What Car? says...
The Chevrolet Corvette is a wildly popular sports car in America, but the idea of driving one in the UK has had limited appeal until recently because it only came in left-hand drive form.
Times are changing, though, and this eighth-generation Corvette – the C8 Stingray – can be had with the steering wheel on the right. Hallelujah!
That’s not all. To ensure it has the good manners to compete with its sophisticated European rivals, Chevrolet has based it on an entirely new platform and given it more power than ever before.
You can buy it as a coupé with a removable hardtop or as a dedicated convertible with an electrically retractable roof. That’s right, all Corvettes allow you to experience the wind in your hair – it's just what happens to the roof that changes.
The engine is now placed in the middle of the car, rather than up front under the bonnet. That’s a massive departure from the norm, especially when you consider that every Corvette since 1953 has been front-engined.
The surprises don’t stop there, either. Despite costing less than the BMW M4 Competition and Porsche 718 Cayman GT4, the standard car has a 475bhp, 6.2-litre naturally-aspirated V8 engine, a specially developed twin-clutch automatic gearbox, adaptively damped manually adjustable suspension and a Z51 Performance Package. It’s like eating at a Michelin-starred restaurant for American Diner prices.
To find out whether the Chevrolet Corvette feels as at home in Europe as it does in Utah, keep reading this comprehensive review. We'll cover performance, comfort, running costs and more, and tell you how it compares with the main rivals.
And if temptation gets the better of you, we can help you find Corvettes and many other models of car for the lowest prices available if you search our free What Car? New Car Deals pages. They have lots of the best new sports car deals.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Compared with American-spec Chevrolet Corvettes, the European models produce a little less power (475bhp rather than 495bhp) as a result of having to meet more stringent European emissions standards. That’s where the bad news both begins and ends, because European spec cars also come with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres that are grippier than the standard-fit rubber you get in the States.
We also get the Z51 Performance Package including in the price, and that introduces adjustable suspension, larger brakes, enhanced engine cooling, a performance exhaust and shorter gear ratios for faster acceleration. In other words, the kind of kit that would cost you a lot of money if you were buying a European-made sports car.
Before we dive into how the new mid-engined Corvette handles, we want to get back to that V8 engine. It’s the only naturally aspirated (i.e. non-turbocharged or supercharged) eight-cylinder engine in the Corvette’s class, and it adds a real element of theatre to the driving experience.
When you push the starter button, the engine bellows into life. The motor sits so close to your ear that you can hear the whirr of the belts and the growl of the performance exhaust. It’s also properly ‘old school’ in the way it delivers its power.
On a typical B-road, you can simply lock it in a high gear (when in manual mode) and rely on the never-ending swell of low-down grunt to power you from corner to corner. Making cross-country progress is effortless, unlike in the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4, a car that needs you to give its six-cylinder plenty of revs to truly come alive.
Of course, when you do give it the berries, it bellows like a Le Mans racer and delivers enough performance to get the heart racing. While some might bemoan the lack of a manual gearbox, the new eight-speed gearbox shifts ratios smoothly and quickly.
Speaking of the gearbox, sitting alongside the svelte gear selector buttons on the centre console is a BMW iDrive-style dial for scrolling through the six driving modes.
Weather mode dampens accelerator response and ramps up the traction control. Tour is essentially a Comfort mode and switches off half the cylinders when cruising. Sport sharpens up the accelerator and gearbox. Track firms up the steering and suspension.
My Mode allows you to customise the car’s parameters. Finally, there's a Z mode, which is activated with a button on the steering wheel. It firms everything up and also allows you to back off the traction control on a sliding scale, as you can in the BMW M4 Competition.
We spent most of our time flicking between Tour mode and Z mode and were struck at just how compliant the Corvette was in the former. Granted, our test car was fitted with the optional MagneRide adaptive dampers, but on battered urban roads, it rode better than many executive cars we’ve tried. Even in Z mode, the way the body deals with undulations is impressive.
As for the steering, it feels light, consistent and linear, which allows you to place the not insubstantial Corvette accurately on the way into, through, and out of a high-speed corner. With easy-to-modulate brakes and a beautifully neutral handling balance, it's both engaging and confidence-inspiring in a way you wouldn’t typically expect of a near-500bhp mid-engined sports car.
The interior layout, fit and finish
The Chevrolet Corvette has won plaudits over the years for its impressive performance, striking looks and competitive price, but it’s never been known for its build quality. Thankfully, that seems to be changing with the C8.
It has a fighter-jet style wraparound interior packed with modern technology and upmarket materials. Indeed, entry-level 2LT models come with leather throughout and 3LT trim upgrades that to Napa leather, and adds lots of suede on the dash and covering the strange square steering wheel.
