What the New Mid-Engine Placement Means for Corvette
Chevrolet on Friday debuted its much-anticipated 2020 Stingray, the brand’s first-ever production mid-engine Corvette.
“The traditional front-engine vehicle reached its limits of performance, necessitating the new layout,” said GM President Mark Reuss. “In terms of comfort and fun, it still looks and feels like a Corvette, but drives better than any vehicle in Corvette history.”
The new mid-engine layout, according to Chevy, gives the 2020 Stingray:
- Better weight distribution, with the rear weight bias enhancing performance in a straight line and on the track
- Better responsiveness and sense of control due to driver positioning closer to the front axle, almost on top of the front wheels
- The fastest zero to 60 mph time of any entry Corvette ever; under three seconds when equipped with Z51 Performance Package
- A race car-inspired view of the road due to lower positioning of the hood, instrument panel and steering wheel
- An enhancement of Corvette’s traditional utility strengths, with dual trunks for a total of 12.6 cubic feet of cargo volume, ideal for luggage or two sets of golf clubs
In The Middle
The 2020 Stingray’s heart is Chevy’s next-generation 6.2-liter small block V-8 LT2 engine, naturally aspirated. It will produce 495 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque when equipped with performance exhaust.
The powertrain’s low position enables a low center of gravity for optimal handling, according to Chevy.
Perhaps the biggest update is found in the lubrication and ventilation system. For the first time ever, the base Stingray will use an engine-mounted dry sump oil system and three scavenge pumps for improved track performance.
During serious track driving, oil volume remains high to avoid diminished performance. The new Stingray’s lateral capability is greatly improved, so the LT2’s dry sump lubrication system had to be redesigned to provide exceptional engine performance even at lateral acceleration levels exceeding 1G in all directions.
A lightweight, 3.2mm-thick glass panel on the rear hatch allows owners to show off the engine. This panel features a cantilevered trailing edge to evacuate heat from the LT2 engine compartment.
Other notable engine characteristics include:
- A brand-new block and vent system. The centerline of the crankshaft sits an inch lower to the ground where it mates to the transaxle for better handling
- Low-profile oil pan that reduces mass
- Oil cooler capacity increased by 25 percent
- Standard edge Red valve covers
The next-generation LT2 is paired with Chevrolet’s first eight speed dual-clutch transmission, which provides lightning-fast shifts and excellent power transfer. This transmission is uniquely designed with TREMEC to provide the best of both worlds: the spirited, direct connected feeling of a manual and the premium driving comfort of an automatic, according to Chevy. The double-paddle de-clutch feature even allows the driver to disconnect the clutch by holding both paddles for more manual control.
The new small block V-8 has a torque curve optimized to take advantage of the bespoke DCT’s lightning-fast shifts. Engineers set the DCT up with a very low first gear to leverage the additional traction to get the car off the line quickly, and its close-ratio gears two through six keep the engine near the power peak on track. Tall seventh and eighth gears make for easy long-distance cruising with low mechanical stress and excellent fuel economy.
The DCT is mated to a new Electronic Transmission Range Selector. With this electric shifter there’s no mechanical interface between the shift lever and the transmission, according to Chevy. The Corvette’s electric shifter incorporates two pull toggles for Reverse and Drive and push buttons for Park, Neutral and Low/Manual. The shifter has been designed to be more attractive and compact than a standard shifter.
Corvette’s structure is built around its backbone: the center tunnel. This enables a light, stiff structure to serve as the foundation for the suspension system to perform in an optimized manner, according to Chevy. The car has a solid, connected-to-the-road feel with minimal vibrations at high speeds or on long road trips.
