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Highlights of the 2019 SEMA Show in Las Vegas

SEMA is the United Nations conference of all things aftermarket, and here’s some of the best stuff we spotted there.

1.Quintin Brothers Dodge Challenger

This 1000-hp Dodge Challenger went on a wild adventure after it arrived in Las Vegas. Vermont-based Quintin Brothers Auto & Performance had their truck and trailer stolen days before the show. Their custom Challenger was inside. Video surveillance helped track down the perp, but when Nevada state trooper Adam Whitmarsh tried to block the stolen Challenger into a parking space, the suspect rammed the Trooper’s Ford Explorer and escaped. After exiting the parking structure, the suspect smashed through a fence and drove the stolen Challenger across a nearby karting track—during a karting event. He eventually ditched the car and was later arrested. The Quintin Brothers and their Dodge Challenger arrived at the SEMA show wearing battle wounds from the wild chase.

2. Chevrolet E-10 Concept

It’s not an engine, it’s a motor. The Chevrolet E-10 concept is a 450-hp electrified C-10 pickup. Typically the only time a 1970s Chevy pickup is plugged into anything, it’s connected to a trickle charger. The E-10 has its batteries in the bed. The two electric motors seen here are called eCrate motors, a nod to the popular Chevy crate engines that can be found swapped into just about anything. GM claims the E-10 can complete a zero-to-60-mph run in about five seconds with a quarter-mile time in the high 13s. A Tesla P100D might be quicker, but it doesn’t look as cool.

3. Vibrant Performance Titanium Chair

Had Game of Thrones producers used Nissan Skylines or Toyota Supras instead of dragons as source material, this might be the Iron Throne. Vibrant Performance didn’t have to vanquish their enemies to build the thing, but they did use more than 50 pieces from their lineup of titanium exhaust products to construct what’s likely the most uncomfortable Adirondack chair on the porch. But it’s fun. Feeling exhausted? Have a seat.


4. Hyundai Veloster Grappler Concept

You’re unlikely to see a Hyundai Veloster on an off-road trail, let alone a dirt road, but this overland concept is out to change that. The Veloster Grappler concept is equipped with typical in-car camping accessories like a rear-hatch tent, solar panels, LED light bars, big all-terrain tires, and a roof basket to carry a spare. It’s still pretty low to the ground, and the tire clearance isn’t ideal for crawling, but it’s a concept. We’d pitch a tent with this thing.

5. Toyota Supra Wasabi Concept

Toyota’s Genuine Accessory Team cooked up a color for this concept that we hope will soon find its way onto a Camry. This Supra’s paint mimics wasabi paste and features white accents on the brake calipers, mirrors, stripes, and spoiler. The forged-aluminum wheels were designed at Toyota and have center caps with the original Toyota emblem. Ohlins coil-overs drop the Supra concept two inches. This was one of many Toyota Supras at the show.

6. AEV Jeep Gladiator

This Jeep Gladiator is equipped with all the proper get-dirty-quick gear. It has tough Bilstein dampers, a lifted suspension, and 37-inch tires. American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) is known for swapping big engines into off-road vehicles and then adding lift kits and other off-road accessories. They’re also responsible for the coolest parts of the Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison. This year AEV brought three green machines to show off their latest accessories.

7. 1999 Honda Civic Si Super Street Build

Was this the car that sparked the movie The Fast and the Furious in 2001? It sure looks like it. Honda brought a handful of concepts to the show in celebration of its 60th year in North America, and what better way to do it by showcasing the Civic Si Super Street magazine modified for the Civic Si Challenge in 2000. If you collected buckets of Mattel die-cast cars as a kid (or shamelessly as adults, like us), this car might look familiar.

8. Nissan Frontier Desert Runner

The current-gen Nissan Frontier might be 16 years old, but this concept proves that Nissan knows what people at SEMA want in a truck: tons of suspension, awesome off-road tires, some type of light bar, and a 600-hp 5.8-liter V-8. In the meantime, we can only hope one of these ingredients get put to use on the upcoming Frontier refresh.

9. RTR Rambler Ford Ranger Concept

The RTR Rambler Ford Ranger does everything right without going too far. Ford chose 33-inch Nitto Ridge Grappler tires with custom RTR Tech 6 wheels, because they know anything bigger than that will be unnecessary in most cases. Three LED light bars are tastefully tucked into a custom front grille to complete an almost Ranger Raptor–like appearance. A two-inch suspension lift is installed as well as heavy-duty rock sliders, which act as both a step and as extra protection against rocky terrain. It’s a simple package done well, saving the flashy stuff like wild paint for the Insta-campers.

10. 1972 Honda N600

If it looks like this 1972 Honda N600 has a motorcycle engine under the hood, it’s because it does. This oddball is powered by a Honda VFR 800-cc V-4 motorcycle engine that puts power to the rear wheels. Although the car itself predates the era of high-revving VTECs, with the bike motor installed, this is likely the only N600 with a 12,000-rpm redline. This was one of several cars Honda showcased at the SEMA show.

11. Honda Civic Si Drift Car

This is a peek under the hood of a 926-hp Honda Civic Si. The engine is turned longitudinally and transforms a front-wheel-drive coupe into a rear-wheel-drive drift-spec machine. The work was done with help from Jeanneret Racing and Olson Kustom Works.

12. Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 Prototype

We saw this Chevrolet Silverado Desert race truck back in early October, when it competed in the Laughlin Desert Classic, a 17-mile race event in Nevada near the Arizona border. It was there for “engineering development,” but we still think it’s a preview of an upcoming Silverado Z

13. Honda Rally Passport

Honda R&D in Ohio built this rally-ready Honda Passport in their spare time. It has already survived a handful of rally competitions, finishing second in its class at the Southern Ohio Forest Rally. It has had typical safety additions like a roll cage, but other than that it’s unchanged except for tires, brake pads, wheels, and skid plates. Oh, there’s also the addition of a hand-operated hydraulic brake, for epic drift action.

14. 1968 Ford Bronco

There’s been plenty of buzz lately about the upcoming Ford Bronco, which is expected to debut in early 2020. A collaboration between Jay Leno and Ford, this Bronco has a supercharged 5.2-liter V-8 from the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 and a five-speed manual transmission. The restoration maintained the simple beauty of original Bronco. The 18-inch steel wheels by Detroit Steel Wheels are a great combination of old style and modern needs. The Bronco’s Tonight Blue color would look great on a Mustang or F-150 Raptor.

15. Hyundai Veloster N Performance Concept

The Veloster N is quick, but this Veloster N Performance concept is quicker. Hyundai modified its hot hatch with carbon fiber for the front splitter, side skirts, rear diffuser, and spoiler while adding carbon fiber to each wheel’s center caps. The suspension is made up of Extreme Racing coil-overs and H&R coil springs with aluminum chassis bracing to add rigidity. Orange-accented interior bits stand out among more carbon-fiber pieces and an Alcantara dashboard.

16. SpeedKore Dodge Charger

Routed through the front fender of a 2019 Dodge Charger Pursuit is the exhaust from a 1525-hp Dodge Demon V-8. This project, put together by SpeedKore Performance Group and MagnaFlow, began as a police car. After fitting a carbon-fiber widebody kit, they turned it into something that would outrun police cars. The stock supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 was transformed into a twin-turbo engine and received an upgraded upper intake manifold designed to withstand the 26 psi of boost.

Written by: Austin Irwin, Car&Driver

Veterans Day 2019

No words can ever express the gratitude to our military and their families for the sacrifices they have endured in representing and defending our country.

They are remembered everyday! deBotech, Inc. has great respect and possesses great pride in knowing and supporting our employees, their spouses and family members who are veterans in our local community and nationwide.

We are so thankful for their service!

As Thanksgiving approaches, it is natural for us to feel a great appreciation for all that is special in our lives.

Remembering our veterans who have served our country is something we are grateful for everyday and in November our hearts are filled with great pride and thanks.

So, on Veterans’ Day and every other day, we extend a Big THANK YOU!

Meet our Veterans

Brian Meadows works in our Lamination department. He served in the Army for 4 years and 6 months. His rank was E4 and he traveled to Korea. We asked what Brian learned from his service and he shared “teamwork, and that things could always be worse”. Thank you Brian!
Meet Broderick Doby who is also in our Lamination department. He served in the United States Coast Guard for 2 years. While talking with Brock he said he was getting into trouble as a young boy, and decided to join the Coast guard. This experience turned him into a man and taught him assertiveness, character and responsibility. Thank you for your service Brock!
Meet Raymond Freeman from our Cutting department. Raymond served 3 years in the United States Army his rank was SPC. He traveled to California, and El Paso, Texas. He learned from his experience to “embrace the suck and that nothing is handed to you.” Thank you for your service Raymond!
Meet William Labor from our Demold department. Will served 8 years in the United States Marines, rank E5 Sears during his time he learned leadership skills. These skills are shown in his work daily. Thank you for your service Will!
Meet John Lovell from R&D! Johnny has been with deBotech since the beginning. He served 6 years in the United States Army and his biggest take away was that he “grew up” and he traveled to Panama, Alaska, and most of the lower 48. Thank you for your service Johnny!
Meet Gerald Stevens, our new Production Supervisor. Gerald served for a total of 22 in a half years. He served 4 years in the United States Marine Corps and 18 years in the United States Army. Gerald traveled for 62 foreign countries and was glad to be able to serve and come back in one piece. Thank you for your service Gerald!
Meet Nolan Givens deBotechs Process Coordinator. Nolan served in the United states Navy rank E7 Chief Petty Officer for 9 years. Nolan learned work ethic and discipline. Thank you for your service Nolan!

Meet David Laws our Production Supervisor. He served 8 years in the United States Air Force. David learned work ethic, leadership skills and most importantly he learned integrity from his service. David, we thank you for your service!

