A new mid-engine layout for the venerable Corvette.
Decades after developing prototypes of a mid-engine variant, the Corvette assumed that format beginning in 2020, which also represents the launch of its eighth generation. Known as the C8, the latest Corvette is an absolute head turner and a veritable bargain in a sea of high-end sportscars. The Stingray is the first of what’s promised to be several versions of Chevrolet’s iconic sportscar line.
2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Review
Chevrolet offers the 2021 Corvette in one Stingray model. Buyers have a choice of a coupe ($58,900) or a Convertible ($66,400). Add $1,095 for the destination charge.
From there, shoppers will find three trims: 1LT ($59,995), 2LT ($67,295), and 3LT ($71,945). These prices are for the coupe and include the destination charge; add $7,500 to the respective trims to get convertible pricing.
We mention here 2021 pricing and specifications, which are unchanged, as the 2020 model sold out in November. As for the 2021s, production begins on Dec. 8.
The eighth-generation Corvette experienced production delays in late 2019 due to a United Autoworkers Union strike. In the spring, just as production was ready to ramp up, the COVID-19 pandemic shut production once again. Since resuming production, GM has been working diligently to fill back orders. Those orders are now completed, although some customers may have elected to receive a 2021 model.
We’re not seeing additional Corvette models for 2021, such as the Gran Sport or Z06. Instead, for its second model year the C8 ushers in new color schemes, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, and Magnetic Ride Control as a stand-alone option apart from the Z51 Package.
How best to describe the new Corvette’s exterior? One word: awesome! We were struck, no lovestruck by how beautiful this sportscar is from the front, sides, rear, and even from the top. The new model brings forward many of the design cues from the C7, but what’s also apparent is that body houses a mid-engine layout. Thus, a clear departure from the previous models is evident, but not by losing the “vettiness” that has always defined this model.
You might also confuse the C8’s look with a Ferrari and that’s never a bad thing. There are distinct differences, but the angles are more similar than not.
Chevrolet claims the latest design is fighter-jet inspired, specifically drawn from F-22 and F-35 aircraft as well as Formula One cars. The cockpit sits forward and oversized air ducts occupy the rear quarter panels. The front end is the closest to a traditional Corvette look, while the rear features a huge spoiler and a taillight pattern that builds on the C7’s fantastic expression.
We applaud Chevrolet with building coupe and convertible models, the latter a hard-top variety that simply looks fantastic. The only drawback is that the convertible’s design eliminates the engine window, a feature that makes the engine bay a prominent part of the overall design scheme.
Chevrolet offers 12 color choices with the 2021 Corvette Stingray. Eight are no-cost choices; the other four include various metallic ($500) and tintcoat ($995) upgrades. Notably, the Long Beach Red Metallic Tintcoat ($995), which was featured on our test model was also one and done, now replaced by a Red Mist Metallic Tintcoat ($995).
Further customization is possible through various Stinger stripes ($500) and Full-Length Dual Racing Stripe Package ($995) choices. Our test model did not come with striping, but it did have the very fetching Edge Red painted brake calipers ($595).
One feature worth considering is the available Front Lift Adjustable Height With Memory ($1,495) option. A switch located at the base of the center console activates the same, using hydraulics to raise the front end by nearly two inches. Specifically, “Front Lift” works in under three seconds and at speeds under 24 mph to lift the Corvette. What’s also cool about this, is that the system will remember up to 1,000 locations by GPS, enabling you to avoid speed bumps and manage steep driveways with ease.
There is nothing ordinary about the Corvette’s interior. The Stingray features two distinct seating areas, with the driver surrounded by an aircraft layout and HVAC-related controls running on a panel strip from the top of the dashboard to the center console. It’s what divides the passenger section in more ways than one.
The steering wheel is unusual as it is small and squared. Yet, we never felt that it wasn’t suitable for this model. Our only qualm was with the location of the windshield washer stick – it juts out on the right side of the column and interferes with the knob controlling the console screen. While the stalk’s size is appropriate, we think relocating the control knob to the lower part of the panel would be the ideal solution.
