Why the C8 Corvette Stingray Is So Quick

We could forever debate the philosophical implications of the Chevrolet Corvette’s switch to a mid-engine layout, but when it comes to physics, the repercussions are clear: moving the Corvette’s heaviest component behind the driver has a dramatic effect on the car’s ability to accelerate.

The Z51-package C8 and the outgoing Z51 C7 have similar weight-to-power ratios, yet the new car can sprint to 60 mph almost a second sooner. To understand why, you have to remember that a tire’s grip is related to the mass it carries. To maximize a powerful car’s ability to accelerate, you want weight over the driven wheels—but only enough so that the car can put its power to ground. Once you’ve accelerated and upshifted to a speed where traction isn’t a concern, weight is acceleration’s enemy. The trick to making a powerful car quick, then, isn’t to make it heavy. It’s to manage where the weight lies.

The front-engine, rear-drive C7 had a front-to-rear weight distribution of 49/51 percent—roughly 1750 pounds on its rear tires when the car wasn’t moving. The mid-engine, rear-drive C8 carries less of its mass on the nose—there are 2210 pounds on the rear tires when stationary. That’s 460 pounds more, which means considerably more available traction at the rear wheels.

Because weight shifts rearward under acceleration, that figure only improves as the car gains speed. To take advantage of this additional traction, Corvette engineers fulfilled their God-given purpose: they sent more torque to the rear wheels. Compared with the automatic-transmission C7, the C8’s first gear is a massive 21 percent shorter—the new car’s rear wheels experience a torque increase of more than 20 percent from that change alone. When you factor in the 10 lb-ft bump from the new V-8, the LT2, the C8’s rear wheels receive an additional 1350 lb-ft. No wonder the new Corvette wears 305-section rear rubber in place of the C7’s 285s.

 

 

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