Every decade or so, a new model comes along and challenges the way we look at sports and supercars.
The Lamborghini Miura introduced the rear mid-engine layout and gave us the low-slung silhouette that we have come to love. The Ferrari F40 was built like a race car and was the first production car to break the 200mph barrier. The Honda NSX spawned the idea that a supercar should be friendly to drive. The McLaren F1 revolutionized performance and exclusivity, arguably becoming the first hypercar.
Back in July, Chevrolet brought us the latest game changer – the C8 Corvette.
As time has passed, my thoughts on the matter seemed to reach a boiling point. Notably, all of these prior game changers brought something unique to the table, whereas you could argue that the C8 doesn’t really stand out in any way.
This is partly thanks to the sports and supercar market being insane right now. Every option available from the Nissan GT-R to the Audi R8 or the McLaren 570S offers excellent performance, exotic aesthetics, and great drivability.
All of these cars are ‘better’ than the C8 in many ways.
The difference between these cars and the C8 is that while most supercars are reserved for the lucky few that can afford them, the C8 will be truly attainable.
It has excellent performance, killer looks, and is usable every day. The R35 GT-R used to be considered a real performance bargain, but the base 2020 GT-R costs $54,000 more than the base C8.
Another comparison could be made to the first-generation NSX — the original everyday supercar had an MSRP of $62,000 in 1991. If we adjust the C8’s $59,000 for inflation, it comes in at under $32,000 – less than half of what the NSX sold for. For ultimate comparison, the C8 starts at almost $98,000 less than the entry level 2020 Acura NSX.
You’re talking about a car with 495hp, an 8-speed DCT, forged aluminum double wishbone suspension, and exotic looks for nearly the same price as a Porsche Cayman.
The Corvette has historically offered the best high performance value, punching above its weight and providing supercar specs at a fraction of the price is trademark Corvette. Despite this, it has never been able to shake the stigma of being owned by elderly gentlemen sporting gold chains and New Balance dad shoes. It offered the performance, but it never had the look.
Park a Corvette and a Ferrari next to a group of kids, and it’s obvious which one captures the imagination. The Corvette was great on paper but lacked that certain something.
I have personally had these feelings, too. I respect how much potential the Corvette has on track, and often recommended them to friends looking for a fast and affordable car, but I would have never considered owning one myself. Its performance potential was often overshadowed by the idea that the Corvette was an old man’s car. Fast, but not for me.
The C8 Corvette has shattered this perception. On the day it was revealed there was a frenzy of social media posts; my feeds were filled with enthusiasm for the all new mid-engine Corvette. Many claimed they were going to buy them, and I have already heard from friends that have reserved their C8.
A couple of days ago I saw some hardcore Honda guys sharing pictures of a C8 that they went to check out at a local dealer. I’ve been a car enthusiast for as long as I can remember, and I have never seen a reaction to a sports car like this. Overnight, Chevrolet has changed the way people look at Corvettes.
On a personal level, I wasn’t expecting much from the mid-engine Corvette. Other than the spy videos of Pratt & Miller testing the C8R race car, I didn’t think twice about it. Needless to say, I was shocked when I started seeing the trickle of photos and information as the C8 was unveiled.
It instantly captured my attention and became the first attainable car in years that I’ve desired. I found myself on the configurator choosing colors and options for ‘my’ C8. I was eating up the C8 hype. I even gave it a few weeks, but the desire to own one hasn’t gone away.
More importantly, I have no doubt that the C8 will perform. Chevrolet has too much riding on this, and they have been developing the car for years. It will have the performance and now it has the look, that extra something it was missing.
We’ve established what makes the C8 exciting; the stats, stories, and photos have been going around for weeks. What really stands out to me though, isn’t how good the C8 is going to be, but what it means to the future of sports cars. This is where the game changer aspect comes into play.
Much like the NSX, I’m convinced the C8 is going to change what we expect from a sports car. The NSX made supercars reliable, drivable, and well thought-out. Chevrolet has made its mark by raising the bar: It has taken the affordable sports car segment and turned it to 11. Supercar levels of performance and looks, on a mass-produced platform at a reasonable price.
We have already seen the comparisons with the new Supra. I’ve read countless ‘RIP Supra’, ‘all Supra orders have been canceled’ and ‘C8 > Supra’ posts.
While both of those cars are great and cater to a different market, it is a comparison that we are going to start seeing with just about every sports car. “Why buy such and such when you can just get a C8,” is going to be the question asked of any new sports car. It appears many people have already asked that question and answered by reserving a C8.
There are reports that the entire first year of C8 production is almost sold out. Other manufacturers know this, and they will have to respond. Their cars will have to stand out or be better in order to compete, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the lasting impact of the C8 Corvette will be.
It’s that impact coupled with the looks and the performance that have me sold.
I have never said this about a domestic car, but one day I will have a C8 in the garage.
Undoubtedly lowered on RAYS wheels and with aftermarket aero.
Photos by Trevor Yale Ryan