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Chevrolet Corvette Stingray C8 2022 review

 

A mid-engined Corvette has been in the works for decades – as has its arrival to Australia in right-hand-drive – and guess what? The C8 ‘Vette is a hoot to drive


Good points

  • Muscular naturally-aspirated V8
  • Surprisingly friendly handling
  • Attracts plenty of attention
  • Affordable purchase price
  • Decently practical for what it is

Needs work

  • Electronic steering feel
  • No adaptive cruise control
  • The wrong kind of attention for some
  • Engine is strong but not a screamer

Who says kids don’t love cars anymore? Over my 800km test of the 2022 Chevrolet Corvette ‘C8’ Stingray, seemingly every schoolkid I passed was glued to the window of their parents’ SUV to ogle the new mid-engined supercar, finally built in factory right-hand drive for Australia.

Even more impressively, this feat was a product of a relatively calm and subdued hypersonic grey example of the latest ‘Vette. If Ferrari and Lamborghini are showy and overdone to some, this fairly subtly-hued hypersonic grey Stingray 3LT turns manages to be at once dramatic and subtle – an antidote to a Rosso Corsa Ferrari 296 GTB ($568,300).

Perhaps it’s because people can tell that this particular $160,500 (before on-road costs) 3LT Coupe isn’t that expensive in the grand scheme of things. If it’s rightly to be called a supercar, it’s a bargain, undoubtedly. That’s especially the case when you consider that in its home market of the United States, the same specification of Chevy costs just AUD$88,000 at the time of writing…

Chevrolet Corvette 2022-4

But when a base model Porsche 911 costs $241,200 (before on-road costs) in Australia – and takes more than a second longer to reach 100km/h than the claimed 2.9sec Stingray – there is certainly a relative value-for-money argument to be made for the Corvette, even if we’re charged an eye-watering 80 percent premium over what the Yanks cough up. And that’s before disappointing dealer-delivery price gouging we’re seeing on many C8 examples that have reached Australia.

Along with being the first ever right-hand drive Corvette, this is also the first one ever to be sold in Australia and marks the flagship vehicle in GMSV’s range above a selection of locally-converted pick-up utes from Chevrolet including the Silverado 1500 and 2500.

So, why the decision to make a right-hand-drive Corvette? It seems oddly timed in the wake of General Motor’s high profile pull-out of all RHD markets following the sale of Opel/Vauxhall to automotive megagroup Stellantis, but the wheels for a mid-ship Corvette have been in motion for some time and without an engine ahead of the driver’s footwell it should be easier.

Chevrolet Corvette 2022-6

Chevrolet has poured significant development costs into producing this right-hook Corvette at the same Bowling Green factory as North American vehicles and while a niche V8 sports car might seem odd in a CO2-conscious world, there is an all-electric version slated for 2024 release, so getting the Corvette name known more broadly will certainly help.

As for the mid-engined Corvette it’s been teased, theorised and tested for almost as long as the Corvette name has been around, and the choice was made both for a sportier road car and a more competitive race car in the global GT3 racing series to take the fight to Lamborghini Huracans, Audi R8s and Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs.

How does the Corvette Stingray C8 drive?

The C8 Corvette adopts some fairly racy technology including a sophisticated double wishbone suspension set-up at each corner – a far cry from the live rear-axle C1 from 1952 – and a fairly slinky kerb weight of 1601kg (about 100kg heavier than a Toyota GR Supra).

Because the Corvette is a low-slung machine designed to be a usable platform for GT3 racers, its breadth of ability in terms of everyday comfort is every bit more impressive – yes, it’s occasionally harsh over urban imperfections, but the Corvette is truly livable and less compromising in ride quality terms than my long-term Hyundai i20 N hot hatch.

Chevrolet Corvette 2022-16

All Australian-delivered Corvettes get a nose lift system fitted as standard with the ability to loft the C8’s snout an extra 40mm off the ground. Additionally, these lift-locations can be programmed into the satnav to activate automatically when you reach your driveway, Porsche-style – very cool.

The only real pain to the C8’s daily usability is the road noise from the wide 305/30 R21 Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rear tyres and the poor rear three-quarter visibility… but seriously? That’s not really what the Corvette is about. It’s meant to be loud. And slightly intimidating.