Slip behind the wheel of the C8 and drink it all in – there is a lot going on there! Fortunately, none of it is particularly distracting. From the digital screen composing the instrument panel (and switch-controlled in the console) to handsome contrast stitching, the Corvette shows a level of sophistication we admire. Further, aluminum touches and even carbon fiber dress the cabin for success.
Depending on the trim level, you’ll find various seating options. From Mulan leather (1LT) to Napa leather (2LT), the seats are just what’s needed for this vehicle. Move up to the 3LT and Competition Sport seats come in. There are a number of design options available, including two-tone seats, red or yellow stitching, and sueded microfiber.
Beginning with the GT2 bucket seats, these chairs feature 8-way adjustment with power bolster and power lumbar. We found the front seats very comfortable and ideal for long drives.
The Corvette comes with an 8-inch diagonal HD screen, Bluetooth, a 10-speaker Bose audio system, HD Radio, satellite radio, USB ports, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility.
Move up to the 2LT and the C8 gains navigation and a Performance Data Recorder, the latter works with your personal SD memory car. Here, the system captures video, audio driving statistics, date and time, and a special Valet Mode to track the car when you’re not behind the wheel. A wireless charging port is included, beginning at this trim level, and is fixed on the engine bulkhead between the seats.
Among the options available is a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot for connecting up to seven devices and a head-up display with readouts for Tour, Sport and Track modes.
Most of the Stingray’s safety features appear beginning with the 2LT trim. Here, you’ll find rear cross-traffic alert and side blind-zone alert. What the Corvette doesn’t have is automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, or adaptive cruise control. Typically, sportscars don’t include certain advanced features we see in other models.
A familiar engine accompanies the C8 and that’s none other than a naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8. Now in its fifth generation, this engine is also the most powerful one yet with an output of 490 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. With the Z51 package, those numbers increase by 5 each, enabling this sportscar to reach 0-60 mph in just under 3 seconds.
The C8’s power comes from its engine, but it also benefits from its ability to “breathe” freely. To begin, its intake system features a low-restriction design marked by identical 210 mm runners and an 87 mm throttle body. According to its developers, the C8’s performance exhaust manifolds are low-restriction and represents a four-into-one design.
Further, the designers also worked in a dry-sump oil system, integrating that into the engine block which permits for better positioning in the form of a lower center of gravity. Moreover, the Corvette also utilizes a trio of scavenging pumps to harvest circulating oil, to ensure pressurized distribution to navigate the highest-g situations while on the track.
Sending power to the wheels is the work of a new 8-speed dual-clutch transmission. It’s an automatic arrangement with manual properties – sadly, no true manual transmission allowing for three-pedal foot action and deft shift-by-hand involvement is available this year. We think one is possible in the future, but not right now.
But shoppers should not stay dismayed for long: the dual-clutch transmission pushes through the gears faster than humanly possible. In effect, the transmission incorporates two manual computer-actuated gearboxes with clutches to mitigate torque loss. One shaft controls the even gears plus reverse, the other shaft manages the odd gears.
Taking the C8 on the road simply opens a book to spirited driving that few other models can match, especially in the Corvette’s price range. Already the fastest Corvette made to date, the Stingray delivers on its promises consistently.
Hitting the Road
Activate the ignition and the Stingray roars to life, with a back-pressure whoosh to start things off and one accompanied by a loud idle. There’s no quiet mode here – you’ll wake the neighbors if you’re a night driver.
The Corvette simply strolls along until you’re ready to press the pedal to the floor. Once you do, the engine responds rapidly as an accompanying resonating roar fundamentally responds. No doubt about it, the C8 is quick and feels poised – weighty steering, deft handling, a comfortable ride, and firm brakes combine to make this superstar shine.
As you might suspect, we saved our fun driving for the backroads where traffic was nil. As much as we are sad the manual is no longer available, the new transmission is a keeper. We didn’t record our 0-60 mph times, preferring to simply put the C8 through the paces and do it all over again. Even as our speed climbed well above posted limits, we felt confident behind the wheel – the Corvette hunkers down, hugs the road, and almost begs to be driven hard.
