Len Ingrassia: Mid-engine Vette turns exotic

The 2020 Corvette Stingray Coupe with eight-speed dual clutch transmission has been completely redesigned, resembling a Ferrari or McLaren supercar.

Not only has Chevrolet scored a hit with its new mid-engine sport’s car, it has done so at an affordable price – tens of thousands less than global supercars it competes with.

That’s right. You can have one of these in your driveway for under $60 large at a time when Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren’s are selling for $200,000-$300,000.

There is more, too. The base Vette with performance package is nose-to-nose with all the above in the 0-60 mph time posting 2.8 seconds. How cool is that for an American icon?

Not only does the new Vette have extreme high performance, its all-new body barely resembles its predecessors. Instead, functional wide-body rear air vents, ala Ferrari, form fit with a massive rear hatch covering the 495 horsepower V8 engine compartment.

Removable T-top adds an exotic look while it is stored in what cargo space there is out back. Gone is the elongated hood, replaced with a small opening with limited cargo.

Wide 20-inch run-flat rear summer tires are contrasted with 19-inch paws up front to give maximum traction.

Throughout test week, we were met with crowds, including Vette owners, wanting a closer look. “Wow, it looks awesome” and “… how’s it run” were common. Most just wanted to walk around and gaze in amazement while taking photos.

So light are body panels with sheet molding composites incorporating fiberglass that they float in water. Structural carbon fiber is used in the passenger floor, all designed to reduce weight to 3,366 pounds.

You can customize cabin environment using a driver-angled row of 14 buttons and three toggle switches with driver features on top and passenger climate below. Customizable digital gauges monitor engine vitals and driving modes with a 12-inch screen and an 8-inch info display at center console for navigation, entertainment, phone and other cabin features.

Except for one or two parts, the Stingray body, drivetrain and engine are all new along with an eight-speed automatic transmission, the only one available. While automatic in name, there is no torque converter. Instead a dual clutch regulates each clutch pack and input shaft with computer preciseness.

Based on your driving habits, gears are pre-selected anticipating your needs. Split-second shifts are made faster than possible with a manual gearbox. The result is spirited performance at any speed.

There are multiple driving modes available to customize your ride, including the default – Tour, Eco, Weather, Sport and Track. Settings can be stored for each mode and are enabled with the push of a Z button located next to the square steering wheel.

Weather mode adjusts controls to provide maximum traction on slick roadway. Eco reduces cylinder activation to four to conserve fuel. Tour aligns comfort and dampens shocks. Sport maximizes power, stiffens suspension and increases throttle response while switching to RPM display. Track mode increases Magnetic Ride Damping and steering to maximize responsiveness with maximum throttle.

We found the Stingray to be highly responsive with little pedal pressure while emitting a healthy exhaust note. Steering, braking and cornering were precise while hugging the road under maneuvers.

Our take: One test drive in the new Stingray and you will be hooked.

What was reviewed:

2020 Corvette Stingray Coupe

Engine: 6.2-liter mid-engine V8, 495 horsepower.

EPA mileage: 15 city, 27 highway, 19 combined.

Assembled: Final assembly at Bowling Green, Ky. U.S./Canadian parts content, 64 percent. Country of origin; engine and transmission, U.S.

Crash test ratings: Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has rated the Corvette as of this writing.

Warranty: 3-year/36,000-mile basic; 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain; first scheduled maintenance visit.

Len Ingrassia has been an automotive columnist for 25 years and is a former daily and group newspaper editor on the East Coast and Midwest.

Len Ingrassia has been an automotive columnist for 25 years and is a former daily and group newspaper editor on the East Coast and Midwest.

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