The tunnel-dominant approach offers many advantages, according to Chevy, including:
- Improved torsional rigidity with a solid, connected feel on both the road and track
- Outstanding ingress/egress for a mid-engine vehicle. There’s no need for oversized rocker panels to bear structural and load weights, making it easier to enter and exit the vehicle
- Excellent stability due to a low center of gravity and outstanding handling
- Preservation of Corvette’s beloved standard removable roof panel, which can easily be stored in the rear trunk
- A front storage compartment that can fit an airline-spec carry-on and a laptop bag
- Availability in both left- and right-hand-drive variants, a first for Corvette
- Smart packaging with improved cabin comfort, including an additional inch of rearward seat travel and almost double the reclining angle
The all-new Corvette Stingray is built with a mixed-materials strategy, enabling key features such as:
- A stiff and lightweight main structure of six high-pressure diecast aluminum parts, also known as the Bedford Six, which are manufactured at GM Powertrain in Bedford, Indiana. These minimize the number of joints within the vehicle, making a stiffer structure that aids in handling and track cornering
- Industry-first carbon fiber curved rear bumper beam for weight reduction
- Front and rear trunk tubs and dashboard molded from ultra-lightweight float derived from fiberglass and a proprietary resin. The material is so light that it can actually float in water, according to Chevy. It works with other fiberglass and carbon fiber variants to lower mass and reduce noise and vibration.
The Stingray is designed for superior ride comfort on the highway and well-balanced handling on the track. It features coil over dampers that create entirely new ride and handling characteristics. The mid-engine architecture allows for a short, straight and stiff steering system, coupled with an updated electronic steering system, making the driver’s chassis input instantaneous, according to Chevy.
The new seating position places the car’s center of gravity close to the driver’s inside hip, so the car literally turns around the driver. It completely changes the perception of vehicle handling and responsiveness.
Other ride and handling upgrades, according to Chevy, include:
- Steering ratio improved from 16.25:1 to 15.7:1
- New eBoost brakes that are more precise and tunable
- The first sports car application of Michelin’s all-season performance tire that can corner at nearly 1G
- Front suspension lift that raises ground clearance by approximately 40mm at the front bumper in 2.8 seconds, protecting against bumps, potholes, steep driveways and other road disturbances. It can operate at speeds up to 24 mph and be programmed to work automatically through GPS to remember up to 1,000 locations
- Launch control aided by the rear weight distribution, enabling the new Stingray to get off the line quicker than any Corvette in history
Racing and Aeronautic Inspired
The 2020 Stingray’s exterior has a bold, futuristic expression with mid-engine exotic proportions, but it is still unmistakably Corvette; it’s lean and muscular, with an athletic sculptural shape conveying a sense of motion and power from every angle, according to Chevy.
The new location of the engine is truly the focal point for the car’s design. It’s the heart of this next generation Corvette and it sits like a jewel in a showcase, visible through the large rear hatch window. The added attention to detail optimized the appearance of every wire, tube, bolt and fastener, similar to those found in modern track and all-road motorcycle design, according to Chevy.
Some additional design touchpoints, according to Chevy, include:
- Low -profile headlamps designed around all-new projectors
- Completely hidden door, hood and hatch releases do not disrupt the sculpted design
- Large side air intakes for engine cooling and aerodynamic performance
- A-pillar shape that communicates speed and assists in visibility
- Large rear hatch that showcases the engine with seven air vents
- Quad exhaust tips located on the vehicle’s outboard ends
- Dual-element LED taillamps with animated turn signals
True to its aeronautical and racing roots, the 2020 Stingray’s canopy-forward stance was inspired by F22s, F35s and other modern fighter jets and Formula 1 racing, according to Chevy. Other classic Corvette signatures adapted to the Stingray include a distinctive face that communicates the purpose of the vehicle’s mission, a classic horizontal crease, aggressive front fenders and familiar positioning of the dual-element headlamps.
The interior is further enhanced, according to Chevy, by:
- A cockpit that has not only migrated forward by 16.5 inches, but envelops the driver, conveying the high performance and aeronautic theme
- Vertical climate controls and ultra-thin vents minimize the height of the instrument panel, creating a low, spacious interior
- A new, squared-off, two-spoke, small diameter steering wheel that enables an unobscured view of the 12-inch reconfigurable cluster display
- Hand-wrapped, cut-and-sew leather components with thick press stitching
- Use of real metal
- Stainless steel speaker grilles with Bose Performance Series audio system
- Carbon fiber trim on the GT2 and Competition Sport Seats
- The choice of either real aluminum or real carbon fiber for console and door trim plates
Customers can create their own design statement, with the most personalization options ever for Corvette:
- 12 exterior colors, including Torch Red, Arctic White, Black, Blade Silver Metallic, Shadow Gray, Ceramic Matrix Gray, Long Beach Red, Elkhart Lake Blue and Sebring Orange; and three all-new colors: Rapid Blue, Zeus Bronze and Accelerate Yellow
- Six interior color themes: Jet Black, Sky Cool Gray, Adrenaline Red, Natural/ Natural Dipped, Two-Tone Blue and Morello Red.
