Mid-engined and finally in right-hand drive, the C8 is a car of momentous firsts

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When the Chevrolet brand announced its departure from the European market back in 2013, few predicted that there would one day be a bright side to all the job losses, factory closures and general doom and gloom of GM’s slow retreat from our continent.

One, admittedly, only for a select few sports car enthusiasts to really appreciate, but a bright side of a sort. It is the eighth-generation Chevrolet Corvette: the first car in this American sporting icon’s seven-decade history to be offered in right-hand-drive form.

The Corvette C8 Convertible has a motorised top, but you can take the roof off the coupe too. The roof is unlatched via two handles on the header rail, and a third under the trailing edge. Taking it off and stowing it can just about be managed on your own, but it’s easier with a helper.

If Chevrolet was still plugging away selling the Captivas, Aveos, Orlandos and other bargain-priced family cars that Europe’s motoring population is already beginning to forget, you can bet that it couldn’t now justify selling a V8-engined sports car that would inflate its fleet emissions statistics.

Luckily for the vastly smaller operation that GM Europe has now become, European emissions regulations on small-scale car distributors are more lenient than they are on larger ones.

That’s how it has come to pass that you can, for the first time, buy an official, factory-built, right-hand-drive Corvette sports car from GM Europe’s one and only nominated UK dealer: Ian Allan Motors of Virginia Water, Surrey.

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This is a sports car unlike any other in the Corvette’s long back catalogue. Critically, it’s a Corvette without the front-mounted engine and transverse composite leaf spring suspension that have defined so much about so many previous generations.

It is a Corvette, mind you, that retains a removable Targa-style roof, a relatively affordable entry price and a big-hitting, big-hearted atmo V8 – albeit one mounted behind the cabin rather than in front of it.

And so, finally, for our biggest and most exhaustive road and track assessment, to find out exactly what this enigmatic American has gained, how it compares with established European rivals and what it has sacrificed on its way to becoming a truly global mid-engined sports car.

Range at a glance

All European-market C8s get the Z51 pack (uprated suspension, brakes and exhaust; electronic limited-slip differential and shortened axle ratio), which Chevrolet charges extra for elsewhere, as standard. 3LT models get a sportier sports seat, plus the option of more leather and microfibre suede in the cabin.

There are plenty of cost options even on upper-spec cars, among them machined-finish alloy wheels, carbonfibre body trim and a nose-lifter. There’s no word yet on a UK price for the forthcoming Corvette Z06 high-performance derivative.

Coupé 2LT475bhp£77,200
Coupé 3LT475bhp£82,290
Convertible 2LT475bhp£82,200
Convertible 3LT475bhp




02 Chevrolet Corvette touring C8 Stingray 2022 RT side pan
Photography by Max Edleston

Chevrolet has aborted previous attempts to make the Corvette mid-engined, but this one stuck. Starting from a clean-sheet design for the C8 clearly allowed the firm to include right-hand-drive factory production, but also to modernise the Corvette’s wider design and construction, moving beyond the technical constraints that many believed held back past versions.

Within a new backbone-style aluminium spaceframe chassis, then, Chevrolet now positions a 6.2-litre V8 engine longitudinally behind the two-seat passenger compartment, with an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox and a torque-vectoring active rear differential taking drive from it to the rear wheels.

There are a few alloy wheel designs but all are the same size, staggered front to back. By sitting too far inside the wheel arch rather than filling it, they all undermine the Corvette’s stance somewhat. Want to bet the Z06 has wider rims that cure the problem?

The engine is mostly aluminium too, with cast iron cylinder liners, and has a two-valve, pushrod-actuated cylinder head. In European-market tune, because it needs to satisfy stricter emissions regulations, it makes slightly less peak power and torque than in North America, but even so, 475bhp and 452lb ft are pretty generous outputs for any £80,000 sports car in 2022.

The new engine positioning would have forced a rethink on the Corvette’s long-standing preference for transverse leaf spring suspension anyway (which helped to deliver the super-low bonnet, wings and overall silhouette of previous versions), because a mid-mounted engine would have been impossible to package alongside such a configuration.