2020 Corvette Stingray Shown at Spring Mountain’s SEMA Display

Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club, home of the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School, is located less than hour from Las Vegas and they bring a continent of cars and people to the annual SEMA Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Drivers for Ron Fellows School provide hot laps for the attendees which is hella fun if you have ever had the opportunity to catch a ride in one of the ZR1s they have. In addition to the hot laps, Spring Mountain also has booth display at SEMA and featured prominently is the 2020 Corvette Stingray wearing the Ron Fellows Driving School livery.

We asked Spring Mountain’s Todd Crutcher send us some photos of the 2020 Corvette on display as it’s the only place at SEMA outside the Chevrolet display where you catch the C8 Corvette in the flesh.

Chevy had displayed a C8 Corvette with the Ron Fellows door stickers at both the Woodward Dream Cruise and Corvettes at Carlisle, but the car on display at SEMA is much more representative of the Ron Fellows livery that also features the No. 01 car number on the front and back while Michelin stickers are also featured. A windshield banner completes the look.

This C8 Corvette is a Z51 model and 3LT trim package and inside is the two-tone Blue leather interior. The Stingray also shows off the visible carbon fiber roof panel that’s only been spotted a couple of times.

There has yet to be any kind of announcement regarding a driving school for owners of the C8 Corvette at the world-class driving school, but we’ve been told to stay tuned as things are progressing. We do know that a continent of cars will be built for the school and that they will be used as part of the official GM training for dealerships who are selling the new sports cars. While the strike has messed up the original timeline for the school to receive their cars, we expect some sort of announcement will be made in the near future.

If you have purchased a C7 Corvette in the last year, your time is limited to take advantage of the 2-day Corvette Owner’s School that’s heavily subsidized by Chevrolet. To find out more information about the Corvette Owner’s school, visit SpringMountainMotorsports.com or call Melinda or Donna for details 1-800-391-6891. All Corvette enthusiasts are invited!

Spring Mountain / Ron Fellows Driving School

Lake Placid picks up a second weekend of IBSF World Cup races

Kendall Wesenberg begins her second run in the women’s World Cup skeleton race in February at Mount Van Hoevenberg. After USA Skeleton National Team trials races ended in Lake Placid on Sunday, USA Bobsled & Skeleton announced that Wesenberg will be part of the 2019-2020 World Cup team, competing as USA 1. (Enterprise file photo — Lou Reuter)

LAKE PLACID — The state Olympic Regional Development Authority will be hosting the first two International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation World Cups this year at Mount Van Hoevenberg, instead of only one as previously planned.

The season-opening BMW IBSF Bobsled & Skeleton World Cup originally scheduled at Park City, Utah from Nov. 25 to Dec. 1 was moved to Lake Placid for the weekend of Dec. 7 and 8, the IBSF announced on Nov. 2. The second World Cup race will be held as planned at the Olympic Sports Complex from Dec. 13 to 15.

“Due to the short time for preparation and in order to guarantee high level quality ice, the schedule for those two World Cup weeks had to be amended,” the IBSF stated in a press release.

There will be two, two two-man bobsled World Cup races held during the first week and two, four-man bobsled races held during the second week. There will also be women’s bobsledding and skeleton racing for men and women. The IBSF had not changed the schedule on its website by press time.

The IBSF cites technical issues with the refrigeration pump system on the Park City track as the reason for the rescheduling.

Bobsledder Codie Bascue rides through Curve 14 at Mount Van Hoevenberg on the men’s first run during the IBSF World Cup in February. (Enterprise file photo– Lou Reuter)

Pic 2 Bobsledder Codie Bascue rides through Curve 14 at Mount Van Hoevenberg on the men’s first run during the IBSF World Cup in February. (Enterprise file photo — Lou Reuter)

“Though the track management has acted immediately and tried to repair the system, it cannot guarantee that it will be ready by the time of the World Cup,” the IBSF stated. “In order to avoid any risk of not hosting the event it was decided to move it to Lake Placid.”

In its release, IBSF officials thanked Park City track management “for the swift and professional proceeding in this matter,” Jeff Potter at ORDA “for his support in taking over the event” and John Rosen of USA Bobsled & Skeleton “for coordinating the matter.”

“The immediate cooperation between the two track managements of Park City and Lake Placid shows their great commitment for bobsleigh and skeleton sports and we want to thank both Race Organizers,” the IBSF stated.

The Lake Placid races were announced by ORDA Tuesday as part of its winter schedule. After the first two World Cups are done, the circuit heads to Europe for World Cup racing Dec. 30 to Jan. 5 in Winterberg, Germany.

ORDA will host the Viessmann FIL Luge World Cup/BMW Sprint Cup from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 at Mount Van Hoevenberg, giving Lake Placid three straight weeks of World Cup racing on the American teams’ home track. Both USA Bobsled & Skeleton and USA Luge are based in Lake Placid.

Original source: Andy Flynn, AndirondackDaily

OFFICIAL: The 2020 Corvette Stingray Goes 0-60 MPH in 2.9 Seconds; Runs Quarter Mile in 11.2 @ 121 MPH

OFFICIAL: The 2020 Corvette Stingray Goes 0-60 MPH in 2.9 Seconds; Runs Quarter Mile in 11.2 @ 121 MPH

Chevrolet today revealed the long-awaited performance figures for the 2020 Corvette Stingray. While the various magazines and websites have been releasing their numbers, we’ve finally gotten the official word straight from Chevrolet.

The 2020 Stingray with the Z51 package will hit 60mph in 2.9 seconds and run the quarter-mile in 11.2 seconds at 121mph. The base Stingray without Z51 performs the 0-60 sprint in 3.0 seconds and covers the quarter-mile in 11.2 seconds but at 123 mph. That’s a whole lot of boogity, boogity, boogity for just $60,000. But why is the base car faster than the Z51 in the 1,320? It’s the same reason the Z51’s top speed is lower than the base car – aerodynamics. All that aero that keeps the car planted in the corners holds it back at high speeds in a straight line.

“The performance of the 2020 Stingray has far exceeded our expectations,” said Alex MacDonald, Chevrolet vehicle performance manager. “Moving more weight over the rear wheels helps us get off the line quicker, but it’s the integration between the powertrain and chassis that really takes the performance to new levels.”

The 2020 Corvette Stingray Goes 0-60 MPH in 2.9 Seconds; Runs Quarter Mile in 11.2 @ 121 MPH

All that performance is the result of harmonization between the 495hp LT2 engine and the 8-speed Tremec DCT. The transmission is built at Tremec’s Wixom, MI facility utilizing components produced Belgium, Mexico, and other locales. The DCT itself is a complex unit that contains the rear differential, final drive unit, its controls system, various sensors, its lubrication system, and the cooling hardware. It’s a combination of all these items in addition to the inherent advantages of mid-engine architecture that allow the C8 to achieve its mighty performance.

“The goal from the beginning was to design a transmission worthy of an exotic supercar that is fun to drive everyday,” said Terri Schulke, GM global chief engineer of transmissions. “We achieved that goal by combining the best attributes of the LT2 and the DCT, and I think the impressive performance numbers speak for themselves.”

We expect to hear more details, including official fuel economy ratings, now through the car’s February start of production.

The 2020 Corvette Stingray Goes 0-60 MPH in 2.9 Seconds; Runs Quarter Mile in 11.2 @ 121 MPH

Chevrolet Confirms 2020 Stingray Quickest in its History
LT2 V-8 engine and dual-clutch transmission combine for unprecedented performance

DETROIT — Jaws dropped when Chevrolet first announced the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray coupe would accelerate 0 to 60 mph in less than three seconds with the available Z51 Performance Package. Today, the brand confirms the sportscar with the available Z51 Package can reach 60 mph in 2.9 seconds and cross the quarter-mile mark in 11.2 seconds at 121 mph.

Even without the available Z51 Package, a base Stingray, starting at $59,995 (including destination charges, excluding tax, title, license, and dealer fees), can reach 60 mph in three seconds flat and cross the quarter mile mark in 11.2 seconds at 123 mph. Performance numbers may vary, as different climates, tire conditions and road surfaces may affect results.

“The performance of the 2020 Stingray has far exceeded our expectations,” said Alex MacDonald, Chevrolet vehicle performance manager. “Moving more weight over the rear wheels helps us get off the line quicker, but it’s the integration between the powertrain and chassis that really takes the performance to new levels.”

A full chart of the above performance specs is listed below:


This groundbreaking performance is achieved through a formula of rear weight bias, tire technology, aerodynamics, chassis tuning and of course, the powertrain. The 6.2L LT2 Small Block V-8 engine and eight-speed dual-clutch transmission are in many ways the stars of the show.

Chevy’s Small Block Hits the Gym

The LT2 is the only naturally aspirated V-8 in the segment and is SAE-certified at 495 horsepower (369 kW) and 470 lb.-ft. (637 Nm) of torque when equipped with performance exhaust, making it the most-powerful entry Corvette ever.

“The LT2 is one of our best efforts yet in Corvette’s history of naturally aspirated high-performance Small Block V-8 engines,” said Jordan Lee, GM’s global Chief Engineer of Small Block engines. “This engine is incredibly powerful and responsive. Power is readily available when the driver needs it.”

The standard engine-mounted dry sump oil system boasts three scavenge pumps, which help make this the most track-capable Stingray in history. The LT2’s lubrication system keeps oil in the dry sump tank and out of the engine’s crankcase. It provides exceptional engine performance even at lateral acceleration levels exceeding 1g in all directions. The low profile oil pan is high-pressure die-casted – similar to some of Corvette’s large body structure parts – to reduce mass and is only 3.5 mm thick. The LT2’s pan-mounted oil filter and cooler assembly has cored oil and coolant passages, allowing for a 25 percent increase in cooling capacity over the LT1.

