Chevrolet just took the veils off the 2020 C8 Corvette, but we still don’t know much about its performance. The 0 to 60 mph sprint is just an “under-three-seconds” estimate right now, while top speed remains a mystery. How fast will the C8 Corvette be? Let’s find out below.
HOW FAST CAN THE 2020 CHEVY C8 CORVETTE GO?
It’s rather strange for a high-performance car to break cover without a top speed benchmark
It might seem like Chevrolet wants to keep some details about the C8 Corvette, including its top speed, in the vault for now, but the truth is GM hasn’t yet tested that value.
“We still need to test that,” GM President Mark Reuss told journalists at the unveiling event. When contacted by The Drive, a Chevrolet spokesperson said: “We are not releasing all of the performance data for Corvette yet, and we will not provide timing for testing.”
It’s rather strange for a high-performance car to break cover without a top speed benchmark (or at least an estimate), but it’s even weirder that Chevrolet didn’t test it. This could mean that GM either wants to make sure that the Corvette comes with an impressive benchmark or it didn’t care about this particular performance figure.
The C8 Corvette needs to have a higher top speed than the C7, which is rated at 187 mph
A couple of things are certain, though. In order to be relevant, the C8 Corvette needs to have a higher top speed than the C7, which rated at 187 mph. It also needs to be competitive against its new mid-engined competitors, like the Ford GT, Ferrari 488 GTB, and Lamborghini Huracan. All these cars hit a top speed of more than 200 mph. While the Ferrari 488 GTB tops out at 205 mph, the Huracan reaches 212 mph, while the Ford GT will keep charging to 216 mph.
Needless to say, Chevrolet needs to aim toward the 200-mph mark and try to at least match the top speed of the previous Z06, rated at 205 mph. The ZR1 is even faster at 212 mph, but the C8 Corvette might not be strong enough to get there in base guise.
CHEVY CORVETTE TOP SPEED HISTORY
The nameplate’s first years on the market weren’t as spectacular
While modern Corvettes are quite impressive when it comes to performance, the nameplate’s first years on the market weren’t as spectacular. The first-generation model arrived in 1953 and, despite the ’Vette’s strong V-8 legacy, it didn’t have such an engine under the hood. The C1 Corvette debuted with a 3.9-liter inline-six unit. The Blue Flame engine was rated at only 150 horsepower, so it didn’t have much potential for a high top speed. Specs for the first-ever Corvette are rather scant, but it seems that the roadster was capable of only 108 mph. That wasn’t necessarily bad for the era, but it was inferior to what the competition had offered.
Thankfully, Chevy started using larger engines in the Corvette. The year 1955 brought a 4.3-liter V-8 with 195 horsepower, a rating that increased to 240 in 1956. The 4.6-liter V-8 that arrived in 1957 delivered up to 270 horses. This engine was further updated, and it reached 290 horsepower in 1958 and 315 horses in 1960. By far the most powerful engines in the C1 were the two 5.4-liter V-8s added for the 1962 model year. One was capable of 340 horsepower, while the FI version delivered 360 horses. With these engines, the C1 Corvette had a top speed of 140 mph, a notable improvement over the original 108-mph rating.
Read up on the 1953-1962 Chevy C1 Corvette
In 1965, two years after the C2 Corvette came into dealerships, Chevy introduced a 6.5-liter big-block V-8
The second-generation Corvette brought notable improvements in performance. Chevy dropped the inline-six engines, kept the small-block V-8, and introduced a couple of big-block V-8s. The C2 Corvette started out with a couple of 5.4-liter V-8s. The standard engine was available with 250 or 300 horsepower at launch, but output increased to 350 and 365 horses in the mid-1960s. The FI version of the same engine delivered up to 375 horsepower.
In 1965, two years after the C2 Corvette came into dealerships, Chevy introduced a 6.5-liter big-block V-8. This engine produced 425 horsepower, but it was replaced in 1966 with a bigger, 7.0-liter V-8. This mill was just as powerful at 425 horses, but Chevy also offered a 390-horsepower version. In 1967, the C2 Corvette’s final year on the market, Chevy introduced the Tri-Power variant of the big-block, which was capable of up to 435 horsepower. Top speed for the C2 ranged from 135 mph for the less expensive models to 155 mph for the range-topping version with 435 horsepower.
