Sea Monster

by Petrol Mum
C8 Corvette near ocean

For the first time ever, the Corvette Stingray in factory right hand drive is available to purchase in Australia and New Zealand. The eighth-generation Corvette or C8 is the most technologically advanced Corvette ever produced, giving this Corvette the performance to match the looks it has had for decades.

As a teenage girl my dream car was a 1978 Corvette Stingray in red, but sadly I never bought one and up until a couple of weeks ago I had never even driven a Corvette. My first impression was that the C8 looked smaller in real life. This 3LT Coupe certainly turned a lot of heads in this configuration of Rapid Blue (never has a paint colour name been more apt) with dual black racing stripes. The angles on the front splitter, side air intakes and back end are extreme, but suit the aggressive potential of this Stingray.   

Lurking below the surface of the C8 Corvette is a 6.2 litre V8 naturally aspirated LT2 engine that has been mid-mounted giving it the C8 a 40:60 front to rear weight distribution. The result is extremely enjoyable for the driver, who sits low in the cabin, enabling them to feel what the Corvette is doing through their bottom. Assisted by the Electronic Limited Slip Differential (part of the Z51 Performance Package) this is a predictable step sideways under hard straight-line acceleration and a controllable angle out of the corners, leaving you with a beaming smile on your face.

Press the start button and a loud bark emits from the exhaust before the engine settles to a gentle rumble. The small Aluminium block V8 engine has up to 369 kW of power and 637 Nm of torque with an instant throttle response and linear acceleration until you reach the 6,500rpm red line. Chasing the speed in the Corvette meant my fuel use was going to be high, so I was not surprised when I calculated it to be 19.0L/100km.  

The engine is an integral part of your Corvette driving experience not just because of the power it offers, but visually and aurally as well. From the outside you can see the beautifully presented engine through the clear engine cover and while driving when you look over your shoulder you can see it though the clear glass. Apply the accelerator and you will be seduced by the V8 serenading you like a Siren from the depths of the ocean.

For a surround sound experience the Stingray coupe features a lightweight, easily removable roof panel that can be stowed in the rear boot, so you can take your top off whenever the mood grabs you. On my Corvette this Targa top was transparent and I found that although you could remove the roof by yourself, it is best to do it with two people so you don’t accidently drop it.

The nature of the Corvette is controlled by turning the rotary Drive Mode Selector located under the leather palm rest on the centre console. The six drive modes are Tour, Sport, Track, Weather, My Mode and Z Mode with the latter two being customisable. Under My Mode you can adjust the steering, suspension, brake feel and engine sound. In addition to these adjustments Z mode, which is engaged by pressing the Z button on the steering wheel, also allows you to adjust the engine/gear change and the Performance Traction Management (PTM). In the Race 1 & 2 settings under the PTM ESC is off and in Sport, Dry or Wet the ESC remains on. I respected the power of the C8 and was happy to leave the ESC on because like the Stingray in the ocean the C8 could go from placid to fierce with just a flick.

To help train yourself to be a better the C8 Corvette has a Performance Data Recorder. When activated, it logs video of your drive onto an SD memory card. Three modes allow you to capture video, audio, driving stats, date and time, and much more. A fourth, Valet Mode, can record the activity of your car when you’re not around.

Both the 2LT and 3LT variants available in Australia and New Zealand come standard with the Z51 Performance Package. The package includes Magnetic Selective Ride Control Performance Suspension with Performance Traction Management and Manually Adjustable Suspension. As you progress through the drive modes the suspension becomes noticeably stiffer thanks to the magnetised ferrous particles in the shock fluid. Tour mode is perfectly comfortable for long drives, Sport mode is a happy medium and Track mode is most suited to the smooth surface of a race track.

I found the feel of the speed-sensitive magnetic power steering with variable ratio very perceptive and I liked that it became firmer as I moved up the driving modes. The racing-style steering wheel has metal paddle shifters for sharp manual changes up and down the 8-speed dual-clutch transmission or you can just leave it in automatic mode. The 12-inch digital driver’s dash has graphics that change depending on your selected driving mode. While the Head-Up Display offers three distinct views for Tour, Sport and Track modes.