But it happened that new double-wishbone axles, with adjustable coilover suspension and magnetorheological dampers, were in Chevrolet’s thinking for the C8 in any case. Coil springs can be more easily fine-tuned than leaves, and the Corvette’s new suspension and axle design permits greater freedom for owners to adjust the wheel geometry of their car.

The magnetorheological dampers, which our road test subject had, are a £1580 option on UK cars, but Chevrolet’s Z51 upgrade package is standard. This adds stiffened coil suspension, uprated Brembo brakes, high-performance Michelin tyres, a performance exhaust system, a shortened axle ratio and the active torque-vectoring rear differential.

The Corvette is both large and heavy by mid-engined sports car standards. At 4634mm, it’s more than 220mm longer than a Lotus Emira and almost 100mm longer than a McLaren Artura. Tipping our scales at 1679kg fuelled and in running order, it’s about 230kg and 180kg heavier than each respectively.

The exterior design has plenty of impact, with sharply drawn features. It’s the new cabin-forward body profile that will take the most getting used to and makes those visual references to predecessors seem somewhat misplaced.

There are obvious shades of Lamborghini Aventador about the bonnet styling, and of the Ferrari F430 elsewhere. This is a little like generic supercar design done for a Disney Pixar movie: cheery and likeable, if a bit simplistic.


10 Chevrolet Corvette touring C8 Stingray 2022 RT cockpit

Like predecessors, the car is a strict two-seater. Unlike many of them, which offered some open and accessible storage space behind the seats, the C8 Corvette’s engine placement puts paid to that. This doesn’t make it short on luggage space, however. There’s 356 litres of carrying space, split between a compartment in the nose and a larger one at the rear.

Long-standing Corvette owners will be used to even more cargo space, but even compared with a Porsche 911 or Porsche 718 Cayman, this Corvette seems quite a versatile and usable sports car for daily driving and touring.

The Competition Sport-spec optional front seats don’t quite allow taller drivers to sit low enough at the wheel, but standard-fit items might be better. The front cargo compartment is smaller than in some sports cars or supercars but it’s big enough to take a mid-sized flight case and a few smaller bags. And it can be opened using a button under the bumper.

The primary ergonomics do betray a certain lack of experience with mid-engined packaging. Several designs of seat are offered. Our Competition Sport seats had fairly thick cushioning and plenty of lateral support, but slimmer-padded GT1- and GT2-spec chairs are available for a slightly comfier and easier slide in and out of the car. If they allow you to sit any lower at the wheel, the other seats might be worth having, because our car’s driving position was about 2in higher than is ideal, limiting head room a little and bringing the header rail into the forward field of vision.

The wider cabin layout tells you much about the underlying structure of the Corvette in amiably transparent fashion. You have a high-rising centre tunnel that looks like it should have a backbone and driveshaft within it (even though it clearly no longer has the latter), with a line of quite small physical ventilation control buttons running along its ridge, and space adjacent for drinks-holders, a rotary drive mode controller and some good-sized, easy-to-find transmission controls.

Chevrolet’s standards on material richness and presentation are quite high. If you have a 3LT car like ours, you get a leather-wrapped dashboard and door panels and a microfibre suede headlining, which look and feel fairly lavish and upmarket. The secondary controls, meanwhile, mostly look and feel solid too.


19 Chevrolet corvette touring c8 stingray 2022 rt infotainment 0

There’s no difference between Chevrolet’s UK-market trim levels as regards infotainment specification: both versions of the car get an 8.0in touchscreen display with voice recognition, 14-speaker Bose audio, wireless smartphone mirroring and wireless device charging as standard.

It’s an all-touchscreen system with no separate input device, but it sits at a point at the junction of the fascia and centre console that’s within a comfortable stretch of your left arm without needing you to lean forwards.

It has a physical volume knob and home buttons, which help you to navigate the system, too. And while it’s not the most graphically ambitious or feature-rich set-up, it’s nicely presented and easy to use.

The Bose audio system has plenty of power and good reproduction quality, and during our test connected consistently and reliably with an Apple smartphone for music streaming.