Check out our review of the 1963-1968 Chevy C2 Corvette
As the oil crisis struck and the government introduced new fuel economy regulations, the C3 Corvette’s power began to decline
Power and performance of the Corvette continued to rise with the arrival of the C3. At launch, in 1968, the 5.4-liter small-block V-8 was rated at 350 horsepower. The big-block mill continued to develop up to 435 horses until 1969. The 5.4-liter engine was replaced with a 5.7-liter unit that generated up to 370 horsepower in 1970. Like-wise, the 7.4-liter big-block V-8 became more powerful in 1970, when it reached a peak output of 460 horsepower. By this time, the Corvette’s average top speed increased to over 140 mph, while cars equipped with the ZL1 package and race-inspired engine were estimated to hit around 160 mph.
As the oil crisis struck and the government introduced new fuel economy regulations, the C3 Corvette’s power began to decline. In 1972, the 5.7-liter small-block V-8 was rated at “only” 255 horsepower, and output continued to decline. By 1982, the most powerful version of this engine cranked out 230 horses. The 7.4-liter big-block V-8 that Chevy introduced in 1970 with up to 460 horsepower was revised to 425 horses in 1971, but it was relegated to a mild 270 horsepower in 1972. The engine was discontinued with similar output at the end of 1974. Top speed of the C3 Corvette declined to 132 mph in 1978 and 125 mph in 1982, below the values of the C2 Corvette.
Read our in-depth review of the 1969 Chevy Corvette 427 C3
In 1996, the C4’s last year on the market, the Corvette Grand Sport featured a 5.7-liter LT4 with 330 horsepower
Things got back on track performance-wise with the launch of the C4 Corvette. Although the first edition had a 5.7-liter V-8 rated at only 205 horsepower in 1984, power began to climb from 1985 onward. The L98 version of the 5.7-liter V-8 jumped from 230 horsepower in 1985 to 250 horsepower in 1990. Chevy also introduced a new LT1 V-8 engine in 1992 with 300 horsepower. In 1996, the C4’s last year on the market, the Corvette Grand Sport featured a 5.7-liter LT4 with 330 horsepower.
This was the most powerful version of the C4, not including the ZR-1, powered by LT5 rated at up to 405 horsepower. I’m not including the ZR-1 in this comparison as the C4 marks the first time when the Z06 and ZR1 are more than just upgrade packages, but higher performance nameplates on their own. Top speed increased dramatically over the C3. The C4 with the LT1 engine topped out at 160 mph, while the Grand Sport with the LT4 had a 170-mph rating.
While the first four generations of the Corvette were offered with a multitude of engines, the C5 spent its entire life-cycle with the same mill under the hood, not including the Z06 of course. It was called the LS1 and was developed specifically for the C5 Corvette. The small-block, 5.7-liter V-8 debuted in 1997 with 345 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. The mill was upgraded for 2001 with a new intake, and exhaust manifold and power increased to 350 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of twist. In its most powerful iteration, the C5 Corvette had a top speed rated at 172 mph. It wasn’t notably higher than the previous Grand Sport, but it had 12 mph over the standard C4 Corvette with the LT1 engine.
Read up on our review of the 1997-2004 Chevy C5 Corvette
Just like its predecessor, the C6 Corvette debuted with just one engine. Chevy ditched the LS1 in favor of the LS2. This new engine was bigger at 6.0 liters, and it generated 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. However, the LS2 was short-lived. In 2008, Chevrolet replaced it with the LS3, a larger and more powerful V-8 mill. Now displacing 6.2 liters, the Corvette’s engine delivered 430 horsepower and 424 pound-feet of torque. With the optional vacuum-actuated valve exhaust, the LS3 produced 436 horses and 428 pound-feet. Chevrolet introduced two more engines, a naturally aspirated 7.0-liter LS7, and a supercharged 6.2-liter LS9, but these were developed for the Z06 and ZR1. As mentioned earlier, I’m not including them in this comparison. Top speed for the C6 Corvette, no matter the engine, was rated at 186 mph, the highest of any naturally aspirated Corvette until then.
Read up on the 2005-2013 Chevy C6 Corvette
The outgoing C7 Corvette features a 6.2-liter V-8 that goes by the name LT1. It’s based on the LS architecture it was brand-new in 2013, despite sharing its name with an older unit. Upon arrival, the C7 Corvette was rated at 455 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. Chevrolet offered a Z51 Performance Package with dry-sump oiling system and active exhaust that increased output to 460 horsepower and 465 pound-feet. Unlike its predecessor, the C7 continued until 2019 with the same engine specs, although Chevy did release supercharged LT4 and LT5 mills for the Z06 and ZR1 models. The C7 Corvette’s top speed is rated at 187 mph, just one mph higher than the C6.
