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The Corvette is coming!
Friday’s announcement that America’s iconic sports car will be arriving in Holden showroom didn’t come as a complete surprise - in fact we’d expected it for years - but it was still great to get the confirmation.
However, it’s still early days for the Corvette in Australia with Holden yet to confirm when it will go on sale and how much it will cost. Given the new model only goes into production in Kentucky in the fourth quarter of 2019, and US demand is likely to be high for such a ground-breaking new model, don’t expect to see right-hand drive models by late 2020 at the earliest.
Still, it wouldn’t surprise us to see a local unveiling of the new model sometime in 2019 with the annual Supercars race at Bathurst a suitable venue. After all, Ford has been enjoying the lion’s share of the on-track success this season, so a demonstration of its new road-going supercar would be a great PR opportunity for Holden; but that’s just a guess on our part.
As for the price, Chevrolet says the entry-grade Stingray will start at “less than $60,000” in the US, which converts to approximately $85,000 locally. However, given the import costs and depending on the level of standard trim, a starting price between $100,000 and $150,000 seems realistic.
That may be expensive for something from the Holden showroom but compared to its rivals, such as the circa-$300,000 Porsche 911 and Honda’s $420,000 before on-road costs NSX, it could be a bargain supercar that will give the brand a much needed image boost.
While we wait for its arrival and more details from Holden, here are some facts and technical insights you need to know about the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray before it arrives.
That seems highly unlikely for one main reason - it doesn’t have a Chevrolet badge.
Like the Ferrari Dino that famously ditched the Prancing Horse emblem, the Corvette has its own unique logo, instead of a Chevrolet ‘bow tie’.
Yes, eagle-eyed readers will notice there is a Chevy badge inside the Corvette logo, but they won’t be changing that to a Holden lion.
Regardless of what badge adorns it, the Corvette brand is strong enough to stand on its own, without being called a Chevrolet or Holden. It’s probably worth noting that Holden referred to the car simply as the ‘Corvette’ throughout its official press release confirming its arrival locally, so expect it to be sold like that; the automotive equivalent of Madonna or Beyonce.
The Chevrolet engineering team realised as long ago as the sixth-generation Corvette that moving the engine was a necessary step if they wanted to keep improving the performance of the American icon.
Heck, as far back as the 1960's, Belgian engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov, who is considered the father of the Corvette, built the Chevrolet Experimental Research Vehicles (CERVs) I-III to test both the then-new small block V8, but also push the limits of what was possible with the Corvette.
In the 1980s Chevrolet created a series of mid-engine Corvette concept cars, but by the C6 model they acknowledged they were running out of options with the front-engine/rear-wheel drive format. In order to make the C6 ZR1 faster than the C6 Z06, the engineers needed the help of Michelin to produce better tyres, because the chassis was at its limit of performance.
Amid the shock of the engine moving position, Chevy engineers decided to stick with tradition for the powerplant. There are no superchargers or hybrid help (at least not yet) and instead the C8 is motivated by a good ol’ fashion naturally-aspirated V8.
The LT2, as it is codenamed, is a 6.2-litre unit producing 370kW of power and 640Nm of torque. That’s only a minor increase on the outgoing model, with the C7 Stingray’s 6.2-litre V8 making 343kW and 630Nm, but it is more advanced because, in a first for the Corvette, even the base model features a dry-sump lubrication system.
“Though now placed behind the driver, the LT2 gives the same visceral experience we all expect from Corvette,” said Jordan Lee, GM’s global chief engineer of small block engines. “The LT2 has been designed to deliver excellent low-end torque and high-end power to give thrilling pedal response at any RPM.”
It also gets shown off now, sitting underneath a 3.2mm glass engine panel so you can admire the American bent eight from outside the car.
The Corvette is famous for its long bonnet and stubby tail, but the mid-engine layout means an all new stance for the American coupe. While trying to retain a design aesthetic that links back to the angular and aggressive C7 model it replaces, the Chevrolet designers found inspiration for the C8 in the sky.
Modern fighter jets such as the Lockheed Martin F22 and F35 were used to hone the new cab-forward stance of the new Stingray, giving it an even more purposeful look than the model it replaces.
Moving the engine wasn’t the only major mechanical change for the C8, with Chevrolet ditching a manual transmission for the first time in the Corvette’s history.
Instead the sole gearbox option is an all-new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic built by Tremac. While the manual-loving purists may be upset by the change, Corvette executive chief engineer Tadge Juechter promises the new paddle-shift setup provides plenty of feeling and control for the driver thanks to the way the transmission has been designed.
“The performance shift algorithms are so driver-focused, they can sense when you’re doing spirited driving - regardless of driving mode - and will hold lower gears longer for more throttle response,”he said.
Featuring shift-by-wire technology (dubbed 'Electronic Transmission Range Selector' by Chevrolet) the engineers claim the changes between ratios are faster and more direct. The engine torque curve has also been altered to better match the new ‘box, allowing for a low first gear for better traction, a tightly-packed second through sixth for better response, while seventh and eighth are designed for highway cruising.
General Motors president (and former Holden managing director) Mark Reuss gave a big tease at the end of the Corvette’s unveiling last week, promising: “We are just getting started.”
He then showed off a video of the new Le Mans-spec GTE race version of the C8 undergoing testing ahead of its debut at the 2020 24-hours of Daytona, where it will do battle with the new Porsche 911 RSR and Ferrari 488 GTE.
Don’t expect Holden to enter the Corvette as its V8 Supercars entrant though, the two-seat layout doesn’t comply with the current rules, but there is the possibility that Chevrolet will build a GT3-spec racer that could one day find itself competing in the Bathurst 12-Hour.
But that’s for the racetrack, for the road, Chevrolet undoubtedly has plenty in store for the next generation Z06 and ZR1 Corvettes to sit above the Stingray and give the European supercars a real run for their money.
The current Z06 sports a 485kW/881Nm supercharged V8, while the big daddy ZR1 packs the same engine boosted to 563kW/970Nm and a track-ready aerodynamic package - plus a range of other performance updates including standard carbon ceramic brakes.
Australians may have waited more than 60 years for the Corvette to make its way Down Under, but judging by what the C8 has in store it may be well worth the wait.