Much of the LT2’s additional power can be attributed to how much better it breathes. The intake system is a low restriction design and incorporates identical 210mm length intake runners and an 87mm throttle body. The performance header exhaust manifolds are also low restriction and feature a stylized four-into-one design with twisted runners to allow for thermal expansion. The camshaft now has 14mm gross lift on the intake and exhaust with an increased duration for both profiles, which helps the combustion system take advantage of the extra flow capacity. The LT2 retains variable valve timing, with 62 crank degrees of cam phasing authority.

The LT2 has a very low-profile oil pan. This allows the engine to be mounted low in the vehicle for a low center of gravity and improves handling and track performance. The DCT’s flywheel dampener was even reduced in diameter to allow for the lower engine position.

Bespoke DCT Puts the Power Down

Chevy’s first eight-speed dual-clutch transmission was designed to do two things – put the LT2’s power down and put a smile on every driver’s face. The bespoke, transaxle transmission was developed with Tremec to provide uninterrupted torque delivery whether setting a new lap record or heading out on a roadtrip.

“The goal from the beginning was to design a transmission worthy of an exotic supercar that is fun to drive everyday,” said Terri Schulke, GM global chief engineer of transmissions. “We achieved that goal by combining the best attributes of the LT2 and the DCT, and I think the impressive performance numbers speak for themselves.”

Engineering decided to use a dual-clutch design because it better supports the Stingray’s new mid-engine architecture and desired performance. The DCT aids vehicle performance with a very low center of gravity, enables desired weight distribution and offers maximum traction under acceleration. It is a highly integrated system, as it houses the differential, final drive, controls system, sensors, lubrication and cooling hardware.

The heart of the DCT uses dual concentric wet clutches that are opened by springs and closed by hydraulic pressure. The two clutches work in tandem for uninterrupted torque delivery as they toggle between gears. A separate lube circuit is used for on-demand clutch cooling to reduce parasitic losses. Holes in the outer housing allow for the wet clutches to operate moist instead of submerged. Gear ratios were engineered to be incredibly low-end biased for maximum acceleration. First gear takes advantage of the additional traction to get off the line quickly and reach 60 mph in 2.9 seconds with the Z51 Performance Package. The Z51’s 11.2 second quarter-mile acceleration is achieved by lightning-fast upshifts and excellent low-end torque. The gear ratios are:


The final drive and differential are integrated for the first time and make for an incredibly efficient package. A mechanical slip differential is standard on all 2020 Stingrays. The mLSD has an effective final drive ratio of 4.9:1 and is intended for straight line acceleration and dynamic handling. An electronic limited slip differential is offered on the Z51 Performance Package and has an effective final drive ratio of 5.2:1. It is intended for ultimate control during track driving and commands more authority than previous generation eLSDs.

Though they have different purposes, the mLSD and eLSD were engineered together. They share a common ring and pinion gear ratio of 3.55:1. Their ring and pinion gears also use a zero offset spiral bevel as opposed to the typical hypoid arrangement, which allows for a common fluid to be used and benefits overall packaging.


Software Plays Key Role

Beyond hardware, the transmission software controls are really where customers will find the most tangible benefits. Most of these will feel familiar when toggling through varying driver modes:

  • Tour: Moves to the background to provide quiet, smooth shifts for optimal ride comfort.
  • Sport: Gives drivers altered up and downshifts for more spirited driving.
  • Track: Maximizes vehicle performance with aggressive gear selection expected to keep the engine in a peak performance window.

A proprietary algorithm will influence gear selection if the car senses spirited driving. The level of aggressiveness will change with modes, but when sensed, the DCT can downshift early on hard braking, hold gears when lifting off the throttle and alter shifts points with lateral acceleration. All behaviors are intended to increase driving enjoyment and avoid unnecessary shifting.

To achieve peak acceleration numbers on the Stingray, drivers must initiate a performance launch. Once in Track mode, double pressing the traction control button will put the vehicle in Performance Traction Management for Magnetic Ride Control-equipped cars or Competitive driving mode for all others. Once prepared, the driver can then fully depress the brake and accelerator pedal together, and then release the brake pedal once 3,500 RPM are reached. Extensive work went into ensuring the DCT felt like the best of both worlds: the spirited, direct connected feeling of a manual and the premium driving comfort of an automatic. The magnesium steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters give a premium feel when pulled. For the most responsive shifts possible, the shift signal is sent directly to the transmission control module the moment the paddle pull begins. This avoids any communications delay through other modules and allows drivers precise control of their gear selection.

Unique features of the ergonomic paddles are:

  • Double paddle declutch – pull both paddles simultaneously to simulate pressing a clutch pedal.
  • Temporary manual – simply use either paddle while in Drive, and the vehicle will temporarily switch to manual mode.
  • Lowest available gear – hold the downshift paddle and the transmission will shift to the lowest available gear for a quick burst of torque.

The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray coupe and convertible are available to order at certified Chevrolet dealerships nationwide or on Chevrolet.com.

Source:
Chevrolet.com

2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Review: Say Goodbye to the Bad Guy

Early-build C8 Corvettes are hard at work, ginning up enthusiasm for the biggest sea change in America’s sports car since the C2 dropped the stick axle. The 2020 Corvette is an extraordinary car that makes extraordinary numbers at an extraordinary price—and we would expect nothing less. But before we rush headlong into the mid-engine era, can we stop and appreciate the outgoing C7 one last time?

Because it seems unfair, really, that the 2019 Corvette ZR1 has already become a thing of history, just another Vette in the model’s long and storied line. This is the culmination of not just the most recent generation of Corvette, but also the entire 66 years of the front-engine paradigm. Certainly, it is the costliest Corvette ever (and the highest-priced vehicle GM currently sells), with our test car ringing the bell at $142,075.

You spend that money for more power than in a regular Stingray—300 horses more. This is not unlike having an extra V-6 Camaro engine bolted to the top of your Corvette’s 6.2-liter V-8. Except the ZR1 actually employs a supercharger, with which the big, bad LT5 can blow even the brick house down, making 755 horsepower and 715 lb-ft of torque. Chevrolet says all that power comes from using both direct injection and good, old-fashioned port injection, a trick that also helps the Silverado return better gas mileage.

At idle the ZR1 rumbles like a seismic event and its rips and crackles at full snort are the sounds of a natural disaster. Hang on and hope that you don’t do anything stupid, like keep your foot in it for too long or try to outsmart its eight-speed automatic. (A seven-speed manual is also available.) Things happen quickly in the ZR1 and there is no chance of running out of car before you run out of road. It may not produce the acceleration numbers of an all-wheel-drive Tesla Model S Performance, but the violence of internal combustion in the Corvette augments its own sensation of speed to produce a far more visceral drive.

Indeed, the ZR1 must rank among the baddest sports cars to ever roll on four tires. In this case, those are sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s that owners should probably think about buying in bulk. Yet before the ZR1 was even launched, it was guaranteed to be overshadowed by the C8, just as it would be doomed to share most of its interior bits with the not-aging-so-well C7. Was it really only six years ago that this cabin seemed modern? But Chevy can’t really be blamed for spending money on interior upgrades for the new car rather than throwing good money after bad on this one-and-done special.

Behind the wheel, the view out over the vast hood of the ZR1 is like nothing likely to come again. The tops of its sharp fender creases still call to mind the outrageous C3, but they no longer seem like peaks compared to the mountain range in the center of the hood. The protruding carbon-fiber engine cover stands proud of the hood and is good for at least couple taps up on the power-seat adjuster. If the optional Competition Sport seats are too tight and the Track Performance package too stiff for the comfort of your average Corvette owner, well, those are items you add to your ZR1 when the pursuit of lap times render money no object.

Like its Z06 and Grand Sport siblings, the extra-wide ZR1 makes any road feel narrow, and makes narrow roads seem like goat paths. Thankfully its steering is prescient and immediate, giving the car an astounding athleticism. Talking about things like handling and grip after driving a ZR1 on the street is akin to holding forth on surgical techniques after binge watching Grey’s Anatomy. If the Cessna wing blocking access to the trunk isn’t a strong enough hint that exploring the limits of a ZR1 anywhere that doesn’t require a balaclava and helmet is a bad idea, maybe you’ve just sniffed too much of the ZR1’s resinous off-gassing. That cologne is yet another reminder that even at 218 percent of the price of a base Stingray, the ZR1 is still 100 percent C7.

With first tests of the C8 showing that it’s quicker to 60 miles per hour than the ZR1, the King of Corvettes has already abdicated its throne. It seems sea changes occasionally happen in the blink of an eye.

Originally written by Jeff Sabatini; Automobile

2020 Corvette Production Start Slides to February with Convertibles Starting in 2nd Quarter

It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster since Chevrolet first starting accepting orders in September for the 2020 Corvette Stingray Coupe.

After the first order consensus in September, Chevrolet scheduled the first wave of retail production to begin in early December. But then came the nearly 6-week long UAW strike which shut everything down. As the strike was ongoing, the Target Production Weeks (TPW) for those early builds were pushed back into mid-to-late January.

Once the strike ended, we were hoping for some positive news about the TPWs as they all disappeared from the GM Order System late last week. But then they came back and we are finding out that retail production of the 2020 Corvettes will most likely start on February 3rd.

We do not have official confirmation on this, but that’s what we are hearing from our dealers as well as customers with current TPWs. I have seen a TPW posted on the Corvette Forum that indicated a 1/27 start and that could also be possible depending on when Chevrolet does a run of CTF cars for marketing and other purposes.