By the way, the oddly-shaped wheel is actually quite a clever piece of design. The flat top frames the digital instruments perfectly, while the flat bottom provides more space for your legs. It feels surprisingly natural to hold.
Even the slightly eccentric button arrangement that runs the entire length of the centre console is easy to get used to. The higher-up buttons are reserved for the driver while the ones lower down are for their passenger. We certainly prefer it to the touchscreen-only interface on many new cars.
The Corvette comes as standard with an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen. It’s a pretty basic system with a straightforward user interface but fairly slow response times.
You get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring so you can use your phone’s apps instead of the built-in software. We like the way the screen is close to the steering wheel so you don’t have to reach far to hit your desired icon, and how it’s angled directly at the driver.
Audiophiles will also be pleased to learn a 14-speaker Bose sound system with active noise cancellation comes as standard.
As you might expect in a mid-engined sports car visibility isn't brilliant. The 'Vette have rather wide hips that can be hard to judge from behind the wheel, and the rear window is fairly small. Thankfully, as well as high-def front and rear cameras, it has a kerb-view camera and a digital rearview mirror.
There are three types of seat available – the GT1, GT2 and Competition Sport. We’re yet to try the GT1 and GT2, but have sampled the most performance-orientated Competition Sport seats and they’re as good as anything we’ve tried from BMW or Porsche. They have eight-way electric adjustment and sizeable side bolsters to hold you tight through bends. They even come with heating and ventilation as standard.
There is a ‘but’. If you like to sit low down, you might find that the slim-back Competition Sport seats don’t go quite low enough. You’ll feel more cocooned in the Audi R8 and Porsche 718 Cayman GT4.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
The Chevrolet Corvette’s electrically adjustable steering wheel offers plenty of adjustment and the interior is wide enough that you never brush elbows with whoever's sitting next to you. Headroom could be a little better, though. This is not due to a low roof, but the fact that the seats don’t drop very low.
There is, at least, a reasonable amount of storage space (for a sports car), including a decent-sized glovebox, a couple of cupholders and a wireless charging pad located between the front seats. The door pockets could do with being a little deeper but they’re easier to access than the ones in the Porsche Cayman GT4.
Being mid-engined, the Corvette has not one but two boots. While neither offers a massive amount of space, the front boot is deep and square, while the rear compartment is shallower but wider. We wouldn’t advise sticking your picnic in the back one, because it gets warm when the engine’s running for a long time. It is the perfect size for two sets of golf clubs or the Corvette Coupe’s removable hardtop roof, though.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
The entry-level Chevrolet Corvette undercuts both the BMW M4 Competition and Porsche 718 Cayman GT4, which is all the more remarkable when you consider how well equipped it is in its standard 2LT configuration.
Not only does the 2LT benefit from ‘go-faster’ goodies such as the Z51 Performance Package, but it also gets a heated steering wheel, electrically adjustable seats, a head-up display, a performance data recorder, a 14-speaker Bose stereo, a digital rearview camera and keyless entry and start.
Even if you step up to range-topping 3LT trim – with its extended leather pack, Alcantara interior details and racier GT2 seats – you’re still looking at a near 500bhp, mid-engined sports car with a list price lower than an entry-level Porsche 911 Carrera. The Corvette is predicted to depreciate more slowly over three years than the M4 or 911, but much faster than the Cayman GT4 (which is one of the slowest depreciating cars out there).
On top of the two trims, there are a few cost options available, and we’d definitely add the nose-lifter. It quickly raises the ride height for speed bumps and so on, and is a must-have if you intend to use it for daily driving.
As you might expect from a 6.2-litre V8-wielding sports car, running costs won’t exactly be low. Official figures suggest that you’ll get a combined economy figure of just 23.3mpg. That said, the engine can drop down to just four cylinders, and seamlessly does so quite often during normal driving. We saw more than 30mpg during motorway jaunts.
We don’t have reliability data for either Chevrolet or the Corvette, as they didn't feature in the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey but you get a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty.
The model hasn't been assessed for safety by Euro NCAP but comes with blind-spot assistance and rear cross-traffic alert (to stop you reversing into the path of other vehicles behind you).
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The 3LT version is more expensive and includes extra luxuries, including Napa leather GT2 seats and swathes of suede. Read more here
|RRP price range
|£96,390 - £104,340
|Number of trims (see all)
|Number of engines (see all)
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)
|MPG range across all versions
|23.3 - 23.3
|Available doors options
|3 years / 60000 miles
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)
|£6,936 / £7,524
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)
|£13,872 / £15,049