20 Chevrolet Corvette touring C8 Stingray 2022 RT engine

This, inevitably, is where the Corvette’s positioning as a modern supercar for sports car money becomes a little undermined. A total of 475bhp in a near-1700kg car was never going to make for performance comparable to a modern Ferrari or Lamborghini, which is what this car’s design and styling suggest it offers.

And yet few who drive a Corvette quickly are likely to find the C8’s outright performance level wanting.

A job for the facelift: Work on that gearbox calibration so it doesn’t hunt quite so much in D.

Against the clock, the Corvette is actually marginally slower even than the defining sports car of the moment, a Porsche 911 Carrera S PDK, which is not only 150kg lighter but marginally quicker in all the respects we measure.

Even so, it cracks 60mph from rest in 3.9sec (some way off Chevrolet’s 3.5sec 0-62mph claim, but still punchy-feeling) and will crack 30-70mph through the gears in 3.2sec (less than half a second slower than the Porsche, but the better part of a second quicker than an Alpine A110 Légende GT).

No Corvette’s driver appeal has ever been defined by numbers, of course. The new car’s pushrod V8 is as central to its on-road mystique here, sat behind your head, as ever any of its predecessors were when rumbling away just ahead of your toes.

It has a wonderfully honest, chattery, tappety rhythm at low revs, and then strikes up the brass and woodwind sections in turn as it spins up. It needs about 4000rpm dialled in to really feel potent, but then stonks its way up to the 6600rpm redline. It makes a superbly mellifluous noise and is unfailingly smooth: not angry-sounding or attention-cravingly ostentatious – just rich, simple and lovely to listen to.

Brake pedal progression and feel are both very good, with enough stopping power available even on track, and good fade resistance. The eight-speed gearbox, meanwhile, is a bit of a work in progress. It will do Porsche 911 GT3-style ‘double-paddle’ clutch disengagement for an enhanced level of control during track driving and shifts smoothly during road driving, though not always downshifting as smartly as you might like in either setting.

Leave it in D mode and it’s a bit overly keen to upshift at a cruise and then hunt for the right ratio when you want roll-on acceleration, as modern multi-speed ’boxes tend to be. But it can drop as many as three ratios in one stride for a decisive ‘kickdown’ response to a big pedal input, and is an obedient and generally more engaging device if you stick to the shorter ratios in manual mode.


22 Chevrolet Corvette touring C8 Stingray 2022 RT front corner

Even in right-hand-drive form, there may be no disguising the Corvette’s considerable girth on narrower UK lanes, and it certainly feels its weight at low speeds. But put some speed into that mid-engined chassis, give the adaptive dampers some input to work with and the C8 begins to feel a shade lighter, more poised and more nimble.

It never threatens to flit delicately along like an Alpine A110, and nor does it communicate or involve quite as vividly through its seat and controls as a Lotus Emira does. But the car develops hearteningly good close body control at higher cross-country speeds if you use its firmer-set driving modes. And alternatively, it can move around and express itself a little more on its springs in Tour mode, allowing greater ride comfort, and actually enriching the driving experience in a way forgotten to so many more uncompromising sports cars by reacting to the road surface and communicating more simply.

I liked driving the Corvette best in Tour mode. You turn in, allow it a moment, and feel the mass settle on the outside rear wheel and the diff lock up. You can then drive the car through the apex, rotating the chassis and bathing in the simple mastery of physical forces. Lovely.

The Corvette doesn’t have especially fast-paced steering at 2.5 turns between locks, and the rack’s moderately relaxed rate of response feels well matched to that of the chassis. There is a slightly fast initial take-up from the gearing just off-centre, making the handling feel a bit fussy about exactly where you are pointing it. It’s probably an attempt to add fine precision to the steering and, though a little misguided, you attune and adapt to it soon enough.

At any rate, the abiding sense that those who know previous Corvettes will be left with is of how sweetly and naturally it steers. The much shorter and more rigid column of a mid-engined car does wonders for the accuracy, crispness and feel of the steering. This is the one giant dynamic leap that it has taken compared with its forebears, because you can guide and place the C8 so much more easily, in spite of its width.