Chevrolet does have a graduated roll-out planned for the C8 Corvette which we’ve also talked about previously. Originally the plan was to build 2LT and 3LT cars first (with certain options and colors) and then begin to add additional colors and options until all models, colors and options were available. The 1LTs were originally scheduled to begin 10 weeks after the start of production but included in that original 10 week period was the two-week Christmas/New Years shutdown, and so we estimate the 1LTs will most likely start in early April.

And then that brings us to the Convertibles which were originally supposed to start in February. Our best guess is that the start of production for the Convertible Stingrays would also begin sometime in mid-to-late April or even early May as well.

During the strike, the order consensus for October which was supposed to cover weeks 3-5 of production was canceled. The next order consensus for the 2020 Corvettes will pick back up this month. When that happens, we’ll have a constraint report to bring everyone back up to date.

Current 2020 Corvette Orders Undergoing Updates to TPWs

Production of the new mid-engine 2020 Corvette Stingray was expected to start the week of December 2nd. But then the UAW strike happened, which pushed the earliest TPWs (Target Production Weeks) for those buyers with accepted orders back to January 20th at the earliest. Others have reported that updates to their TPWs pushed the start of their cars into February.

But now that the strike is over and the Corvette Assembly Plant has reopened, things are starting to get back to normal. After several days to assess their current situation, the Corvette team may be getting ready to make new adjustments to the current Corvette orders.

Over the last two days, we’ve heard from customers and dealers alike who have reported that current orders no longer have any Target Production Weeks attached them. Dealers are saying there are no TPWs in the order system.

This sounds like good news to us.

The Corvette Assembly Plant still has to knock out the remaining C7 orders, and plant spokesperson Rackel Bagshaw confirmed earlier this week that the plant will be down from November 18th – December 6th for C8 retooling.

If that’s the case, then perhaps we’ll see the first TPWs shifted back to December 2019. That would be fantastic news as then the strike would have only delayed the start of C8 production by just a week. Of course, the flip side is that TPWs could be moved even further into 2020 which is a very real possibility as well. Stay tuned on this and for those of you with orders, be patient!

Keith Cornett; CorvetteBlogger

2020 Performance Car of the Year

Eleven worthy competitors, one surprising winner.

Crowning the Road & Track Performance Car of the Year is not an easy task. Each fall, we gather every new or revised performance car that we can get our hands on. While some of these candidates naturally worm into our hearts, this is more than a popularity contest—the award doesn’t simply go to the machine we like the most or the one we think is the coolest. PCOTY is about looking to the future and finding the car that provides the most hope for the enthusiast: a machine that offers everything you expect of a modern vehicle yet still tugs at the heart.

To pick a winner, we used the following criteria:

  • Outright speed and testing numbers are part of the package, but they don’t determine the winner. Beyond sheer pace, a car has to bring emotion to the table.
  • The car must embrace track duty while still being enjoyable on the road.
  • Technology has to be used in service of the driver, not just added speed. Feedback and sensation via complexity is great, but complexity alone doesn’t cut it.
  • Lastly, we ask ourselves, would any other manufacturer build it? Does the car feel uniquely of its story and brand, with a personality all its own?

This year’s test saw 11 cars join us for two days at Northern California’s Thunderhill Raceway Park. A staff vote at the end of our track time cut the field to six contenders. Those six were then road-tripped on a winding, demanding test route through the Sierra Nevada, ending at Lake Tahoe. A final vote at the end of the journey determined the winner.

You might be wondering why we elected to conduct track testing first this year. Past PCOTY contests have tested cars on the road first, then trekked to a closed course. Our current method gave the staff a chance to drive every car in similar conditions, learning their limits in a safe, controlled environment.

When it came to lap times, we enlisted a licensed club racer with no Thunderhill experience: me. We did this for a reason, and it wasn’t to build my ego. Most of our readers are not pro drivers. When you buy a new car, a professional’s lap time at any track is an interesting metric, but it’s rarely reflective of a normal person’s experience. We wanted to stress accessibility and adaptability. How easy is it to get up to speed in a given car? How communicative is the car? Is it hard to learn the quirks? Under the watchful eyes of our testing staff, every PCOTY contender got a quick warm-up session to set tire pressures, then no more than seven timed laps. Just enough to establish a representative lap and suss idiosyncrasies, not enough to set a record.

Of course, no method is perfect. Ambient temperature during our lapping day started at around 85 degrees Fahrenheit and eventually hit 107. That kind of heat doesn’t help lap speed, and it ensured that late runners needed shorter stints, as times immediately dropped off. While I made every attempt to, as one of our contributors once said, “underserve all the cars equally,” most amateur drivers will get faster over the course of a day at a track they had never before seen, learning the pavement’s nuances, and I am no exception. With those caveats in mind, it’s best to view the lap times as bellwether, not absolute. A loose guide to judge the spectacular machinery on these pages.

In the end, that’s the key. We hold PCOTY testing each year as reason to celebrate the future of the performance car, not lament it. The industry is undergoing transformation. More than ever, regulations try to force automakers into a box. Consumer trends lean toward amorphous appliances. At Road & Track, we drive hundreds of new cars each year, which means our affection for hydraulic steering, natural aspiration, lightweight efficiency, and a good, old-fashioned stick shift is tested on a regular basis.

Yet look at the field we have here. These cars are proof that there’s still plenty to be excited about. None of them fade into the background or aim to remove you from the experience. In a time when we’re told that the driverless car is around the corner, these machines put the driver squarely at the front of the experience. As it should be.

—Travis Okulski

Frequently Asked Questions

What is this PCOTY thing?

One of this magazine’s crown jewels: A racetrack. A multi-day road route covering hundreds of miles. A king anointed among the year’s most significant new sports and exotic cars. Our priorities are emotion, engineering cohesion, relevance, and price, in that order. Plus beef jerky. (It’s a road trip. There’s always beef jerky.)

Sounds expensive.

It’s not cheap. While fast cars have to work in cities, they’re most effectively and safely tested in the middle of nowhere. In this case, that meant shipping employees and equipment to a remote location, then orchestrating hotels, food, support vehicles, data collection, and two photographers. (Plus we spent $5 on giant stick-on googly eyes.)

Googly eyes?

That was senior editor Zach Bowman. Never give a Tennessean a corporate card in a Walmart.

Did you stick them on something?

One of the dim-looking minivans we use for chase and photography.

What did that poor van do to you?

Not much. But Bowman did walk out of that Walmart with a CD copy of Black Sabbath’s 1970 masterpiece Paranoid, because he wanted to hear “War Pigs” at ear-bleed level while wearing aviator sunglasses and doing van burnouts at stoplights.

That sounds awfully specific.

PCOTY is all about specifics. And generals gathered in their masses.

I’m sure nothing went wrong.

One staffer “ran out of pavement” (his words) and put the McLaren off at Thunderhill. (No one was hurt, and the car was fine.) The Lexus and Lotus got flat tires. And one of our vans was broken into in San Francisco—they took deputy editor Bob Sorokanich’s backpack, but not the copy of Paranoid. Editor-at-large Sam Smith left an open bag of Haribo gummy bears in the van during the break-in and then grumped for a bit because the bag had broken glass in it.

Was Bob upset?

Smith was heartbroken.

Who are the other mooks here?

Staff mooks joined by contributing mooks! Some adept at track driving, others with a penchant for sussing out a car’s foibles on the road. While a few fancy themselves engineers, others have actual engineering know-how. But all love sports cars and have strong opinions about which end of the Corvette should house the engine. You could say each participant brought a very particular set of skills.

Like Liam Neeson in Taken.

Only with more Lamborghini. And Bob, a professional editor who intimidates approximately nobody, speaking calmly about his backpack theft. (“I have a particular set of skills with… adjectives.”)

Why Thunderhill Raceway Park?

It’s a perfect arena. Demanding of both driver and car, modern, safe. Plus great roads in spitting distance.

The mid-engine Corvette: how’d you get a car so rare and new?

We asked to borrow a preproduction C8 from GM. They said yes, with caveats. The Corvette had minders, and they took the car back each night, checking it over. We also had to agree to an embargo, keeping drive impressions confidential for weeks.

What a peek behind the curtain! Got any more secrets?

Maybe! Ask Matt Farah about his superpower. Ask Bowman why he had an obsession with Gatorade Limon Pepino. And whatever you do, don’t ask Smith and Jason Cammisa what happens when Gladys Knight’s “Midnight Train to Georgia” hits the radio on a road trip. They will demonstrate. And you will regret it.

Notable Absences

This year’s PCOTY field was one of our strongest, but as with every year, there were notable absences. The absentees generally fall into one of three categories: the car you’re thinking of wasn’t launched as a new vehicle in the year preceding PCOTY testing (and was thus ineligible), the manufacturer wouldn’t lend us one (privately owned test cars are impractical), or the car in question just isn’t any good. Here are the models that received invitations but couldn’t make the party.

2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera: A lightweight DB11 with 715 hp. Aston elected to not participate in the test.

2020 Audi R8: The first facelifted R8s arrived in the U.S. a week before our test. Sadly, there wasn’t enough time to get one shipped to Thunderhill.

2020 BMW M8: The new flagship M car was first shown in June, but BMW only made it available for review (in Europe) the same week as PCOTY.

2020 Ferrari F8 Tributo: The 710-hp V-8 from the wild, track-focused 488 Pista, in a more road-oriented package. Ferrari couldn’t provide one during our test window.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500: Supercharged V-8 and hellacious speed, but Ford didn’t provide test cars to journalists until a month after PCOTY testing.

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT R Pro:
A track-attack version of a car already known for circuit prowess. Only hitch: the first GT R Pros didn’t cross the Atlantic until the tail end of 2019, after this issue shipped to the printer.

2020 Polestar 1: A 600-hp, hybrid, carbon-bodied GT from Volvo’s new electric-performance offshoot. Polestar wasn’t ready to let us borrow one, but don’t worry—we’ll drive it soon.