And hard is the way to go – we were quite pleased with how much power is thrown down when passing, as the engine and transmission cooperated to find the right amount of power for the correct gearing. We were in awe time and again as the C8 pushed hard and rewarded us with neck-snapping responses.
What shouldn’t be overlooked is the Corvette’s weight distribution. While the previous model had an ideal near 50:50 (front to rear) weight distribution, the mid-engine layout makes it 40:60. The rear bias, though, changes the driving dynamic by improving traction and straight-line performance. That’s more power sent to the pavement than any previous model, including those with 755 horsepower (C7 Z1, that is).
Z51 Performance Package
You don’t believe for a moment Corvette shoppers will settle for a base model, do you? It’s doubtful you’ll find one anyway as the popular Z51 Performance Package ($5,995) just shouldn’t be overlooked.
What makes the Z51 worthwhile? First of all, it’s required for track use. The standard model does a lot of things quite well, but if you’re planning on track time, an upgrade is in order. Certainly, you could forgo the upgrade, but chances are you won’t – track time planned or not.
The package is composed of several features including performance Brembo brakes, a performance suspension system, performance exhaust, performance rear axle ratio, and an electronic limited-slip differential. Further, the package includes a heavy-duty cooling system, a Z51-specific front splitter and rear spoiler, and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. The staggered tires measure 245/35ZR19 in the front and 305/30ZR20 at the rear. Specifically, they’re high performance, run-flat, and summer-only tires.
The Corvette is in a league of its own, at least where it concerns domestic product. Some may point out the Ford GT as a competitor, but they’re wrong. The GT is a restricted-volume sportscar, while the Corvette doesn’t have such limits. Further, the GT is best pitted against the Ferarri 488 GTB, McLaren 675 LT, and the Porsche 911 Turbo S.
While the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and Dodge Challenger have high-performance versions (and some that are quicker than the Corvette Stingray), these models fall under the “Grand Touring” label. As such, they simply are not truly sports cars.
The nearest competitor to the Corvette is the Porsche Cayman. Previously, the Porsche 911 would have qualified, but since moving to its mid-engine platform, the Corvette and Cayman are now much more alike than different. We also recommend comparing the C8 to the Acura NSX.
Other models to consider include the exotics mentioned above, at least in performance, not price. The Corvette easily undercuts the cost of the priciest models, selling at a fraction of the total thereof.
Start your search with the 2LT trim and you’ll find a solid foundation to build from there. Once you decide between coupe or convertible, you’ll begin a level of personalization that suits your needs.
Our test model pushed the $84,000 mark and that includes the main upgrades – Z51 performance package, upgraded bucket seats, front lift, special exterior color, and red brake calipers. That’s $16,380 in upgrades for the convertible. You could go higher, but we think we found the sweet spot.
Looking ahead, the Stingray will be followed by far more costlier models. Those will roll out separately over the next five years, including an all-electric variant. For the majority of shoppers, though, the Stingray will suffice – acquiring one will mean an extended wait time as demand easily outstrips supply of this venerable model.
2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Specifications
|Chevrolet||2021 Corvette Stingray|
|Price Range||From $58,900 to $66,400|
|Standard Engine||6.2-liter, V8|
|Horsepower||490/495 @ 5,700 RPMs|
|Torque (lb.-ft.)||465/470 @ 5,150 RPMs|
|Curb Weight (pounds)||From 3,366|
|Headroom (f,r — inches)||37.9|
|Legroom (f,r — inches)||42.8|
|Shoulder room (f,r — inches)||54.4|
|Hip room (f,r — inches)||52.0|
|Storage (cubic feet)||12.6|
|Gross vehicle weight (pounds)||NR|
|Fuel Tank (gallons)||17.4|
|EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway/combined)||15/27/19|
|Manufacturing Plant||Bowling Green, Kentucky|
See Also — So Long, Farewell to the C7 Corvette
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