Check out our full review of the 2014-2019 Chevy C7 Corvette
|Chevrolet Corvette – generational lineup|
|C1 Corvette||C2 Corvette||C3 Corvette (before oil crisis)||C3 Corvette (after oil crisis)||C4 Corvette||C5 Corvette||C6 Corvette||C7 Corvette||C8 Corvette|
|Engine:||5.4-liter V-8||7.0-liter V-8||7.4-liter V-8||5.7-liter V-8||5.7-liter V-8||5.7-liter V-8||6.2-liter V-8||6.2-liter V-8||6.2-liter V-8|
|Power:||360 horsepower||435 horsepower||460 horsepower||230 horsepower||330 horsepower||350 horsepower||430 horsepower||460 horsepower||495 horsepower|
|Top speed:||140 mph||155 mph||160 mph||125 mph||170 mph||172 mph||186 mph||187 mph||n/a|
2020 CHEVY C8 CORVETTE TOP SPEED VS. THE COMPETITION
The rivalry between Ford and Chevrolet dates back to the old days
The sports car market is quite vast nowadays, so the C8 Corvette has plenty of rivals to go against. However, many vehicles in this class feature turbocharged engines, so not all comparisons are fair.
The Ford GT is the first competitor we need to consider. The rivalry between Ford and Chevrolet dates back to the old days when the first-generation Corvette was pitted against the Ford Thunderbird. Things have changed now when the C8 Corvette enters the market against the Ford GT. The GT was revived for the first in the early 2000s, but Chevy couldn’t compete as the Corvette was still a mid-engined car back then. Now that it made the switch to the midship layout, the C8 is the perfect proposition.
But while the C8 Corvette is naturally aspirated, the Ford GT has a twin-turbo drivetrain. Another big difference is the configuration of the engine. Traditionally a V-8 car, the GT made the switch to a twin-turbo V-6 for the latest generation. As a result, the engine is much more powerful than the C8’s, delivering an impressive 647 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque. Naturally, the GT has an impressive top speed as well, rated at 216 mph.
The Lamborghini Huracan is a more attainable benchmark for Chevy
Previously a competitor for the ill-fated Dodge Viper and some European sports cars with front-mounted engines, the C8 Corvette now has what it takes to go after the Italians. The Ferrari 488 GTB is one of the cars on Chevy’s list. But just like the Ford GT, the 488 GTB features a turbocharged engine. This time around, it’s a 3.9-liter V-8. The Ferrari is also notably more powerful than the 488 GTB, generating a solid 661 horsepower and 561 pound-feet of torque. Its top speed is rated at 205 mph, more than any naturally aspirated Corvette up until now.
The Lamborghini Huracan is a more attainable benchmark for Chevy, as this Italian sports car is one of last to still feature a naturally aspirated engine. Updated for the 2019 model year, the Huracan now features an “Evo” badge, enhanced aerodynamics, and shares its engine with the Performante version. The 5.2-liter V-10 engine generates 631 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque and enables the Huracan to hit a top speed of 202 mph.
The Audi R8 is one of the very few naturally aspirated sports cars still available
Chevrolet will now also compete with McLaren, an automaker that builds mid-engined sports cars exclusively. The C8 Corvette will go against the company’s entry-level vehicle, the 570S. Powered by a twin-turbo, 3.8-liter V-8, the 570S isn’t as powerful as the 720S or the mighty Senna, but it’s no slouch at 562 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. Its top speed is solid too, surpassing the Lambo Huracan Evo at 204 mph.
The Audi R8 is one of the very few naturally aspirated sports cars still available. Now in its second generation, the R8 shares most underpinnings, including the engine, with the Lamborghini Huracan. The German sports car is thus powered by the same 5.2-liter V-10, but with a slightly lower rating at 562 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. Audi also offers a Performance version with 612 horses and 428 pound-feet. Top speed for the standard model is rated at 201 mph, while the Performance variant tops out at 206 mph.
Needless to say, Chevrolet has a tough mission here, with five of the six cars listed above being able to top 200 mph
Finally, the C8 Corvette also enables Chevrolet to compete with Porsche and the German company’s most recent 911. Granted, the 911 is actually a rear-engined sports car, but it’s aimed at the same type of customers looking for a streetable vehicle that’s also nimble at the race track. The 911 was redesigned for the 2020 model year and dropped its old naturally aspirated flat-six in favor of a twin-turbo flat-six. The engine cranks out 444 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque in the 911 Carrera S, which makes this model the only one that’s less powerful than the C8 Corvette. It also has the lowest top speed at 191 mph.