2020 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4: On paper, a PCOTY front-runner. Which is a shame, because Porsche had no test cars in the country.

2020 Subaru WRX STI S209: The WRX STI might be a few years old, but the S209 promises to be the best version yet. Subaru held a media test event for the car during PCOTY week, so its loaner 209s were all tied up.

HYPERCARS

We love bleeding-edge science experiments from companies like Bugatti, Koenigsegg, Pagani, and Rimac, but hypercars just don’t fit the spirit of this particular test. Mostly because of their near-unattainable prices. We’ve made exceptions in the past, due to circumstance or serendipity (last year’s PCOTY included a McLaren Senna, for example), but in this case, we preferred to avoid the archetype.

—Chris Perkins

Where We Drove

We based the 2020 Performance Car of the Year test out of Willows, California, mostly for the town’s proximity to Thunderhill Raceway. The staff of this magazine spent two days there, setting lap times and evaluating the competitors in the rolling grass north of Sacramento.

Two days at any track is a blessing, but turning laps is less than half of what makes a sports car compelling. Everything about a Lotus or a McLaren hints at where the machine might take you, the lines of the thing whispering how the two of you might burn a tank of fuel. Or three.

We were aiming for gold country. Those mountains played stage to the 1800s boom that brought more than 300,000 people to Northern California in search of a fortune. By 1855, the rush had largely turned to bust, the masses vanishing as quickly as they had appeared. Those people left plenty behind—mostly vestigial towns dotting the hills, but also a spiderweb of wagon-route roads connecting them. On a map, the highways look like sports-car catnip. We only had to get there.

The farmland around Willows is flat and drab, fruit orchards aligned in dusty grids. Our unlikely caravan shot through it in the morning, over Highway 162, a thin needle across the state’s Central Valley, from Willows to Oroville. It’s strange and beautiful, home to the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. Great egrets loped through the wetlands on either side of the highway. They chased their reflections for one slow-motion moment, then turned skyward.

Whatever envy we felt only lasted as long as it took us to make our way to Highway 70. The two-lane runs vaguely northeast, winding up and through a fir forest from Oroville. A year ago, the Camp Fire, California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire, devoured the landscape, and the place still shows the scars of it. Gutted stone homes, black tree trunks like charcoal scrawls. But that road is a work of art, the pavement stitched to the north fork of the Feather River as it pools and falls down the mountain.

The water runs through the core of California’s mother lode, a seam of gold-rich land just three miles wide but more than 120 miles long. John Bidwell found gold in the Feather in 1848 just outside Oroville, creating what would become Bidwell’s Bar, one of the richest mines in the area. Three years later, the place was home to 2000 miners, each aimed at digging money from the ground.

The radio crackled. It was contributor Matt Farah.

“I don’t know who picked this road, but it’s spectacular.”

Farah is a Californian, an East Coast transplant who lives in Venice Beach. He’s a journalist and R&T contributor who spends his days driving around the state, and there we were, on a stretch of pavement he’d never seen. Proof that a hundred lifetimes wouldn’t show you every inch of California. When we stopped for a driver change, the judges gathered on the side of the road. We’re all prone to big gestures and loud voices, but something about that place, the sound of the water and the stillness of those trees, kept us quieter than usual, our vocabularies sapped by the sight of Northern California at its finest. Editor-at-large Sam Smith looked down at the Feather, a coil of green basins. “I can’t believe this is in the same state as Los Angeles.”

Some of our favorite roads are wedded to water, and Highway 70 is one of the best. We chased it upstream for better than an hour. It was already autumn in the hills, the light sharp and clear as it filtered through the trees and splashed over our windshields. Far below, sunbathers and fishermen sat on the banks in the sunlight, oblivious to our passing as the road writhed over steel-trestle bridges and through old stone tunnels.

We paused in Quincy for fuel, the cars jockeying for pumps. The day before, in Willows, it had been 107 degrees, but we’d been gaining elevation with every switchback, and the air now sat closer to 50. None of us dressed warmly enough, but we didn’t care. Every convertible had its top back and the heat cranked, an idiot grin glowing from the driver’s seat. We left the gas station and took off toward Quincy’s main street, then hung a right on Highway 119. The road abandoned the river and climbed further into the ragged mountains.

Up there, teetering snow poles marked the shoulder, placed to guide plows through the winter. They towered over the cars. Suddenly, the sepia photos we saw in every convenience store made sense: 1930s Fords and ’40s Buicks parked beside 20-foot walls of ice and snow.

Highway 119 spilled onto the long, windswept Bucks Lake, and we arrived in a blink, settling into the gravel lot at Lakeshore Resort, a small restaurant and lodge on the shore. With the cars tucked in next to local pickups, we headed inside for lunch. The restaurant’s back patio was drenched in that crackling sunlight that seems so particular to Northern California afternoons. Iced tea arrived by the pitcher, and we washed down burgers as bald eagles circled the lake.

Senior editor Kyle Kinard looked out over the water, whitecaps forming on the surface, whipped up by a far-off wind. He had planned the route, arriving weeks before to scout the path and lay out a map.

“I don’t know how to say this without overselling what’s coming, but it gets better from here.”

After lunch, we turned onto Highway 120 toward La Porte, another wonder. Tighter even than the climb to Bucks Lake, the pavement ascending thousands of feet. In some spots, the road narrowed to one lane, the pavement necking between sheer rock walls and thick stands of trees. One moment, we dived into a set of wooded hairpins. The next, we broke into a clearing above a thousand-foot drop. Kinard was right.

The rest of the day carried on the same. A series of exclamation points. After the mountain, the road unwound, Highway 120’s tight bends making way for a river of fresh tarmac. The trees thinned, replaced by golden fields and stocky barns covered in flaking red paint. The caravan dropped into high gear, enjoying a few miles of lazy pace as the sun set.

Night descended as we made our way toward Tahoe, parading through one camp town after another. We caught Highway 49 through Tahoe National Forest, the trees turning to dark pillars in the fading light. The cooler air made for eager engines, exhausts popping and echoing through the woods. The group spread out, and it wasn’t until we caught up to each other at a stop sign, leading onto a highway, that someone noted we had all been running windows down, stereos off.

We called it a night outside Truckee, filling the garage and driveway of an Airbnb house with more than half a million dollars of sports cars. Editor-in-chief Travis Okulski stood in the drive for a moment, hands in his pockets, surveying the cars as everyone gathered luggage.

“This whole day has been like a movie,” he said.

It was true. We’d run through a series of driving bests. We had watched the roads spiral and contract, fell head over heels for a corner of California as the sun sank low. How many perfect days behind the wheel do you get, really? Sports cars demand so much from your life. Time. Space. Money. They don’t fit the family. They cannot brave a Costco run. Most spend their days slogging through a commute or languishing in a garage. But a good run up a clear bit of asphalt can wipe all that away. A day of it is the stuff of fantasy.

When we woke the next morning, we found ourselves with a pile of sports cars in the heart of some of the country’s best driving. We loaded up again and pointed at Donner Pass. California can be an insufferable place. Expensive and full of itself, but also so gorgeous it hurts, packed with more perfect roads per mile than anywhere else in the nation. The route up the pass felt as precious as all that ore Bidwell and his miners pulled out of those ridges. From up there, Donner Lake shone in the sun, reflecting that unreal California sky back at itself. We parked the cars and marveled.

Installation Lap

You rip toward Turn 1. The straight is shorter than it looks. Fourth gear, though, at the end. Then into the first corner, a tight left-right combo. Looks like a needle-thread: Huck the car in, all the brake for the right, trailing it, maybe, to keep the nose under you in the corner’s second half. Don’t put it in the grass; people put it in the grass here. (Remember the old saw: don’t look for the wall, or you’ll find it.)

Uphill to the right after that. Turn 2, a third-gear left that goes on forever, painted across a hill. Camber will probably make the car push wide in the midcorner, the nose indifferent and light, and then the front tires set, third or fourth gear as the corner opens into the downhill straight that follows, the tail on casters.

Delicacy! Two corners in, it’s obvious: this place wants finesse.

Turn 3 leaps into your face. Overslowing will happen, because it looks tighter than it is. Mountains to the west, filling the windshield. The first time through 3, you realize you can straight-line the sucker, ripping over the curb. Some cars fly a wheel or two. Then the track changes again, blind, Turns 4 and 5, undulating pavement and no camber where you need it, big grassy berms on exit. The car doesn’t turn, then it turns too much. Turn 5 pinches down and seems to want you in that dirt. It’s a quick transition, but you have to keep your hands tidy or the car won’t settle enough to stay on the pavement.

A breath. Bit of a break, the track seems to open up here.

Six seems normal. It’s not. Your first time through here is also a wake-up, a realization as the pavement appears: 6 connects to 7! So you place the car properly or run out of road when you least expect, committed to a line you can’t see, the exit over a hill. There are divots in the grass at the exit, bites in the dirt where people have tried to hit it early, snipe a little more speed on entry, a little more room on the way out.

Seven is a tight left, arm over arm. Doesn’t feel right and probably can’t. Eight and 9 are waiting games. You go up and over the blind-right 8, cresting a hill at the apex, taillights light. Down into a tight, grippy right for 9, and finally the slow, hard left of 10, a release onto the straight.

It feels like walking through an open door—all that paved runoff, hands unwound as soon as you can, right mirror almost kissing the tires stacked next to the wall. The car yelling its guts out, waiting for 1 again. Lot going on here, you think, passing the flag stand. Do it better next time, your inner voice says, as you wrap that first lap.

And with every one after.

