.”
With that bit of information, many folks have been back-mathing, trying to elucidate the actual horsepower of the engine. As I’ve said, I am much more at ease sitting in the driver’s seat of any car than I am in front of a chalkboard full of formulas. Thankfully, the internet is full of calculators to assist folks like me.
There are also many other variables that play into how much horsepower any engine will make. It’s actually amazing how stable the math remains when you remember which column the decimal point should be in. In this video, Full Throttle Drive explains some of the other variables that will help us mere mortals understand better how much horsepower the new C8 Corvette’s engine actually makes. That is if you really don’t want to take Chevrolet at its word.