The 2022 Chevrolet Corvette is 182.3 inches long. That is 7.9 inches longer than the Audi R8, which squeezes a V-10 into its engine bay. It’s 3.8 inches longer than the Acura NSX, and 2.6 inches longer than the Ferrari 296 GTB. And much of that extravagant length is concentrated aft of the cabin. The C8 is radically cab-forward, and from a three-quarter view, front or rear, it can look like the front third of the car is being swallowed by an 8/7ths scale version of itself. Or as if it’s in the process of telescoping, like the Rinspeed Presto. The Corvette looks fantastic in profile and dead on, but it isn’t as tidy, visually, as it might be if it didn’t have about 20 inches separating the engine bay from the rear bumper. There’s just no disguising the Corvette’s big ol’ trunk.
But that little stretch aft of the engine bay is what transforms the C8 from a gaudy plaything into a real everyday car. When you start seeing Corvettes with 150,000 miles, that won’t be because they get great fuel economy or have Barcalounger seats. It’ll be because of the trunk. It’s easy to take off on a 600-mile trip when you don’t have to think about what to pack. And removing a practical obstacle to road trips means racking up more miles, which ought to be the ultimate goal for a car that treats driving as hedonism rather than a chore. And for this glorious flexibility, we can thank… the roof.
Early on in the C8 planning, Chevy’s focus groups confirmed that a switch to a mid-engine layout would not change customers’ expectation that all Vettes are convertibles—as in, coupes get a removable roof panel. And if the roof comes off, you need a place to stow it in the car. Hence, the C8’s rear trunk isn’t designed around your luggage or golf clubs (though it’ll hold two sets) or the bags of mulch you might throw in to flex at Home Depot. It’s designed to store the roof, and this thing ain’t a T-top. That panel is large. And so the C8’s total cargo capacity is 13 cubic feet, which is comparable to one of those rooftop cargo bags you might see on an SUV.
As a consequence, when I took a 2022 Corvette on an overnight trip to the North Carolina mountains, I had plenty of room for the bulky detritus demanded by winter—no cramming every air pocket in the cabin with rolled-up jackets and individual socks, no sliding the seats uncomfortably forward to create a few spare cubic centimeters of cargo space, as I’ve done in an R8. Just get in and go, both trunks filled to the brim but the interior uncluttered.
And that capaciousness leverages what is otherwise a fantastic year-round road-trip car, a grand tourer in track-rat clothes. When I got a ride in a heavily camouflaged pre-production C8 at GM’s Milford Proving Grounds back in 2019, chief engineer Tadge Juechter said, “It’s got 911 performance along with the best attributes of the Boxster and Cayman. And some Lexus refinement thrown in, which might surprise people.” While the Corvette can execute brutal launch control clutch-drops and hit 60 mph in 2.8 seconds, it can also mellow out on the highway—active exhaust muted, magnetic ride control limber, transmission smoothly slurring from gear to gear. With winter tires, you can blast up a snow-covered mountain road with no trouble whatsoever. And the optional front-end lift system helps the C8 shimmy over steep approaches or speed bumps without grinding. The Corvette isn’t a normal car, but it can impersonate one.
Not everyone is satisfied with the Corvette’s compromise between aesthetics and utility. I have a friend who bought the past two Z06s, the C6 and C7, but doesn’t know if he’ll go back for a third. “The new Corvette just looks weird from some angles,” he said. “The last one looks much better to me.” And I know what he means, but he’s also not one of the people who takes advantages of the Corvette’s capaciousness (the C7 had even more cargo space). When I asked him how many miles were on his C7 Z06, now four years old, he replied, “3000.” I got a long way toward that number in one weekend with the C8.
Back when I visited Milford, Juechter said, “There are literally a million decisions on the way to making a new car.” Going with the removable roof—and hence big trunk—was one of them. And they got it right.
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