—Sam Smith

Lap Times

Mazda Miata RF 1:34.64

Hyundai Veloster N 1:31.44

Toyota Supra 1:28.93

Lexus RC F Track 1:27.56

BMW M2 Competition 1:26.91

Lotus Evora GT 1:25.35

Nissan GT-R Nismo 1:23.80

Porsche 911 Carrera S 1:23.08

Chevrolet Corvette 1:22.83

McLaren 600LT 1:20.42

Lamborghini Huracán Evo 1:20.00

We Chose a Hyundai

A Hyundai hatchback, over some of the most significant supercars of our era. Over the second coming of the Toyota Supra, an all-new Porsche 911, and even that beast of myth and legend, the mid-engine Corvette.

It seems impossible. But before you set this magazine on fire and use it to light a pitchfork-lined path to our door, understand that the Hyundai was not the convenient answer.

Politics and popular opinion all but demanded we hand our laurels to a brand with a dusty pedigree. Over the course of PCOTY testing, each of our judges squirreled away feelings on the hatchback, guarding them from others for fear of ridicule or expulsion. But the truth is simple: the 2020 Hyundai Veloster N is a greater celebration of the philosophies we treasure than any other new vehicle.

Let me explain.

There were 11 cars, handpicked and brilliant. They had to prove capable and engaging on the two undulating miles of Thunderhill Raceway Park’s West track before we’d set them loose on our demanding public-road test route. After two days of track time, only six cars would be allowed to join us on the street drive.

The job should have been easy work for machines like the McLaren 600LT, the Lamborghini Huracán Evo, and the Nissan GT-R NISMO, but 2019 was a big year for sports cars. The Supra has returned. The Chevrolet Corvette is mid-engine for the first time. And the Porsche 911 has entered an all-new generation, a sharper, stronger iteration of the world’s most versatile fast car. The others were no less honed, representing every facet of performance, from affordable gems like the Mazda Miata RF Club and the Hyundai, to serious hardware like the sleeper BMW M2 Competition, the bristling Lexus RC F Track, and the exotic, focused Lotus Evora GT.

We’ve never had such a competitive or disparate group of vehicles, each with an honest shot at taking home the prize. This isn’t an editor’s-choice award or a lap-time sprint for gold. Road & Track’s Performance Car of the Year must work well on a track, but it can’t be a one-trick pony; excellent apex behavior must give way to on-road competence. And most of all, a PCOTY winner has to use its technology in service of driver emotion, not just loftier speed. Automakers are increasingly occupied with deleting humanity from the automotive experience, and these days, speed is easy. The harder job is building a car worth driving.

So the Supra should have won, right? It’s a fast, ultra-modern coupe pointed directly at people like us. The Supra nameplate, with its long and storied history, is now engineered in concert with a company—BMW—that rose to prominence selling “the Ultimate Driving Machine.”

Except the Toyota didn’t win. Our judges voted it out, almost unanimously, in the initial cut. The car didn’t leave the track.

Why? How? The Supra is a magnet, low and small and absolutely electric, our testers trying to hide their excitement at simply seeing the thing, let alone driving it. But there’s not much Supra here—none of the name’s legendary solidity and brawn—or even much Toyota. The chassis and driveline are shared with the BMW Z4; the badge on the hood has a BMW part number. The interior smells like a BMW. And despite the Toyota-specific suspension and driveline tune, the car suffers from the same maladies that plague most modern BMWs.

Not that it isn’t seriously fast. Editor-in-chief Travis Okulski took the Supra to a ripping 1:28.93 around Thunderhill West, only a few tenths slower than the more powerful RC F Track. Much of the Supra’s time came from its spectacular front-end grip and precision, the front tires responsive and predictable, though filtered through dead steering. But the real problem is in how the thing does its job. At the limit, it can be twitchy and distant.

“The Toyota somehow manages to be joyless,” editor-at-large Sam Smith said, after his first session. “There’s no reward for focus, no incentive to be a hooligan… It doesn’t feel like any fast Toyota I’ve driven. None of the confidence or unflappability of a second- or third-generation Supra.”

Some of this likely lies at the feet of the car’s maker—without undoing a single fastener, we counted 28 separate uses of the word “BMW,” or the BMW logo, under the Supra’s hood. For a few years now, the Bavarians have been content to turn out cars the mechanical equivalent of the music student who can hit every note at recital but still miss the point of a piece. No surprise, then, that the BMW M2 Competition suffers some of the Supra’s pitfalls, despite clocking an impressive 1:26.91. With 405 hp, the 3600-pound M2 is far from slow, but BMW seems to have worked hard to isolate the driver. All that hustle occurs through a cotton filter. The steering is light and vague. The extra grunt and suspension stiffness over the discontinued, 365-hp base M2 are part of a wholesale trade, exchanging a bit of that car’s talk for straight-line speed and a willingness to drift.

“I have mixed feelings,” contributor Ross Bentley said. “It’s not a bad car, just not what it should be. Good brakes, a little too much understeer. It gives confidence because it’s not going to do anything bad.”

A shame, because nearly everyone praised the M2’s slick gearbox and perfectly positioned pedals. Proof that deep down, BMW still remembers the pleasure of a manual transmission. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to make the cut for the road portion of the test. Heartbreaking for a group of judges packed with BMW owners.

And those cars weren’t alone. PCOTY always carries a few surprises and underdogs. The Lexus RC F was out of its depth in this company, but we adored the car’s audacity, its snorty V-8 and too-stiff chassis. It’s a perfect caricature of a Dodge Challenger: great and hilarious, but unrefined and outshined.

Nothing paints a clearer picture of the field’s competitiveness than the strengths of the vehicles left behind. Five cars had to go, and the Lexus was too flawed to stay. Same for the Nissan GT-R NISMO. Who cares that the GT-R is now in its 12th model year? The Nissan is effortlessly fast and laugh-out-loud entertaining. Of all the six-digit cars on hand, it was also the only one that didn’t come with an army of factory minders. Just one guy in a Nissan Armada carrying an extra set of tires. When we asked him if we should make any concessions for the test’s 107-degree heat, maybe bleed off tire pressures, he just shrugged and smiled.

“Nah, it’ll be fine.”

It was. Despite being the heaviest car in the running, the 3865-pound GT-R popped a 1:23.80, less than a second behind both the Porsche and the Corvette. Nissan has improved the car almost every year since its 2007 launch, taking it from distant missile to talkative weapon. The NISMO feels like an old friend, but this year’s updates weren’t enough to keep its head above water. A great car outdone by exceptional ones.

The Lamborghini was also glorious, but it didn’t leave the track, either. Prior to PCOTY, most of us had only experienced the 630-hp, V-10-powered Huracán Evo on public streets, where phrases like “involuntary manslaughter” and “reckless endangerment” shackle you to what’s possible. Unleashed on a closed circuit, the Evo proved its abilities. Miraculous and terrifying ones, mostly. Violent shifts that echo like small-arms fire. Acceleration that rummages through your stomach to see what you had for lunch. That all-wheel-drive system performs the unnatural with a shrug, thanks partly to a front end that feels stitched to the ground. And when you think you’ve come to the edge of that ocean of traction, the Lamborghini digs around in its cupboard and produces another pitcher of the stuff. Trip into a slide, the car almost catches itself, despite feeling big as a city block.

The Evo was hands-down the fastest car around the course. The sound chased it from corner to corner, a Doppler flag marking position. In a field packed with muted and turbocharged exhaust notes, that barking, naturally aspirated engine could not have stood further apart.

“Lamborghinis are supposed to be all style and no substance,” said contributing editor Jason Cammisa. “This has both in equal measure.”

Okulski had just stepped from the car after his laps when Smith cornered him, curious.

“Remember 2018’s Huracán Performante?” Okulski asked.

“Yeah. Sublime. Nothing wrong with it,” Smith said.

“This is better.”

The only problem lurked on pit lane in white paint. A cannon that bumped the Lamborghini from the list of finalists despite being slower around the track. From its nonsensical doors and carbon-fiber buckets to its airy cockpit and turbocharged, theatrical V-8, the McLaren 600LT managed to out-occasion the Huracán at every turn. The LT had the same lightning acceleration, just married to a lithe chassis and the most tactile steering in the business.

Switching from McLaren to Lamborghini was like trading skin and bone for a pattern of pixels. And while the ever-stable Huracán seems to always have a guiding hand on your back, the McLaren could not care less if you chased your dumbest instincts. Drop the hammer in a second-gear hairpin and it does exactly what a 592-horse rear-driver should: spit you sideways in smoke and noise, the limiter kicking at your skull. The British car accomplished as much as the Italian but said more in the process, pushed you to greater heights. Shouted messages to your spine where the Huracán was all murmurs. And when it came down to it, that was the common thread through our six finalists—a hint that someone in R&D did more than tick boxes.

So we left that Lamborghini behind. The McLaren led the pack on the way out of Willows as we hopscotched a series of slow-moving 18-wheelers. The Veloster was next, followed by the 911 and the Corvette. The Miata bopped along behind, the Lotus and its supercharged bark last in line. We worked our way east, toward Tahoe.

Passing in a 600LT is a profanity. Tap the left paddle twice, check the oncoming lane, then plant your right foot and wait for England to put a boot to your chest. For all of our braying about speed’s irrelevance, there’s plenty to be said for a straight road. And while the McLaren’s capabilities are far past the legal limit, the car has other tricks. You can fold the hardtop or roll down the back cabin glass to let that V-8 gasp in your ear.

Before you die, try to execute at least one full-throttle rip through a mountain tunnel in a 600LT with the roof peeled back. It’ll make the best-of when your life flashes before your eyes.

Our stops turned into mini conferences, judges gathering to point and pick at the cars.

“I cannot believe they just let regular people buy these,” contributor Matt Farah said, gesturing at the McLaren. “It’s so obscenely fast. Feels like the craziest engine on Earth is bolted to your spine.”

“It’s the car Lotus wishes they could build,” deputy editor Bob Sorokanich added. “It simply disappears underneath you.”