Needless to say, Chevrolet has a tough mission here, with five of the six cars listed above being able to top 200 mph. Chevy basically needs to increase the C7’s top speed by at least 13 mph, which may be tricky with the current specs. Granted, the Z06 and ZR1 models will be able to blow past the 200-mph mark effortlessly, but it remains to be seen if the C8 Corvette will become the first naturally aspirated Chevy that will be able to do so.
|Chevrolet Corvette C8 vs competition|
Ferrari 488 GTB
Lamborghini Huracan EVO
Porsche 911 Carrera S
|Engine||twin-turbo V-6||3.9-liter V-8||5.2-liter V-10||twin-turbo, 3.8-liter V-8||5.2-liter V-10||twin-turbo flat-six|
|Horsepower||647 hp||661 hp||631 hp||562 hp||562 hp||444 hp|
|Torque||550 lb-ft||561 lb-ft||443 lb-ft||443 lb-ft||413 lb-ft||391 lb-ft|
|Top Speed||216 mph||205 mph||202 mph||204 mph||201 mph||191 mph|
THE 2020 CHEVY C8 CORVETTE COULD HURT THE USED EXOTIC MARKET
Gallardos aren’t as expensive as the Lamborghini badge might suggest
Now that it features a mid-engined layout, the C8 Corvette could be a big blow to the used exotic market. Mostly because it will start at less than $60,000, but also because it will offer better tech and possibly better performance by comparison.
Having already looked at the C8’s potential rivalries, let’s check out what used exotic might suffer when the C8 Corvette goes on sale. First on this list is the Lamborghini Gallardo, the sports car that the Huracan replaced in 2014. Powered by a 5.0-liter V-12, the first iteration of the Gallardo came with 493 and 376 pound-feet on tap. Its top speed was rated at 192 mph. In 2006, Lambo updated the engine to 513 horsepower, while top speed increased to 196 mph. One final update increase displacement to 5.2 liters and power to 552 horsepower and 398 pound-feet. Top speed also rose beyond the 200-mph mark at 201 mph for the coupe model. Because it was built in more than 14,000 units, rather many for an exotic, used Gallardos aren’t as expensive as the badge might suggest. You can find well-maintained examples with less than 20,000 miles on the odo priced between $90,000 to $100,000. Opt for units with more miles and prices drop to around $80,000 and even $70,000. At $60,000 before options, the C8 Corvette is definitely the better buy.
Unlike the current Ford GT, the old car features a supercharged, 5.4-liter V-8 engine
The previous-generation Audi R8 is also a somewhat affordable sports car. It shares the 5.2-liter V-10 with the Gallardo, but it also featured a 4.2-liter V-8. The latter had 424 horsepower and 317 pound-feet and hit a top speed of 188 mph. The R8 equipped with the V-10 generated up to 552 horsepower and 398 pound-feet, just like the Gallardo, while its top speed came in at 199 mph. In this case, the V-8 model cost around $70,000 with low mileage, while V-10 versions fetch between $80,000 to $100,000.
But how does it compare to the first-generation Ford GT? This American sports car is quite old, having been produced from 2004 to 2006. Unlike the current GT, the old car features a supercharged, 5.4-liter V-8 engine. The mill cranks out 550 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque and pushes the coupe toward a top speed of 205 mph. Not bad given that much newer supercars are slower. The problem with the Ford GT is that only 4,000 were built, so it’s a rare bird and costs notably more. Prices vary from $230,000 to $320,000 for low-mileage examples.
Ferrari also used to make naturally aspirated sports cars for this niche in the past. Before the 488 GTB broke cover with a turbo engine, Ferrari sold the 458 Italia, powered by a naturally aspirated, 4.5-liter V-8. Rated at 562 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque, this Ferrari hit a top speed of 202 mph. But just like the Ford GT, the 458 Italia is a rather expensive car on the used car market. Prices usually start from around $180,000, but they can go beyond $220,000 for low-mileage units.
|Chevrolet Corvette C8 vs used supercars|
Lamborghini Gallardo I
Lamborghini Gallardo II
Lamborghini Gallardo LII
Audi R8 V8
Audi R8 V-10
2006 Ford GT
Ferrari 458 Italia
|Engine||5.0-liter V-12||5.0-liter V-12||5.2-liter V-12||4.2-liter V-8||5.2-liter V-10||5.4-liter V-8||4.5-liter V-8|
|Horsepower||493 hp||513 hp||552 hp||424 hp||552 hp||550 hp||562 hp|
|Torque||376 lb-ft||376 lb-ft||398 lb-ft||317 lb-ft||398 lb-ft||500 lb-ft||398 lb-ft|
|Top Speed||192 mph||196 mph||201 mph||188 mph||199 mph||205 mph||202 mph|