- Six seat belt colors: black, blue, Natural, Torch Red, yellow and orange.
- Two optional stitch packages: yellow and red. Standard black interiors have Sky Cool Gray stitching
The Three seat options include:
- GT1—a sporty style that emphasizes comfort while providing good support for performance driving situations. Features Mulan leather trim, optional two-way lumbar support and wing adjustment
- GT2—a first for Corvette, these seats have a racing-inspired look with comfort for long trips courtesy of dual density foam. They include carbon fiber trim, a Napa leather insert, Mulan leather bolsters, a jet black-painted seat back, two-way lumbar support and wing adjustment, plus heating and ventilation
- Competition Sport—designed for the serious track-focused driver, these seats include aggressive bolsters, full Napa seating surfaces and carbon fiber trim on the headrest, heating and ventilation, along with an all-new durable performance textile inspired by Kevlar vests.
Z51 Performance Package
Meanwhile, the Z51 Performance Package introduces a host of new technologies to the 2020 Stingray, including:
- Performance suspension with manually adjustable threaded spring seats
- Larger brake rotors with Z51 logo on calipers
- Enhanced cooling
- Specific axle ratio
- Front brake cooling inlets
- Performance exhaust
- An electronic limited slip differential integrated into the transaxle that modulates torque between the rear tires, enabling incredible vehicle stability
- A front splitter and open two-piece rear spoiler that add up to a combined 400 pounds of downforce while improving grip when cornering.
- Available Magnetic Ride Control 4.0, which reads the road better, providing more precise data through suspension-mounted accelerometers. Its improved electronics respond faster and more smoothly to driver inputs
- Available Performance Traction Management
Electronics & Infotainment
Driver mode choices have been expanded from four to six, allowing drivers to tweak the feel of their Corvettes to their personal preference. The familiar Weather, Tour, Sport and Track modes remain, and there are two new modes:
- MyMode, a configurable setting for preferred driving style that can remain between key cycles
- Z mode, named after the famed Z06, ZR1 and Z51 Corvette performance packages, is activated through a Z button on the steering wheel. This is a single-use mode that takes MyMode configurations one step further, allowing drivers to adjust the engine and transmission as well
The 2020 Stingray benefits from GM’s new digital vehicle platform, an all-new electronic architecture that enables the adoption of the company’s next generation of technologies, according to Chevrolet. The architecture minimizes wiring while allowing for faster signal transmission between different vehicle systems and the higher resolution screens. The platform enables continuous vehicle improvements through over-the-air updates and enhanced cybersecurity measures.
Other new technology features, according to Chevrolet, include:
- Corvette’s next-generation infotainment system is faster and simpler, with a higher resolution display
- Chevy-first one-touch Bluetooth pairing with Near Field Communication
- Wireless charging
- Learn-as-you-go voice recognition
- Improved real-time traffic
- A new, 12-inch customizable instrument cluster tailored to all six driver modes.
New electrical features include:
- Driver and passenger seat memory
- Heated steering wheel
- Tire fill alert warns the driver when tire meets maximum pressure
- Two new Bose audio systems: a 10-speaker standard premium system and available 14-speaker Bose Performance Series system. Speaker grilles are integrated into lower door trim for a refined look that also helps guard against damage from footwear
- Performance Data Recorder—an advanced driving analysis tool upgraded with high-definition resolution camera and a new, in-vehicle user interface. Customers can record both circuit and point-to-point road courses. The PDR can be set to auto-record like a dash cam that starts a recording every time the Corvette is running or configured to only start when the car is set to Valet mode
Hitting The Streets
The entry 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray will start under $60,000, according to Chevy. The car goes into production at GM’s Bowling Green Assembly in late 2019. Additional pricing and packaging information will be shared closer to launch.