21 Chevrolet corvette touring c8 stingray 2022 rt rear slide 0

Comfort and Isolation

The Corvette covers ground very comfortably at motorway speeds, albeit rather noisily. Our cabin noise measurements were taken with the removable roof on, needless to say – and they place the car a couple of decibels noisier than even the current Porsche 911 (not a car that has ever been known for quiet cruising) at both 30mph and 70mph.

The discrepancy grows to fully 5dBA at maximum revs in fourth gear. But then Chevrolet’s NVH engineers would no doubt describe what emanates from the C8’s engine bay at high revs not as noise but sound, there to be enjoyed. They clearly weren’t shy of it – and neither should they have been.

If you do want to drink in that V8 rumble, it’s advisable to actually keep the roof panel in place. The ‘Targa top’ makes the cabin feel a little exposed when it’s stowed, and engine noise can be drowned out by the whistling of passing air.

The ride is usefully absorptive in Tour mode, which allows the body to roll and breathe with the road surface enough to show some character but not too much. Thus set, the C8 doesn’t turn so crisply as it can at other times but has a lovely way of settling into a line and attitude around a long arcing bend or slip road.

Track notes

Corvette c8 rt track notes

No doubt expecting some stark dynamic transformation from their new mid-engined hero, parts of the American press criticised the C8 for a tendency towards understeer at the limit of grip: in our view, quite unfairly.

Sure, this is no Ferrari 458 Speciale for outright handling poise and control on the circuit. It’s large and heavy by sports car standards. It moves on its contact patches a little at fast track speeds, communicating the physical forces it’s subject to – and, because of the car’s mass and its performance potential, those forces are significant.

But the C8 can certainly lap quickly and accurately, and with confidence, commitment and plenty of staying power. While it is usually the front axle that communicates the margins of its adhesion by starting to miss apices, that doesn’t stop you finding a decent chassis balance, along with fairly benign adjustability in the dry – although that rearward weight bias and active diff make the C8 trickier to drive quickly at the limit in the wet.


01 Chevrolet Corvette touring C8 Stingray 2022 RT intro

It may not be as alluringly affordable for UK customers as it can be on the other side of the Atlantic, but compared with European-made sports car rivals, the Chevrolet Corvette offers a great deal for a sub-£80,000 price. A lot of metal for the money; usable space; power, soul and performance; and visual sporting presence.

The snag is that if you don’t live in the south-east of England, the location of Chevrolet’s one sales and servicing outlet might be problematic. As Autocar understands it, GM Europe is exploring whether it needs to increase its UK showroom footprint. Even through only one UK dealer, right-hand-drive demand for the car is already equalling left-hand-drive demand for the whole of the rest of Europe combined. Ian Allan’s UK waiting list has been fixed at 18 months since early last year, and it is showing no signs of shortening.

CAP doesn’t quite expect 911-level residuals for the Corvette – odd given the current surfeit of RHD demand – but still a tidy forecast.

If you join it now, you should at least be spared a car whose trip computer indicates fuel economy in US miles to the gallon as our test car’s did (a software fix is already in train). Corrected to imperial gallons, expect to see a very creditable 32.9mpg on gentler touring runs, but only about half of that when you explore the lures of that V8 engine more fully.


24 Chevrolet Corvette touring C8 Stingray 2022 RT static

Much has been made of the Corvette’s big switch to a mid-engined layout. And what it delivers is a better-handling sports car, just as intended. Not one quite good enough to rise above the very best of its European rivals for outright driver appeal, but certainly to make it much more seriously comparable to the Porsches, Jaguars, Lotuses, Alpines and BMW M cars of this world.

It’s a particularly enticing one given its price, impressive touring manners and usability, its powerful and effusive small-block V8 and a kerbside presence that borrows liberally, but effectively, from the supercar playbook.

This car is already an Autocar Award winner for being such an outstanding affordable ‘dream car’. That route-one directness may still be its best asset, but it now has plenty of others besides a roaring V8.

There are some packaging and dynamic basics that could be better, but the car has a really rich charm all of its own, moments of real dynamic accomplishment and a way of involving its driver on a simple but meaningful level that so many 700bhp supercars no longer bother with. We welcome the Corvette’s long-overdue UK arrival in right-hand-drive form, and hope very much that it stays a while.

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

Chevrolet Corvette C8 First drives