Let’s define supercar versus sportscar: the Ferrari F8 Tributo, Lamborghini Huracan, and Acura NSX are supercar examples, and all carry six-digit MSRPs. More affordable sportscars include Nissan’s 370Z, the Toyota Supra, and Mazda’s MX5 Miata. Prior to Corvette’s eighth generation, the C8, America’s favorite pure sportscar could compete with supercars in raw performance, but not in finesse.
Corvette engineers, beginning with Zora Arkus-Duntov and his first prototype in the 1950s, have wanted to place the driver just ahead of the engine, not behind it. But that layout nearly always incurs additional complexity and cost, and usually sacrifices practical attributes like luggage space. Besides, the old front-engine, rear-drive layout has served the brand well throughout its nearly seven decades.
The 2021 C8 Corvette moves the cockpit 16.5 inches forward on a new, longer wheelbase to keep the driver in the center of the chassis. Entrance and exit shed door handles in lieu of hidden electric buttons, and stepover is aided by slim rocker panels since the center tunnel backbone provides superb stiffness.
The layout is driver-centric with greater visibility over the shorter hood, and that’s enhanced with small HVAC vents and switchgear that’s been moved to a swooping cabin divider. A squared-off, race-style steering wheel enhances visibility to both the road as well as a large, new, customizable instrument cluster that makes a statement about Corvette’s technology. Of the new tech features I was dying to try, the suspension height adjustment was high on the list. Although it worked as promised, its ability to store the mapped settings cropped up on the screen, but no matter how I fiddled with inputs, it alluded my save command. If only they had just left the car with me for another week.
The Driving Experience
My first impression is that despite the better road visibility that’s expected from a mid-engine sportscar with a quickly sloping hood, this seems like a big Corvette. That impression was confirmed when I parked the C8 in our garage. It’s longer, wider, a bit lower, and heavier than previous models. So, I didn’t expect it to have the lightning quick reflexes of a McLaren 570S, but then, you can buy three C8s for the price of one McLaren.
On the road, the bit of extra heft dissolves with the help of 495 horses and quick steering to point this beautifully balanced Corvette just where you want it. A launch to 60 arrives in under three seconds, and that eye-peeling performance is a safety feature when passing is required.
When you’re simply enjoying the drive — an activity most adults who like to stay out of traffic court indulge in — the C8 becomes a great grand touring machine. We stowed the hard top for a lovely cruise down the coast and enjoyed high-res streaming music through the car’s 4G Wi-Fi and the 14-speaker Bose Performance audio system. This is a supercar that can do it all.
2021 C8 Corvette
Type: Mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive
Engine: 6.2-liter V8
Horsepower: 495 @ 6,450-RPM
Torque: 470 lb.ft. @ 5,150-RPM
Base Price: $58,900
As Tested: $78,265
Fuel Consumption: 15-city, 27-highway, 19-combined