TORONTO — With a starting price of $69,998 — including shipping and announced Friday — the new 2020 midengine Corvette Stingray has Chevrolet Canada and its dealers hoping they have a conquest machine that will win over buyers of high-end sports cars in a declining market.
“We’ve got a strong, loyal base of customers,” said Jamie Dewhurst, Chevrolet Canada national marketing manager. “I feel really good about our prospects of holding onto our base.
“We also feel really good in terms of where we stand with potential conquests, whether it’s Porsche or Jaguar or any of the entries in the segment.”
GM rolled out the eighth-generation Corvette — the C8 — in July, showcasing perhaps the most radical overhaul of the venerable sports car since it was introduced in 1953. A host of design changes include an exterior that GM says is inspired by fighter jets and Formula One cars and an interior featuring a 12-inch display and a long strip of buttons between the driver and passenger seats.
THE ENGINE IS NOW IN THE BACK
But the biggest change is the engine and its placement: The 6.2-litre V-8 — rated at 490 horsepower — is now behind the driver. The zero-to-60mph (96 km/h) time is touted as less than three seconds.
Compare that with the Porsche 911, which GM President Mark Reuss identified as one of the Corvette’s main competitors, and it’s easy to see where Chevrolet is coming from.
The cheapest 911 — the Carrera —starts at $104,000 and has a six-cylinder engine that makes 370 horsepower. The 2020 Jaguar F-Type, meanwhile, starts at $70,500.
Midengine competitors are also more expensive: The Audi R8 starts at $188,400, while the Acura NSX begins at $189,900.
The Corvette “will bring customers back into the showroom that we haven’t seen in a while,” said Andrew Lennox, general manager of Humberview Chevrolet-Buick-GMC in Toronto. “The base price was excellent, and I think once you get the car reasonably equipped, you’re going to have a supercar for under $100,000.”
Beyond GM’s promising a base price below $70,000, full pricing details are not yet known. The Corvette will begin arriving at Canadian dealerships in early 2020, Dewhurst said, and will be available in the same variants as those offered in the United States.
The new Corvette will enter the market as many high-end sports cars have suffered sales declines at the end of a decade that was marked by growth.
Through June, GM sold 706 Corvettes in Canada, down 22 per cent from a year earlier, according to the Automotive News Data Center in Detroit. Porsche, meanwhile, sold 630 911 models, down 14 per cent, while F-Type sales dropped by 33 per cent to 159 units. July sales were not included because GM no longer reports monthly sales.
GM has seen a high level of interest in the 2020 Corvette, Dewhurst said.
“Meeting consumer demand, especially or a product like this, is going to be a challenge, no question,” he said. “But internally, we feel really good about the numbers that we’re seeing, and we’re really excited to see where this car is going to take us.”
‘OVERWHELMED’ BY ORDERS
Lennox, whose dealership began taking orders for the new Corvette in 2017, said he has “enough orders in the bank” to cover the store for 12-18 months.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of not only orders but the absolutely phenomenal customer response,” he said.
“The front-engine, rear-drive car has been around for so long. For Corvette to now go to a midengine car, we were a little pensive in advance, but the response from Corvette purists has been overwhelmingly positive.”
Dewhurst said his team would be working over the next several months to balance 2020 Corvette production with sales of the outgoing Corvette. Inventory of the current generation is expected to wind down over the next several months, especially as colder weather affects sports car sales in Canada, he said.
“The current [generation] car will still sell well up until the new car arrives,” Lennox said. “You’ll always have some people who say they prefer the older model, and they’ll be able to take advantage of savings and discounts that may not be available on the C8.”