Calendar year 2021 technically marked a second 12-month period for Chevrolet to mark a knockout blow with the eighth-generation Corvette. But only modest changes followed the base 2020 redesign that turned America’s favorite sports car into a true mid-engined supercar, with additional color options and Apple CarPlay hitting the C8, plus more. trim levels receiving the popular Magnetic Ride suspension system.
And yet the Corvette C8 still wins HotCars top prize for Best American Sports Car of 2021, as no other manufacturer could match a mid-mounted naturally aspirated V8 in a lightweight package, all from priced at around $ 60,000. To be fair, in the middle of 2021, GM increased the price from $ 1,000 to $ 60,995. Yet all the different Mustangs, Chargers, Challengers, and even the Chevrolet Camaro fall short of the performance potential of the 2021 Corvette.
Second year of C8
Mounted behind the passenger cockpit, the C8’s 6.2-liter naturally aspirated V8 engine produces 490 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque (or 495 horsepower and 470 lb-ft when equipped with the Z51 package which adds more cooling and sports exhaust components). That growl only goes to the rear wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters.
Of course, a peak of 495 ponies looks pretty tame compared to Dodge’s Challengers and Chargers in Hellcat Redeye specs, with their supercharged Hemis putting out a ridiculous 797 horsepower and 707 lb-ft of torque. But even the two-door Challenger weighs over 1,000 pounds more than the low-profile Corvette, while the benefits of mid-engine weight distribution translate into more predictable performance when accelerating, cornering and braking. .
A modern, mid-engined American icon
The only two potential complaints about the Corvette C8 relate to that dual-clutch gearbox – or, more precisely, the lack of a manual transmission – and the car’s angular exterior design. To be fair, the C8 looks like an entirely new car with very little callback to its C7 and earlier front-engined predecessors, so Chevrolet might have avoided controversy by simply naming it something else. But after so many different mid-engined concepts bearing the Corvette’s nameplate over the decades, the eventual production car had to hit public roads before electrification removed the possibility of installing a conventional V8 in the middle. of the ship – and yet a clearer line to the Corvette’s solid design history would have come a long way.
Adjustment and modification of the C8
The incredible price tag makes the eighth generation popular among tuners and modders who want this mid-engined layout and see the LT2 V8 as just a starting point for real performance in the new chassis. A quick trip to SEMA proves how much of Chevy’s covetable recipe has found its way into the aftermarket industry, where another slammed, bagged, widebody, turbocharged, or supercharged C8 has popped up in almost every booth. .
But few have achieved the same kind of fame as Emelia Hartford, a YouTube influencer who set numerous world records in the year 2021 in her twin-turbo C8 dubbed Phoenix. Many of his videos have revealed the enormous difficulties involved in extracting reliable power from the LT2, which is why more mass-produced twin-turbo versions like Hennessey Performance have taken (or are still taking) longer than expected. . The ECU coding and the reliability of the dual-clutch gearbox seem to be the main concerns.
The Z06 finally appears
And GM never planned to let the C8 sing a swan song for the Corvette without more powerful variants hitting the road – the challenges of a global pandemic have simply delayed the supercharged, twin-turbo Corvettes almost indefinitely. hybrids or all-wheel drive. But as 2021 drew to a close, Chevrolet unveiled the new Corvette Z06 to the public, which will debut as a 2023 model year with a sleek exterior hiding the highest naturally aspirated V8 ever installed in a road car. .
The new 5.5-liter LT6 from Chevy’s C8.R race car (which really served as a test bed for the Z06’s many performance upgrades) produces a superb 670 horsepower with a red line of 8,600 rpm. Again, no manual options will be available, but suddenly the Corvette Z06 looks set to eclipse not only previous versions of the ZR1 in terms of performance, but even the Ford GT supercar.
As electrification raises its head and renders 0-60 times obsolete thanks to the torque available instantly, Dodge looks set to ditch internal combustion altogether for muscle cars. And so, the serious question remains whether the LT6 could make history as the world’s largest V8 ever built, especially if Chevrolet can figure out how not to lose money with every unit sold below 100,000. $ (good luck finding one at this price, though).
Finalist: Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
Even with all the accolades of the 2021 Corvette and the prospect of bigger and worse versions from aftermarket makers and future factory Chevrolet projects, the C8’s 2021 Best American Sports Car title still stands. almost went to Ford’s Mustang Shelby GT500. And that’s because the new GT500 received a supercharged 5.2-liter V8, making it the most powerful Mustang ever. Again, did we hit the Mustang peak before the transition to strictly Mach-E production?
Shelby American has taken it one step further with the recent reveal of a new King of the Road, which will go on sale in 2022 for the third time only in Shelby or Ford’s long and rich partnership, building on popularity. from 1968 and 2007/8 editions. Maybe one day in the future, looking back 54 years (or even 14 years, if that pace continues), the auto industry will now see the pinnacle of the Corvette and Mustang – we couldn’t not leave out the GT500, so we gave this our award for the best muscle car of 2021 alongside the C8 as the best American sports car of the year.
Sources: chevrolet.com, ford.com and shelby.com.
The Corvette’s ideal setup remains a matter of debate after production models switch to a mid-engined format for 2020.
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