Pulling onto the freeway heading west from the Chasing Cars HQ towards the Blue Mountains allowed me to begin to understand just how slick this eight-speed Tremec dual-clutch transmission in its Tour setting – the midpoint of seven drive modes.

The exhaust hums away just loudly enough making Tour the ideal setting to warm up into the Corvette mindset, with the adaptive dampers letting the midship glide surprisingly gracefully over nasty highway bumps.

Chevrolet Corvette 2022-15

Snaking my way up over the Great Dividing Range, a flick of the drive toggle to ‘Sport’ sharpens throttle, steering and suspensions responses while waking yet more rumble from the V8’s exhaust. Exploring further reaches of the tacho towards the Corvette’s (admittedly low) 6500rpm confirms that induction noise is still the king of automotive sounds, the fact that V8 is presented so beautifully through thin perspex the driver’s head only adds to the drama.

I’m getting a hang of the C8 now: using more revs, leaning harder on the excellent brakes and just feeling the front axle’s grip wain gently towards an apex through the quartic, Alcantara-clad steering wheel, before leaning on the throttle to correct the mild understeer and return neutrality. Commit and trail the brakes further into the corner, and the small amount of understeer almost disappears, but it’s still there to remind you to pull back a touch.

And then La Niña kicked in, the heavens opened up over the west side of the Great Dividing Range. A mid-engined American car with high-performance rubber, 369kW of power and 637Nm of torque in the rain sounds a right handful… And yet? The Corvette is a pussycat.

Some of the controllability is down to the C8’s naturally-aspirated V8 that is just so linear and smooth in its operation. Unlike turbo engines found in the Toyota Supra and most Porsche 718s, what you see on the rev-counter is what you get in grunt terms – no surprises. That’s not to say the Corvette isn’t fast, with a claimed 0-100km/h sprint of 2.9-seconds with this car’s Z51 package, and closely-stacked first six ratios in the gearbox the C8 offers mega punch backed up by the mid-engined layout’s inherent grip advantages (with weight distributed 40 percent front, 60 percent rear).

Chevrolet Corvette 2022-1

With the Corvette turned up to 11 in ‘Z’ mode, the throttle response is spiky but the ESP and electronically-controlled limited-slip differential are tuned to allow beautiful over-rotations of the rear tyres on exit that totally flatter the driver, even in torrential rain. Additionally, the GT3 car-inspired traction control can be dialled through several levels of slip all the way to ‘Wet’ mode which allows very liberal throttle inputs as the C8 just sorts it all out.

So while you may not have adaptive cruise control or reverse AEB (the Corvette does have front AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind-spot monitoring and fairly good visibility for this type of vehicle) it does have multi-stage traction control and an exhaust loud enough to scare children out of the driveway tout de suite.

Drivability scorecard
Power & performance
9.0
Ride & refinement
9.0
Handling
9.5
Safety
8.0

How is the Corvette Stingray C8’s interior?

If the Corvette’s sense of occasion is strong from behind the tiller, the steering wheel is peculiar. It’s as though Chevrolet’s designers thought they might be able to get away with a Tesla-style yoke wheel but backed out at the last second. The result is a lot of vertical Alcantara-clad surface to hold which while odd in theory, in practice (and combined with the C8’s pointy rack) it makes sense.

Chevrolet Corvette 2022-11

There are buttons on the steering wheel for the ‘Z’ mode and infotainment shortcuts but they don’t get in your way mid-corner – it’s a polished and friendly user experience.

‘Ergonomic’ may be overselling the Corvette’s cabin though, with the HVAC controls lining the red leather-appointed ridge that separates driver from passenger takes some getting-used to, but there’s no doubt it adds to the sense of occasion and visual interest here.

The same can’t be said of the fighter jet inspired button gear selectors which are both easy to interact with and so cool, giving Top Gun vibes every time you turn the ’Vette on. The 8.0-inch touchscreen in the centre is canted towards the driver and is reasonably responsive. As a bonus, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connect wirelessly when you jump in and the 14-speaker Bose sound system does a good job covering the road noise.