The Corvette, too, had a way of vanishing in your hands. Few vehicles have felt so uniquely crafted to flip our switches. Our test car, a pre-production unit supplied by GM, brought caveats. For the record, this is not generally how we like to do things. There can be wide gulfs between a car’s test-build performance and job one, and judging a nearly complete effort isn’t always fair. But the eighth-generation Vette is the most significant sports car in recent memory, and GM said that if we wanted that icon in this year’s PCOTY, we had to accept a prepro car.

No one cared when they rolled it out of the trailer. The Chevrolet turned us into children, pointing and crawling over it even as it was backed from the hauler. The C8 is a weird cocktail of familiar and foreign. It smells like Corvette inside, that faint whiff of glue. The valve covers are sparkly, bass-boat red. You can stuff a live human into the cavernous rear trunk. A single individual can remove and stow the roof panel. You sit so far forward, all but atop the front axle. Which is partly why the steering feels instantaneous.

The Corvette has been nipping at supercar heels for years, and it finally seems poised to take a proper bite. The C8 is a brilliant car. “Some elements—engine blueprint, sound, power delivery—are emphatically Corvette,” said senior editor Kyle Kinard. “Others—seating position, turn-in, rotation—aren’t.” As Smith pointed out, the Corvette has always been centered on the democratization of an experience: an affordable version of the European sports car in the 1950s, of the cocaine-cruiser highway vibe of BMW and Mercedes-Benz in the 1980s, and in recent years, Porsche-besting performance with a Silverado price tag. Viewed through that lens, as a Lamborghini for Lubbock, it is pure success.

But there are kinks. The C8’s cabin felt more claustrophobic than that of the front-engined C7, and someone in the General Motors chain of command decided that this car, mid-engine for the first time, needed to drive a lot like the old one. Steering aside, it feels very much like a C7, minus a bit of balance. We missed the liveliness and poise of other mid-engine cars, the nose grip. The delta prompted a question: if you’re going to scrap 66 years of brand precedent and abandon the manual transmission altogether, why look back? Go for broke.

Still, you could make an argument that such things are irrelevant. So the Corvette doesn’t pirouette like a European supercar costing twice as much. Who cares? In Okulski’s lapping, the Chevrolet was still quicker than its longtime rival, the 911, beating the German by a quarter of a second.

And on the road to Tahoe, it was as good as a Corvette has ever been. Comfortable and relaxed when you wanted, eating miles with that V-8 barely breathing. Or sharp and alive, dicing through switchbacks.

When we stopped for fuel, curious strangers lingered near the fleet, making slow passes on their way to the cashier. The Corvette was king, onlookers ignoring the McLaren and 911 for a better look at the C8. In that crowd, certain cars simply vanished, the Veloster N and Miata RF all but invisible. Win some, lose some.

The hitch, sinking the C8, was the transmission. A twin-clutch automatic, Corvette’s first. In automatic mode, on track or the street, it is perfectly adept, handing out shifts quicker than thought. But manual mode is a half step behind the competition, denying downshifts or letting the engine bash the limiter, unsure of how much intervention to provide.

If you must take our clutch pedals, at least swap them for a transmission that wants to play. GM benchmarked the PDK dual-clutch in the 911 while developing the Vette’s transaxle, and it’s clear why. There is no more satisfying or evolved two-pedal gearbox. The PDK in the new 911 Carrera S is quicker and more focused than any human, but it doesn’t rub your nose in it or rap your knuckles when you slip up. Lap after lap, the trans works with you to be a little quicker, covering your tail when you miss a shift and dropping a gear if it thinks you can gain a tenth.

Maybe the Corvette’s production gearbox will be better. Regardless, the disparity was instructive. The 911 and Vette come from different schools of thought. Chevrolet used to know how to subtly refine a product while guarding its identity; Porsche still does. This new-generation 911 fully embraces its rear-engine heritage, and on track, you can feel that delicious weight imbalance, the car’s strengths helping to fire you off each apex.

“This thing is so good, it’s almost impossible to hate,” Farah said. “Who could ask for more power? Who could ask for better steering or more grip? How do you argue with PDK? The only real problem is that you don’t need to spend nearly as much to go this quick, if you don’t want a Porsche. But the 911 is still the Swiss Army knife of sports cars.”

That’s no small compliment. The Porsche’s back seats are large enough to stow a couple kids or a few small pieces of luggage. And when you don’t have the car by the scruff, it fades from your mind, so you can wrestle with what’s for dinner instead of struggling to see out the back window.

On the other hand, maybe that’s the 911 curse. As Cammisa noted, at commuting speeds, the car turns into a Panamera Coupe, Porsche’s luxury sedan, always in the background.

No one accused the Lotus of blending into anything. The car seemed to have dropped in from a different dimension. Or at least a different time. The Evora GT is a snapshot of sports cars from 10 years ago, bare and alive, a minor evolution of a relatively simple platform that debuted in 2009.

It’s weirdly bad at being a car. The seats are mounted a bit too high. The stereo is an aftermarket afterthought. The ignition sequence is an annoying secret handshake—a series of unintuitive button presses to disable the factory alarm—designed to make you look like an idiot at the valet. The rearview mirror provides a spectacular view of the engine’s wastegate actuator and nothing else. It’s loud. And none of that mattered, because the Evora is that good. The GT’s supercharged 3.5-liter V-6 is the same Toyota engine Lotus has used for years, but it sings. As I chased the Corvette up Northern California’s Donner Pass in second gear, roadside granite bluffs bounced the noise back through the open windows, the blower whine crawling around in my lap. On track, the gears felt a little long, the cable-shifted six-speed too clunky for quick shifts, but on the street, the gearbox was divine. It’s the car most of us would have in our garage.

“Fast, winding canyons are like sailing or skiing or ice-skating,” Smith said. “Just dancing. You choose the flow and the Lotus serves it up on a platter.”

There is magic here, and not from electronic trickery. No electronically adjustable shocks or computer-controlled differentials, just careful geometry and tuning. The stuff that has long made Lotus, Lotus. Unlike others in this group, the Evora demanded something of the driver. Skill was necessary for quick laps, but the car never punished a lack of it. You need more than a pulse to make an Evora circle a road course. But that was also true of another machine.

By cold logic, the Mazda Miata RF Club, the slowest and least powerful car at Thunderhill, should not have made the final cut. The RF is essentially an ordinary Miata with a folding steel hardtop in place of the base model’s soft convertible top. Unlike the convertible, however, the RF cannot meet most track-day roll-over inspections without substantial modifications. But Miatas are not logical cars, and those downsides were trumped by the simple fact that the Mazda is a kid’s birthday party behind the wheel, all sugar and pony rides and bliss. The yards of suspension travel and narrow tires make it the perfect forgiving trainer, intentions shouted through body roll. Much of the good came from the Mazda’s new engine, a rev-happy, 181-hp 2.0-liter. That four is best within a whisper of redline, and while most of us loved using every ounce of its performance, some judges were less interested in thrashing a tiny four-cylinder.

At a stop, Farah held up the Miata key, shaking it.

“I don’t like the Mazda much if you’re not caning the hell out of it,” he said. “Those transitions when you’re passing a semi, say. You have to go from sixth, to fifth, to fourth, to third.”

“Oh, I dig that,” Okulski grinned. “I was behind the Miata earlier, and every time it had to make a pass, you could tell the driver was ripping off downshifts. Looked fun.”

“You have to be comfortable owning a car you have to beat the hell out of all the time,” Farah said. “It’s not fun if you’re going slow and the whole thing is vibrating. It’s buzzy.”

Several other judges met him with cocked eyebrows. Cammisa spoke up. “A car that can rip off a 5.8-second 0-to-60 isn’t slow for most people.”

“Well, I still don’t fit in the damned thing,” Farah laughed.

Either way, the power differential was inconsequential in the Plumas National Forest. That was the Miata’s playground. Tight corners, short sightlines, and the Mazda’s accelerator bolted to the floor—those high-dollar cars couldn’t use their power, and they had nowhere to run. There are moments in our driving lives when everything clicks, and the Miata has long been a reliable key for opening that door. The current RF is the same. Even with some of the world’s most athletic vehicles on hand, the Miata was never left behind, carrying its momentum without spilling a drop.

As we sat around a table discussing the week, competitors dropped from contention one by one. The McLaren, for all its supercar glory, could be simultaneously dull and exhausting at a public pace. Gearbox complaints felled the Corvette from grace; every judge wanted an honest manual in place of the dual-clutch, in part because the manual C7 in similar trim was more joyous and alive. And the 911, so close to perfect, still felt big on those back roads. The Lotus, with its wailing V-6, missed the mark in refinement and, like the GT-R, is an old car trying to stay young, not so much moving the sports-car game forward as preserving it in amber. Even the Miata came up short, hamstrung by a folding hardtop that makes installation of a proper roll bar difficult—necessary hardware if you want to take the car to the track.

Only one machine garnered rave reviews all week, painting every driver’s face with a mile-wide grin. Only one gathered an almost unanimous vote.

The Veloster was an outlier—outgunned and outclassed by nearly every other car in this test. A gawky front-drive hatch, zero brand pedigree, in a field of slinky sports cars. But the Hyundai’s behavior quickly set it apart from the crowd. Hyundai’s head of performance development, Albert Biermann, spent 30 years working for BMW, back when the German company built a different sort of car. It shows, because the Hyundai is a love letter to folks like us. After a few happy miles at Thunderhill, Cammisa took to a logbook to remind us that front-wheel-drive cars famously fall apart on a road course—stumbling over themselves, running out of brake, drowning in understeer. But if that’s a universal truth, no one told Biermann. His work behaves like a front-wheel-drive greatest-hits album: want the savagery of a John Cooper Works Mini with the fleetfoot bliss of a Ford Fiesta ST? Turn-in is immediate, the steering precise and bubbling with feedback. The Hyundai has a more sorted front end and more cohesive feel than cars costing three times as much.

