When General Motors engineers and designers were contemplating the eighth-generation Corvette coupe, they broke the mold that had shaped Corvettes since the first one rolled off a Flint, MI, assembly line in 1953.
For the first 66 years, Corvettes were motivated by engines in front of the driver. The newest Corvette puts the small-block V-8 right behind the driver in a mid-engine configuration that improves forward visibility and overall handling while providing formidable competition for exotic mid-engine Ferraris and Lamborghinis.
Likewise, the new Corvette Stingray represented an opportunity for the Chevrolet design team to reimagine the cockpit of the iconic two-seater, a 2020 Wards 10 Best Interiors winner.
A passerby need only look through the window to recognize the latest Corvette interior takes a monumental leap in styling, quality and materials relative to past efforts.
A driver lucky enough to climb behind the wheel will determine immediately the groundbreaking achievement of this new Corvette interior: the premium leather-wrapped instrument panel, the tastefully applied carbon-fiber trim, the handsomely configured push-button transmission that saves precious room in the center console and the microsuede used generously on the instrument panel, center console, door trim, steering wheel, headliner and pillar trim.
“There are lots of different materials employed here, which can easily turn into a mish-mash. But GM achieved great harmony between the metal, plastic, carbon fiber and microsuede. Well done,” writes juror James Amend on his scoresheet.
Judge Dave Zoia praises the Corvette for achieving excellent color matching across different materials in a heavily monochromatic caramel color scheme (marketed as Natural Dipped at Chevy showrooms).
Perhaps the most jarring image inside the new Vette is the loooong singular row of climate-control buttons that extend like a ski slope from the top of the instrument panel all the way down to the driver’s right elbow.
Some might question the wisdom of establishing an unusually high wall between driver and passenger. But the design serves to envelop the driver in what feels like a high-performance cocoon.
Still, the driver does not feel penned in and all controls are ergonomically accessible. “It’s the comfiest Corvette yet,” Amend says.
Quality materials and craftsmanship reveal themselves as the eye scans the Corvette interior, from the gunmetal volume knob to the upper left of the central display screen and the artfully stitched microsuede inside the removable hardtop to the brushed aluminum pedals and the leather applied to the bottom of the door panel – a place where lower-grade plastic often resides in a bid to save money.
Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter insisted no corners be cut in building the new Corvette interior, and for that we thank him.
Premium mid-engine sports cars come with a steep price tag, but the Corvette manages to arrive with a reasonable $60,000 starting price.
Our ’20 Stingray coupe stickered for $78,820, with $1,500 for interior carbon fiber, $595 for the microsuede heated steering wheel and $11,950 for the 3LT Premium Equipment package that includes Bose premium sound, Chevy’s latest infotainment navigation system, head-up display, performance data and video recorder, heated and ventilated GT2 power bucket seats, wireless phone charging, certain driver-assistance technologies and a rear camera mirror (important for improving outward visibility).
Sure, you can pay more for a Corvette, but you should be impressed with whichever interior you choose. A number of bold colors are available, such as Adrenaline Red, Morello Red (burgundy) and Twilight / Tension Blue.
The black and gray interior options are fetching as well, and three seat types are offered, depending on how aggressively the car will be driven. The perforation pattern on the seats, by the way, fans out like the wings of a butterfly or, better yet, the Corvette logo.
A 495-hp small-block V-8 roaring within inches of the driver’s right ear should cause all sorts of clatter and discomfort inside the new Corvette, but the cabin stays remarkably quiet, even at high rpm. Excellent sound management was one of several reasons the Vette earned a Wards 10 Best Engines & Propulsion Systems trophy earlier this year.
Launching the all-new Corvette has been extremely difficult. A 2019 United Auto Workers strike set back the start of manufacturing in Bowling Green, KY, by several months, and then COVID-19 shut down the operation yet again.
In the first quarter, GM sold 3,820 Corvettes, most of them new C8s. Without further disruptions, demand for the new model should be brisk.
The first-rate interior will drive as much demand for the car as its powertrain, handling and curb appeal. To borrow a phrase from “Top Gun,” the sexy, alluring exterior is writing checks this dramatic interior is fully capable of cashing.