Watching the 2020 Corvette unveiling, “I have never seen so many grown men turn into 11 year old boys on Christmas morning” – JJD.
Good job GM, in terms of marketing and creating hype for a product… this should be taught in business schools across the globe. If you are a Corvette fan and have reserved yours, stop reading now so your happiness is not interrupted.
Several folks now have asked me if i will be buying the new “vette” certain my response would be an enthusiastic “yeah buddy!!!” so aren’t they surprised when they hear …nope. Surely after including 2 “vettes” in the top 5 greatest cars ever made list I am a corvette guy, no i’m not, really have no brand loyalty, something of an automotive mercenary if you will. The car that checks all the boxes gets my nod, simple.
So the simple truth is, marketing and sales, that’s why the new corvette is mid engined (MR from now on). The sports car market is shrinking every year and in order to build excitement and stimulate sales, move the engine to the middle, like Ferraris, Mclarens, Lamborghinis and other MR exotica. Also by moving the engine closer to the rear wheels you get better traction from the weight and better off the line acceleration, namely 0-60 (which GM proudly trumpeted as less than 3 seconds during the unveiling a few days ago). They also proudly announced the starting price of <$60k, yet the one they displayed that could actually do the whole 0-60 in < 3 secs was likely optioned to about $70k.
Ahh yes, 0-60, the most successful marketing catchphrase in the history of the automobile, really meaningless for every driving. How many times have you seen someone rev the engine, dump the clutch and peel out from a stop light? yeah exactly, that’s really how those 0-60 numbers are achieved. Or in the case of automatics, floor the brake and gas at the same time then release the brake, doubt normal people subject their drivetrains to that kind of abuse.
Another claim is that they have reached the limit of a front engine (FR from now on) design. True if you plan on making 600+HP but even then, AWD is really what you need. Ultimately that is GM’s goal here, to build 600+ HP Corvettes with AWD and get 0-60 in < 2.5 seconds, a MR platform is certainly the way to go, but the majority of Corvettes sold have < 500hp, in fact only 1 car on the 5 greatest cars ever made list had >600HP. Also, look at all that stuff still surrounding the engine, move it all to the back, and add a mild hybrid system so like a prius everything runs off electricity (like the water pump) and get rid of all the accessory belts running off the engine, that would free up power, efficiency and shift even more weight over the rear wheels, a front engine car with 53% of the weight over the rear anyone? that would be perfect. While GM was coy about the weight distribution of the 2020 MR Corvette, it’s probably going to be about 60% rear, good for acceleration not so much for cornering.
See the mid engined Mclaren 570s pictured above, a Corvette Grand Sport, Mercedes AMG GT-R and a Dodge Viper ACR are all quicker around a racetrack and those are all FR cars. Even more impressive when you consider the fact that the FR Grand Sport has 460HP, while the MR Mclaren has 570HP.
And here is a final cold hard truth, NOBODY is going to be cross shopping a $200k Mclaren with a $70k Chevy Corvette no matter how fast the Corvette is or where the engine is located.
Now don’t get me wrong i think the 2020 Corvette is shaping up to be a nice coupe. If you are in the market for a $70k ish semi luxury coupe it should certainly be on your short list. If you care more about, high speed stability, braking, cornering grip and balance (you know, driving excitement) rather than power folding side mirrors, 0-60 or heated and cooled seats, then a Grand Sport is still your best option.