With its long-awaited mid-engine platform, the Chevrolet Corvette C8 is a major step forward for “America’s Sports Car.” But not every aspect of the eighth-generation Corvette is ideal for enthusiasts. Jason Fenske of Engineering Explained looked at five “flaws” of the C8 Corvette, and why fans may be wrong to complain about them.
The first item on the list is the C8 Corvette’s brake-by-wire system. Because it eliminates the mechanical connection between the driver’s foot and the brakes, you might think brake-by-wire is out of place in a sports car. But this system also allowed engineers to add a feature called “e-boost,” which can brake the car to a stop using an electric pump even when the brake fluid has boiled. The pump builds more air pressure than your foot can when air is in the line and brings the car to a stop when the pressure from your foot can’t.
On a related note, the C8 Corvette actually has a longer stopping distance than its predecessor, the C7. In Motor Trend tests, the C8’s stopping distance was seven feet longer than the C7’s. That’s largely because engineers were more interested in tuning the C8’s brakes for quick lap times than the shortest-possible stopping distance. Engineers actually limited the braking force on the rear wheels because too much force can make the rear end “twitchy” when setting up for a corner, Fenske said.
2020 Chevrolet Corvette
Many reviews of the C8 Corvette have complained about understeer. As with the brakes, this was an intentional choice, Fenske said. This is the first production mid-engine Corvette and that, combined with the car’s relatively low price tag, means it’s more likely to be bought by people who have never driven a mid-engine car before. Understeer is safer, helping to ensure inexperienced drivers don’t pitch their cars into a tree. Chevy also has recommended spring, camber, and tire-pressure settings for track use. As we saw in a ride with an engineer in our first drive review, a skilled driver can kick out the tail and drive the car on the rear wheels.
In an age of turbocharging, four valves per cylinder, and overhead cam engines, the Corvette’s naturally-aspirated LT4 6.2-liter pushrod V-8 may seem like an anachronism. But there’s nothing wrong with a pushrod engine, Fenske said. They’re simple, compact, and can produce plenty of power. With the optional Z51 package, the C8 Corvette boasts 495 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque, allowing it do 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds, according to Chevy.
Finally, the C8 Corvette comes standard with all-season tires, which don’t seem appropriate for a supercar-baiting performance vehicle. Yet those Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4 tires can generate up to 1.0 G in cornering, and 1.07 G in braking on a rough road, Fenske said. Yet they are still all-seasons, with longer tread life and better grip on less-than-ideal surfaces than summer tires. Not much of a compromise, really. However, anyone who wants summer performance tires can choose the Z51 Performance package that comes with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires.
For a deeper dive into each of Jason’s five points, click out the video above.