“This is a $30,430 car that makes a Volkswagen Golf R irrelevant,” Cammisa said.

What he did not say: The Golf R, one of history’s great hatchbacks, costs around 10 grand more and feels numb by comparison.

Because the Veloster N is so cheap, anyone with a nine-to-five can sign a note and ride off with one of the sharpest cars on the market. But it was more than price. Pressing the “N” button on the steering wheel changed the car dramatically. We tend to turn up our noses at drive modes on fun cars: Why does a Lamborghini need a Sport setting? Didn’t you buy the expensive loud one? The button makes perfect sense here, switching the car from quiet and comfortable daily driver to snotty hot hatch, the exhaust popping and snapping with more authority than anything the Corvette could muster. It is so fantastically neutral, pivoting at your hips, the throttle and brake yaw rheostats.

No front-drive car should work this well, but the Veloster is eager, urging you to run up and stick a pin in some expensive supercar’s ego. To watch it deflate as you fill their mirrors.

“It doesn’t care how you treat it,” Kinard said. “You can drive it on its tippy toes, like someone who knows what they’re doing. Or you can drive it like me, a ham-fisted Colin McRae wannabe. The thing rewards you.”

“That’s what the Civic Type R should have made people say,” Smith agreed.

There are flaws. The engine has all the character of an ink-jet printer, and the gas and brake pedal occupy different zip codes. But after five minutes, it doesn’t matter. As we chased the new Corvette away from our lunch stop on the final day of testing, the Hyundai had that mid-engine thing’s number, dancing and playing but forever confident. Kinard called it a bucket of puppies, but that’s not quite right. I’ve never met a puppy that can run down a McLaren on a back road.

For all their bluster and power, their lap times and displacement, most of the carmakers at this test made a deal with the devil—they traded what once made them great in the search for outright speed. Never has the disparity been greater between the capabilities of a modern fast car and what is legally possible. The new definition of performance isn’t what a car can do, but what it will do on a good road.

The Veloster N is what a great front-wheel-drive car should feel like. A delight that welds a smile to your face every time you drive it. It cheers you on, treating you like the hero. And it came from a company that had no reason to build it. Chevrolet has to make a Corvette; Porsche, a 911. Short of a giant meteorite or nuclear winter, those names will always exist. Cars like the Veloster N are more special, crafted not of obligation, but for the sheer joy of driving. That’s why the Hyundai Veloster N is Road & Track’s 2020 Performance Car of the Year.

We got your letter, Hyundai. We heart you, too.

—Zach Bowman

The C8 reviewed: The totally redesigned 2020 Chevy Corvette

It’s drop-dead gorgeous, with a few breaks in tradition

Oh boy, Chevrolet invited out the pitchforks with the reveal of the totally redesigned 2020 Chevrolet Corvette, or as it’s known inside Chevy: the C8. It’s a major leap of faith for those in charge at the bow tie brand. This marks the eighth generation of the iconic 2-seater. From the get-go, the introduction of every generational Corvette has been highly anticipated. So, what makes this launch any different? Well, nearly everything.

The first of two glaring changes is, for the first time since its original launch 67 years ago, the engine is located between the passengers and the rear axle. Yep, the 2020 Corvette is a midengine car. The second huge change is, it will no longer offer a manual transmission. What! That’s right, the only transmission available is an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic. A driver can still manually shift the transmission, but it’s by-wire technology. Also, for the first time, leaf springs won’t be a suspension component. Chevy went with coil springs at each wheel.

Clearly, Chevy has two key goals for the radically updated Corvette: Thrust it into the elite circle of supercars like Acura NSX, Audi R8 and McLaren 570, as well as appeal to a younger audience. In doing so, however, the threat is the loss of Corvette’s traditional owner base. Cue the pitchforks. If early orders already accounting for the first year’s production are any indication, though, Chevy doesn’t have much to fret about.

The new Corvette is priced from $59,995 to $73,040.

Forgetting the politics of such a sea change, while ignoring our own knee-jerk predispositions for maintaining Corvette traditions, we found our time behind the wheel to be a real revelation. Checking all the supercar boxes of performance, active suspension, midengine design and stunning exterior styling, the reimagined 2020 Chevrolet Corvette should win the hearts and minds of new generations of Corvette owners. As for the traditionalists, we think what the 8th-gen Corvette brings to the party will win over most of them, as well.

What’s new?

The Corvette is totally redesigned for 2020.

What we like

  • The Corvette is totally redesigned for 2020.
  • What we like
  • Drop-dead gorgeous styling
  • Radically improved handling
  • A supercar that’s an everyday driver
  • Sub 3-second sprint to 60 mph with Z51 package
  • A $59,995 starting price

What we don’t

  • Stingy cargo space
  • Hard-to-appreciate steering-wheel design
  • Will probably be in short supply for the first year or more

How much?

$59,995 to $73,040

Fuel economy

Filling the well behind the passengers is an updated version of last year’s LT1 engine. It’s the LT2 that’s a 495-horsepower 6.2-kiter V8 developing 470 lb-ft of peak torque. This is the most hp and torque on any entry-level ‘Vette yet. Chevy made a few changes, mostly to accommodate its amidships placement. One being that the air intake now originates in the rear.

The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette is all about the driving experience.

Hustling engine output to the rear wheels is an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

As already mentioned, Chevy is claiming a 0-to-60 mph time of less than three seconds with the $5,000 Z51 package.

No fuel economy government estimates were available as of this writing.

Standard features and options

The 2020 Corvette is available in three trims: 1LT, 2LT and 3LT. When it goes on sale early in 2020, there will also be a convertible version. All prices include the $1,095 factory delivery charge.

The Corvette 1LT ($59,995) comes with Brembo anti-lock brakes with black-painted calipers, a clear engine-compartment cover, 19-in front/20-in rear aluminum wheels, power outboard mirrors with integrated turn signals, LED headlights, a 12-in diagonal color driver information center, dual-zone automatic climate control, Mulan leather seating with perforated inserts, 8-way power-adjustable seats, cruise control, keyless open and start, remote start, a leather-wrapped power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, Teen Driver parental controls, an HD backup camera, rear park assist, Bluetooth connectivity, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot capability, OnStar connected services capability, Infotainment 3 Plus System, an 8-in HD color touchscreen, a 10-speaker Bose audio system with HD radio and satellite radio capability.

To the 1LT features the 2LT ($68,390) adds heated/autodimming/power-folding outboard mirrors, a 14-speaker Bose Performance-Series audio system, cargo nets, upgraded 3 Plus infotainment system with navigation, HD front vision camera, a head-up display, a heated steering wheel, an inclination sensor, memory driver/passenger convenience package, power-lumbar and power seat-back bolster front seats, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, antitheft system and wireless charging.

Stepping up to the 3LT ($73,040) adds a custom leather-wrapped interior package, upgraded seats, Napa leather seating with perforated inserts and sueded microfiber-wrapped upper interior trim.

Some features standard on a higher trim are options on lower ones. Several options, though, are across the board, like the performance exhaust, Z51 Package, the body-color dual roof, the carbon fiber roof and the transparent roof panel. There are plenty of customizing touches, too, like different color calipers, seat belts, exterior accents, interior accents and red seating.

Safety

The updated Corvette has the usual safety features like four air bags, stability control, traction control and anti-lock brakes. Also standard across the trims is a backup camera, rear park assist and Teen Driver. Standard on the 2LT and 3LT are blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and a front vision camera.

No third party has safety or crash tested the 2020 Corvette.

Behind the wheel

The first thing you notice when climbing into the driver’s seat is the uber-low seating position. Next is the oddly shaped steering wheel that’s more of a rectangle than a circle. This is a driver-centric cabin, surrounding the driver on three sides with controls and switches of one sort or another. Things not directly in front of the driver are canted toward him or her. This is not a cockpit engineered for trips to lover’s lane. You can see and speak with the passenger from the driver’s perch, but anything beyond patting your passenger’s head is another matter entirely. The center tunnel is huge.

The Corvette has an oddly-shaped steering wheel.

Enough about the color of the drapes. We like the options Corvette provides to the driver to make the experience his or her own. There are four driver settings (Tour, Sport, Track and Weather) to dial in performance to suit the current conditions. There’s even another setting for the driver to customize things to personal taste.

At the end of the day, what the Corvette is all about is the driving experience. Thanks to the midengine arrangement, not only is the weight more evenly distributed front and rear, the engine sits lower for a lower center of gravity. The car feels more planted and predictable. You really feel in control. A function of 470 hp and a svelte 3,500 pounds of mass, acceleration is as neck snapping as you want it to be.

Chevy made every effort to make the new Corvette more rigid, which translates into better control and cornering. Whether cruising along the freeway or attacking a few curves, the 2020 Corvette is every inch the supercar Chevrolet hoped it would be. And, we still think it’s the best performance bang for the buck.

Other cars to consider

2020 Acura NSX — Don’t let the fact the NSX has a hybrid powertrain fool you. This is still a performance midengine car with impressive acceleration and excellent handling.

2020 Audi R8 — Even without Tony Stark’s endorsement, the R8 is a terrific car. Enjoying a little more horsepower and torque for 2020, it performs as well as it looks.

2020 Porsche Cayman — Hey, it’s a Porsche . Timeless styling and an available 2.5-liter turbo engine that delivers as much as 365 hp.

Autotrader’s Advice

How can you go wrong picking any combination of Corvette trims and options? Having said that, we’d recommend sticking with the 1LT and adding the Z51 Package. It keeps the price about as low as possible, but provides serious performance.

This story originally ran on Autotrader.com.

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