The Performance Package also includes Michelin Pilot Sport 4S Performance Tyres 245/35ZR19 on the front and whopping 305/30ZR20s on the rear that really look the part when you view the Corvette from behind. The backend is further enhanced by the carbon fibre rear spoiler, performance exhaust with stainless steel tips and I love the Stingray on the boot lid.

Stopping power comes a from 345 mm front and 350 mm rear Brembo E-Boost Assisted Disc Brakes with 4-piston/two-piece front calipers and 4-piston/monoblock rear calipers. My track time with the C8 Corvette back in March demonstrated that this brake package aided by the front and rear brake cooling inlets worked well as Paul Morris pounded around the Norwell track lap after lap.

The 3LT comes with the custom Leather-Wrapped Interior Package including leather-wrapped upper instrument panel, door trim panels and console. Even though the Corvette I drove had over 23,000km on the odometer the cabin still had the aroma of expensive leather. The 3LT also gets the Sueded Microfibre-Wrapped Interior Package covering the headliner, visor, trim above windshield and rear window, and A-pillar trim in colour-keyed sueded microfibre that feels special when you slide your hands over it.

These Sky Cool Grey Napa leather Competition Sport seats provide thigh and waist hugging support, with a performance textile in high-wear areas. Both of the seats have power adjustment for recline, forward/back, seat height front and rear, side bolster and 2-way lumbar support with the driver’s seat getting two memory positions. The seats in my Corvette were also heated and cooled with the cooling operation being a little noisy when it operates. The steering wheel is heated as well, something that you will appreciate on a cold winter’s day.

The cabin of the C8 Corvette is very driver focused with all of the dual-zone climate controls within easy reach along the centre spine and the 8-inch infotainment touch-screen angled toward the driver. To help you keep your eyes on the road there is a button on the steering wheel, which has a masculine looking silhouette on it, that activates voice control, . I found that the voice control worked well for making phone calls, changing the radio station and setting a destination on the sat nav.

Like most supercars storage in the Corvette is at a premium. You do get two cup holders in the centre console, one deeper with the other and both with a removable rubber mat in the base for easy cleaning. In the doors there is a shallow cubby suitable for your sunglasses or purse and under the arm rest there is a felt-lined cubby with one USB-A port, one USB-C port and an AUX inlet. Between the seats there is a slot for your phone with wireless charging, wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto, which connected easily. The 14-speaker Bose sound system deserves a special mention because it will outcompete the V8 engine if you turn it up loud enough.

For convenience the front splitter has a lift kit with a memory function so that you can save your driveway or some other frequently used location and the system remembers to lift the nose there. You can also engage the front cameras by pressing a button on the centre console so that you can see directly in front of the Corvette. Your rear sight lines are equally as impressive, thanks to the Rear Camera Mirror that can be turned on or off. For further help reversing you get a standard rear-view camera with rear park assist.

There are two boots in the Corvette one at the front and one behind the engine at the rear. In addition to holder the Targa top the rear boot can also fit two golf bags according the GM. The front boot could hold the shopping or some luggage if you were heading for a weekend away. The boots can be opened from buttons in the cabin, on the key fob or under the rear boot lid and under the front splitter on the passenger side for the frunk.

The C8 Corvette does not have an ANCAP safety rating, however it does come with driver and passenger frontal and seat-mounted side-impact with Passenger Sensing System. Driver aids are limited to Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Alert and standard cruise control.

All new GM Specialty Vehicles sold in Australia and New Zealand come with a 3-years or 100,000km’s (whichever occurs first) warranty and 3-years Roadside Ultra Assistance. The C8 Corvette has been designed for track use in mind, but before you head to the track it is recommended that you go through the Track Preparation set up for the vehicle. Track events or competitive driving may affect the vehicle warranty.

Has it been worth the 25+ year wait for me to drive this creature from the sea? Yes, it has! The C8 Corvette is a supercar in every sense of the word and truly special in every way. With around six Corvettes available from each Australian GM Specialty Vehicle dealer per year the wait may be a little long, but I think it would be worth it to have this American icon in your garage. The C8 Corvette Stingray 3LT Coupe is priced from $175,500 excluding on-road costs.

The naturally aspirated V8 engineNoisy operation of seat cooling
The exterior looksLimited availability
The removable roof that can be stored in the bootThere isn’t one in my garage

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.

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