Chevrolet Corvette 2022-14

Speaking of stepping in, this has been a fairly consistent bugbear for low-slung sports cars. Notably Lotusses – we haven’t tried the new Emira yet, but the method of bonded aluminium construction used in Evoras and Elises has always meant getting in the British sports cars is never as graceful as you’d hope.

Chevrolet has paid attention to this from the outset of Corvette design, shifting many of the load bearing elements to the centre of the car (dubbed ‘The Spine’) to create stiffness in the body shell. This means the sills are surprisingly low and (once you figure out where the door handles are) the bucket seats are relatively easy to clamber into, even more so with the targa roof stored in the boot.

And when you sit in the seats – wow. Our 3LT was fitted with an extended leather package as standard and optional Competition bucket seats ($7200) that hug your ribs and anchor you down excellently, with the firm base providing excellent amplification of what’s going on underneath you. Make sure you have a sit in several Corvette seats before ordering as the more ample GT2 seats will suit those with larger frames.

Chevrolet Corvette 2022-13

Practicality is a strong point for the Corvette in this class with cup holders and a neat wireless charger between the seats. Moving to a mid-engined layout means that there are no ‘plus-two’ seats but Chevrolet made sure to retain the ability to fit two sets of golf clubs in the rear luggage compartment. There’s also a handy front boot, the combined luggage capacity is 357L – way more than a Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport Hybrid.

Interior scorecard
Layout & materials
8.5
Cabin technology
8.0
Driver comfort
9.0
Passenger space
7.5

What are the Corvette Stingray C8’s running costs?

With petrol prices continuing to skyrocket despite the Federal Government cutting fuel excise, a V8 sports car doesn’t sound like the greatest idea if money’s tight. The Corvette does not have an official combined ADR consumption figure. Our test saw the Corvette return 12L/100km though, which is pretty impressive.

A lot of the Corvette’s efficiency comes down to its ability to deactivate cylinders and run in V4-configuration in low-load scenarios. Additionally, when you lay into the power available the Corvette can only guzzle so much 95 RON unleaded, unlike turbo vehicles which can really spike in fuel consumption through extended full-throttle running.

Chevrolet Corvette 2022-7

Servicing is required every 12 months/12,000km and GMSV/Chevrolet is yet to release capped-price servicing for the Corvette.

In Australia, the C8 Corvette is covered by a three-year/100,000km warranty which is on par with the Porsche 911 and 718, though unlike the German brand cannot be extended.

Running costs scorecard
Consumption
Good
Servicing
Average
Warranty
Average

The final verdict

If you want a sense of occasion in your life that’s unmatched without totally breaking the bank, then in North America the Corvette has always been a good shout. And now, with a factory-built right-hook car, Australians get to share the same experience without having to jump through importing, conversion and insurance hoops.

Arguably the Corvette’s best facet is that (although excellent), the 6.2-litre ‘LT2’ V8 is actually not the star of the show – does that mean the Corvette has truly ditched its muscle car reputation and earned supercar stripes?

I think so, it’s no longer all muscle: the ’Vette is a well-balanced, approachable coupe and, in 3LT guise (perhaps with the squishier GT2 seats installed), a fantastic grand tourer.

Yes I’d love it if the engine revved higher and faster, and perhaps the front end had a hint more bite for future track use, but that’s what the already-confirmed Z06 is for, so bring it on.

Overall rating
Overall rating
8.5
Drivability
9.0
Interior
8.5
Running costs
Average
Overall rating
8.5
Drivability
9.0
Interior
8.5
Running costs
Average

Variant tested 3LT

$160,500
Details
Options fitted
Black Accent Package
$1,950
Leather Interior Pack Leather Seats - Premium
$7,020
Approximate on‑road price Including registration and government charges
$178,088

Key specs (as tested)

Engine
Capacity
6162 cc
Cylinders
v8
Power
369kW at 6450rpm
Torque
637Nm at 5150rpm
Power to weight ratio
242kW/tonne
Fuel
Fuel type
Petrol
Fuel capacity
70 litres
Drivetrain
Transmission
Automatic
Drivetrain
Rear Wheel Drive
Gears
8
Dimensions
Length
4630 mm
Width
1934 mm
Height
1234 mm
Unoccupied weight
1527 kg

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