Why The C8 Corvette Stingray Is Actually A Very Practical Car
Without a doubt, most guys are looking at the all-new Corvette as an aspirational toy that they dream of one day being able to enjoy driving. However, unlike its more expensive cousins, Corvette is a shockingly practical car too. To explore this side, we drove it around San Diego for a week earlier this fall including trips to the beach, grocery shopping, and simply around town on our normal daily chores.
One thing you'll notice in these photos that somewhat dates the article is that the air is filled with smoke. Unfortunately, this is sometimes an unavoidable part of living in California but I think it ultimately gives it a pretty cool effect even if it isn't the beautiful sunshine drenched beaches and palm trees that you might otherwise expect.
Driving the 2020 C8 Corvette around town was an experience in itself. I've had the fortune to review many different cars and trucks over the past several years and NONE have attracted as much attention as the 2020 Corvette 3LT Coup. Some folks recognized it immediately and other folks simply wanted to know, "what is that!?!". The reaction was a bit eiry in some ways when folks would pull next to us at a stoplight, roll the window down, and then ask questions but I suppose that's just how things are when you are driving a vehicle as distinctive as this is. This behavior wasn't limited to just other normal drivers on the road though ... at one point I got VERY NERVOUS when a San Diego police car followed me through town. I thought perhaps I had turned improperly or exceeded the speed limit somewhere. Nope. He simply wanted to get an opportunity to pull next to me and look down into the vehicle at a stoplight.
These are all things I somewhat expected to experience, as is the speed and handling. We're going to cover the performance side of the Corvette as well. For now though, let's focus on how the Corvette performs as a practical car that you can drive around town.
Speed Bumps and Driveway Lips
This is a vehicle tuned for the track. As such, you'd obviously want it to be as low as possible to the ground. A tight suspension combined with being very low to the ground sounds like a disaster for entering and exiting driveways and even worse for speedbumps. Luckily the engineers at Chevy thought about this and added the ability to raise and lower the vehicle's front suspension by 1.57 inches. This certainly isn't going to allow you to sail over them like you were driving a Silverado, but it does allow you to pass over bumps and difficult driveways without scraping the bottom - assuming you do so gently.
What's even better is that you can train the car to remember where these obstacles are and it will automatically adjust the vehicle for you.
One of the more interesting design quirks of the Corvette design has been teh requirement that you be able to store golf clubs in the cargo space. While the C8 is somewhat smaller than the C7, you can still do this while also being able to store a carryon bag or duffle in the front trunk aka the "frunk". In our test we lined up grocery totes and were able to fit 4 bags comfortably. However, with the Targa top removed and stored in this space, that room goes down considerably and while there is still "room" ... I would be nervous about packing it too tightly and risk scratching the roof panels.
While the C7 had a volume of 15 cubic feet, the C8 offers a combined total of 12.6 which is still pretty good compared to the McLaren 570s at only 5 cubic feet for example.
Driver and Passenger Comfort
There's no way around the fact that the Corvette is a sleek, low riding, sport car designed for maximum performance and the lowest weight possible. Despite this, even as a big guy, I was able to fit in the vehicle well and drive comfortably next to my wife. Headroom was a bit of a challenge in some situations though but manageable.
The only element that was uncomfortable when driving more than 20 minutes was the seat. In the vehicle that we were provided, it was outfitted with the Competition Sport seat with more aggressive bolsters designed to hold your body in place. Unfortunately as a big guy, that made it rather uncomfortable compared to how I imagine the GT1 or even GT2 seat might have been. That being said, if I was driving in a more performance-minded situation or was 125 pounds then this might not be an issue.
Interior Quality and Style
There's no debate here as far as I'm concerned. Chevy hit it out of the ballpark here with both the quality of materials as well as the ability to customize the interior with little touches such as being able to have seatbelts that match the stitching for instance. While the interior might not be as nice as its competition from Ferrari and McLaren ... we're talking about a sub-$100,000 vehicle here, so what you are getting is simply remarkable.
Overall, what you'll find here is that while one can write the C8 Corvette off as simply a toy for guys going through a mid-life crisis or that aspirational vehicle that we dream of as boys and can finaly afford when we are in our 60s and 70s, the reality is much more complex. With a starting price of roughly $60,000 you can get a vehicle that has space to put bags for a weekend getaway, looks like a million dollars, and will be something you can enjoy ... even if it never touches the track or an open desert road with no cops for miles. While I hope that anyone who spends the $80-90k for a fully-loaded Corvette ultimately has the opportunity to let it run and explore the limits of this vehicle, you don't have to.
- Written by James Hills
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