- the 2020 chevrolet corvette c8's top speed is claimed to be 194 mph.
- that top speed applies, for now, only to the base mid-engined corvette stingray.
- versions equipped with chevy's optional z51 performance package achieve a lower top speed.
update 9/4/19: we added a youtube video that shows the corvette at a test track in germany reaching its top speed of 194 mph. the video was shown as part of a presentation at an event at the corvette museum in kentucky.
chevrolet dropped a brief mention of the all-new mid-engined corvette stingray's top speed into a press release about the sports car's price. so, as you can imagine, we took notice. as impressive as it is that the c8 corvette starts under $60,000, that sub-$60k model is said to be capable of 194 mph. whoa.
oddly enough, that top speed applies only to the entry-level 2020 corvette. models equipped with chevy's optional z51 performance package achieve a lower, undisclosed top speed due to the added drag from its downforce-enhancing aerodynamic bits. the cost of more downforce is greater drag—a parasite on cars' high-speed abilities offset only by more engine power.
so, why would anyone opt for the z51 kit if it means living with a top speed south of 194 mph? that's easy: the z51-equipped c8 corvette, like the z51 models that came before it, should offer a boost in other, everyday performance metrics. that model is likely to stop shorter, grip harder, and change direction more readily, all while providing additional engine and systems cooling for weathering on-track abuse. oh, and the z51 c8 corvette is the version that achieves chevrolet's highly touted sub-3.0-second acceleration time from zero to 60 mph. implied in that stipulation is that the 194-mph base corvette doesn't reach 60 mph as quickly, if even in less than 3.0 seconds.
top speed is arguably a useless metric for an american road car. there is no speed-limit-free autobahn linking akron, ohio, to sacramento, california. there are no nation-crossing unrestricted highways, period. we'd gladly sacrifice the entry-level c8 corvette's effectively useless near-200-mph top speed for the z51 model's promised performance gains in driving scenarios more easily accessible to the average american driver, from back-road blasts to track-day lapping. want that, plus a higher top speed? you'll need to wait for the expected higher-horsepower mid-engined corvette variants due in the coming years.
this story was originally published in august 2019.