It's a controversial topic, is this really the 'First' mid-engine Corvette? What is 'mid-engine' anyway?
"A mid-engine configuration refers to the placement of an automobile engine between the rear and front axles." - Robbie Sanders
Chevrolet has flirted with mid-engine designs for decades. From the open-wheel Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle (CERV) of 1959 to the CERV-III/Corvette Indy in 1986, enthusiasts have been teased about the possibility.
“No one will ever be able to say again that a Corvette can’t be made into a world-class sports car.” Zora Arkus-Duntov
The 2020 model has been often termed as the 'first mid-engine' Corvette. Yet, every Corvette since 1963 has technically been mid-engine. The term's misapplication simplifies the complex engineering nuances that distinguish front-engine, mid-engine, and rear-engine layouts.
The original 1953 Corvette was revolutionary but leaned more towards luxury.
The 1963 (C2) Corvette marked the car's first shift towards the sports and performance-oriented domain, such as a new chassis with an independent rear suspension.
C5's 1997 model was another game-changer, introducing a front-mid rear transaxle powertrain layout with an almost 50/50 weight distribution. Technically, this could be referred to as a mid-engine corvette!
The C6 and C7 followed suit, refining the successful design and racing championships.
Many people consider the C7 ZR1 to be the pinnacle of performance possible without moving the engine further rearward.
With the C8, Chevrolet has targeted a broader audience, trying to compete with European luxury sports cars. The new design brings the driver closer to the front axle, offers lesser storage but leans into a 40/60 rear weight bias. The only transmission available is the Tremec 8-speed dual-clutch gearbox, and the right-hand-drive option is now feasible due to its mid-rear drivetrain layout.
The C8 is a culmination of Corvette's illustrious legacy. While it competes in a whole new market, it's a testament to Chevrolet's progressive vision for America's sports car. However, while many accolades fit the new model, simplifying it as "mid-engine" does an injustice to its predecessors.