The secret is out, and there’s no sense in denying it anymore: I’m smitten with the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8, the all-new mid-engine, European-style supercar GM has built, disguised as an American icon and priced like a premium SUV. The combination of speed, style, technology, everyday usability, comfort, fuel economy and extraordinary value is practically irresistible. Is it perfect? No, of course not — it has terrible cargo-carrying ability, and the cabin storage options for things like phones and accessories are woefully lacking, but these are the trade-offs you make when the “pros” column is as long as it is.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably already been to the Chevrolet Corvette online configurator to play around with it to see what your ultimate C8 Vette would look like (and how much it would cost). To indulge us both in our fantasies (and maybe even help guide you in making decisions for a future reality), I figured I’d share with you what I created while speccing one out and my reasoning behind it.
Related: Living With a 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray C8: All That and Fuel Efficient Too?
Step 1: To Coupe or to Convertible?
That is the question. There are no engine options (yet), no transmission options (it’s automatic only … so far), so the big upfront question is: Do you want it as a hardtop or a droptop?
Now, even the hardtop model is still something of a convertible, as every Corvette has a removable, super-light carbon-fiber roof panel (can’t call it a Targa top, however, as Porsche has trademarked that name) that lifts off by undoing just three latches, stows away in the trunk and can be done with just one person despite the panel’s size. The convertible, on the other hand, is a power-retractable hardtop, which takes up no more room in the trunk than the manually removable hardtop panel does, but which is less of a hassle to do if you’re just running to the store, for instance.
The two tops don’t look all that different either: Top down, the convertible still has sail panels that stay in place, so only the rear glass is really different between the two models. The convertible is about 100 pounds heavier, but you’re not likely to notice that in everyday use. My choice would be the convertible — yes, it’s more expensive and adds weight to the car, but the convenience of effortlessly creating an open-air experience can’t be beat.
Step 2: Which Trim Level?
For 2020, you can get a Corvette in three flavors: 1LT, 2LT and 3LT. Mechanically, there isn’t much difference between the trims; the powertrain doesn’t change, while the Z51 performance suspension, Magnetic Ride Control dampers and Brembo brakes are available on any trim. Instead, each comes with increasingly luxurious content as standard equipment, and each allows you different interior color options.
But even the base 1LT model is very well equipped, with offerings like a 10-speaker Bose premium audio system, 8-inch touchscreen, full digital gauge cluster, real leather performance seats, a rearview camera mirror and more. But there’s two things you can’t get on the 1LT that makes the 2LT a better idea: the electric front lift system that lets you go over curbs and parking lot bumps at the push of a button without risking scrapes to the bottom of the front bumper, and side blind spot detection. You can specify the lift on the 2LT trim, however, which is why that trim is our choice.
The just-right middle trim is not as expensive and luxury loaded as a 3LT, which features nicer leather trim and different interior color options — but most things that are available on the 2LT are the same as the 3LT. So for our money, 2LT it is.
Step 3: Which Suspension?
The big question here is: Do you stick with the standard, minimally adjustable steel suspension, go for the pricey Z51 Performance Pack suspension or do the Z51 with GM’s magical Magnetic Ride Control dampers? It’s not an easy choice, as the standard suspension is absolutely fantastic, with a compliant, well-tuned ride even over broken surfaces that is almost too soft; it stiffens up at higher speeds, and from what I’m told is still fantastic on a track — but the sharpness of the Z51 tune and the selectability of the MRC dampers is a definite bonus.
It’s not an inexpensive choice either, as the Z51 package is a significant $5,000 markup to an LT2, but it also includes things like the performance exhaust system, six-piston Brembo brakes, front and rear spoilers, Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires and an electronic limited slip differential. The Magnetic Ride Control electronic suspension will cost an additional $1,895, meaning you’re adding nearly seven grand to the sticker if you want both.
My choice here would be to actually skip the Z51 and MRC, and I’ll tell you why: This Corvette is an amazing grand-touring car, but for a race-ready machine, I’m thinking the next models we’re likely to see (say, a new Gran Sport or future ZR1) will be the true track stars.
Since I’ve already chosen a convertible model over a coupe, my Corvette is likely to see only occasional track use, and the base suspension is more than adequate and still highly entertaining as a daily driver. Plus, I think the car looks better without a rear spoiler. I’d instead use that money on the slightly more practical optional front lift ($1,495) and performance exhaust ($1,195), and wait for the true track models to show up in a year or two — because you just know they’re coming.
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Step 4: The Extras
Most of the Corvette’s features are bundled into the trim levels and the Z51 Performance Package, so picking out individual options isn’t a lengthy process — ’cause there really aren’t many. Something fun to have: the Performance Exhaust Package, which lets you select how loud you want your Corvette to be at any given moment.
You’re likely to spend more time playing mix and match with interior colors, wheel combinations, badging and stripes. I opted for a black paint job with Sterling Silver racing stripes outside, and the two-tone Sky Cool Gray and black interior to stick with the monochromatic look. There are more adventurous colors, to be sure, but black is classic and goes with everything, as they say. Plus, not gonna lie: I think it makes the Vette look like the Batmobile, and who doesn’t want to be Bruce Wayne?
For wheels, I did upgrade to the Spectra Gray open-trident five-spoke models, as I think they complement the dark colors of my Corvette nicely. I also specced the front lift and performance exhaust, as previously mentioned — and I also sprang for the Bright Red painted brake calipers and seat belts, as one does want just a hint of color, right? The bottom line for my new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray LT2 convertible came to a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $80,465, including destination fee. Want to see all the details? Explore it here.
Certainly, you can create a cheaper Corvette that’s more track focused. Stick with a 1LT coupe and add only that Z51 package, MRC and Competition Sport seats, and you’ve got one hell of a track machine for a tick under 70 grand — an extraordinary performance bargain. Even at 80 grand for my very well-equipped convertible model, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any competitor that comes close to matching the Corvette’s performance and technology achievements at that price.
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