From its dream-car debut in 1953 at the Motorama show at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, the Chevrolet Corvette has kept its engine up front, where sports-car tradition says it belongs.
But with sales of many fast, fun cars on the wane — blame the rise of dully practical S.U.V.s, an aging boomer audience or a declining car culture — the Corvette’s creators saw the need for a radical about-face. The 2020 Corvette Stingray has moved its engine behind the driver and passenger, adopting the physics-approved layout that brought Ferdinand Porsche his first racing successes in the 1930s. Today, this approach is associated with money-torching supercars from Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren.
The long-awaited “mid-engine” Corvette easily outruns its formidable predecessor, as I learned during a time-warping desert drive near Tortilla Flat, Ariz. The eighth-generation “C8” Corvette is earning rapturous reviews and dominating industry awards, as a car that can take on European exotics that cost $200,000 and more, but at a $59,995 base price that reads like a misprint.
“It’s certainly a great moment in the car business,” said Eddie Alterman, chief brand officer for Hearst Autos and a former editor in chief of Car and Driver. “It’s nothing less than the democratization of the supercar.”
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