It’s a brave new world for supercars
We had a good feeling the 2020 Chevrolet C8 Corvette’s move to a mid-engine layout would improve performance, but somehow we didn’t think the results would be so dramatic. Our 3LT trim tester equipped with the Z51 package lapped our figure eight course in 23.3 seconds at 0.90 g, placing it in lofty company. How lofty? To give you an idea, here are just 10 of the heavy-hitting performance cars the C8 Corvette beat around the figure-eight course, a MotorTrend test that evaluates cornering, acceleration, braking, and the transitions in between.
2011 Porsche 911 GT3 RS
Porsche’s RS cars have always enjoyed life at the top of the 911 hierarchy, and that was true for the 997-generation GT3 RS, which was outranked only by the GT2 RS and GT3 RS 4.0. In testing, that car laid down a figure-eight lap of 23.4 seconds at an average of 0.92 g, with help from its 450-hp 3.8-liter naturally aspirated flat-six and sweet-shifting six-speed manual transmission. That kind of performance easily made it worthy of the RS badge in its day, but who could have guessed a “base” Corvette would surpass it 10 years later? If beating a decade-old GT3 RS doesn’t impress you, the C8 also tied a 2018 Porsche 911 Carrera T’s figure-eight time, though at higher average g-forces.
2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S
The Mercedes-AMG GT S was our 2015 Best Driver’s Car winner, and for good reason. The then-new front-engine sports car surprised everyone on Route 198 with the level of confidence it inspired. “By the end of the program, it grew obvious that the AMG GT S was greater than the sum of its parts,” we wrote at the time. “Part Palm Springs weekend getaway car, part mountain road menace, and part track star, and wholly incomparable.” The GT S’ 23.4-second figure-eight time doesn’t tell the whole story about its driving experience, but the fact that the Corvette C8 beat that is still impressive.
2013 Dodge SRT Viper
The Viper and Corvette are longtime American sports car rivals. Up until the C8’s arrival and the Viper’s unfortunate discontinuation in 2016, both were muscular front-engine, rear-drive coupes designed and built in the U.S., so how could we not compare the two? With its 640-hp, 600-lb-ft 8.4-liter naturally aspirated V-10, the base SRT Viper was more of a match for the C7 Z06 in its day. But a generation later, a lesser Z51 model is capable of besting its figure-eight time of 23.4 seconds.
2019 Jaguar XE SV Project 8
Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations team pulled out all the stops when it developed the XE SV Project 8. Thanks in part to a 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 producing 592 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, the Project 8 is the fastest four-door car around the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Another SV innovation that no doubt helped the Project 8 capture the ’Ring record is the car’s dual-mode suspension that can switch from Street to Track at the push of a button. In Street mode, the Project posted a figure-eight time of 23.4 seconds, a tenth of a second slower than the C8 Corvette Z51. But even set to Track mode, the Project 8 only manages to tie the ’Vette.
2006 Saleen S7 Twin Turbo
If you could travel back in time to the early 2000s and ask any car enthusiast which five cars would fill their dream garage, chances are high that the Saleen S7 would be among the answers you get. Designed by Steve Saleen to put America back on the supercar map, the S7 took on the giants of the day both in showrooms and on the track with the S7R, which competed at Le Mans throughout the first decade of the new millennium. In 2005, the S7 got a major upgrade in the form of a 7.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 rated at 750 hp. With that power infusion, the low-volume Saleen S7 Twin Turbo completed our figure-eight course in 23.4 seconds at an average of 0.90 g. In a way, the C8 Corvette beating that time is like the passing of the torch from one American supercar icon to another.
2010 Corvette ZR1
Just as the Saleen S7 was a poster car of the 2000s, the C6 Chevy Corvette ZR1 was kind of a big deal during the first half of this decade. Nicknamed the “Blue Devil,” the C6 ZR1 packed a 6.2-liter supercharged LS9 V-8 that produced 638 hp and 604 lb-ft of torque—at the time an unfathomable amount for a mass-produced car. The ZR1 lapped our figure eight in 23.4 seconds at an average of 0.87 g. The fact that a C8 Z51 beat the top model of the C6 generation in this metric (and others) further illustrates just how far the Corvette has come.
2017 Audi R8 V10 Plus
When the second-generation Audi R8 first came out, few thought it would be as good as its platform-mate, the Lamborghini Huracán. But the everyday supercar’s performance was much closer to the Lambo’s than anyone could have expected. When we tested a 2017 Audi R8 V10 Plus, it accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 2.6 seconds, making it the quickest naturally aspirated car we had ever tested at the time. It also lapped the figure eight in 23.5 seconds, which is indeed fast—just not as fast as the new C8 Corvette.
2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera
We called the DBS Superleggera “the most beautiful Aston Martin since … ever” in our First Drive. On top of that, it’s an incredible grand tourer packing a sonorous 715-hp 5.2-liter twin-turbo V-12. It may not be an all-out super sports car like some others on this list, but it is one of the priciest entries starting at just over $308,000 USD. The DBS Superleggera beats the C8 Corvette in plushness and arguably in looks, but with a lap time of 23.6 seconds, it doesn’t beat it around our figure eight.
2010 Ferrari 458 Italia
The Ferrari 458 Italia and 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 have a surprising amount in common. Both are mid-engine and powered by naturally aspirated V-8s mated to dual-clutch transmissions, and both look great in red. Even months after the C8 Corvette’s debut, it’s still incredible to us that such comparisons between a Corvette and our 2011 Best Driver’s Car winner can be made. What’s more incredible is that the Corvette was three tenths of a second faster than the Ferrari around the figure eight. What a difference a decade makes.
2012 Lexus LFA
The Lexus LFA was a prime example of a halo car. Toyota spent millions developing a robotic loom that could weave carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic into body components and a full monocoque chassis—all for one car. Producing the LFA required a dedicated facility where the cars would be hand-built at a rate of about 20 units a month. Just 500 examples of the front-engine, 552-hp V-10 coupe were produced and sold for at least $375,000 USD a pop, making LFA ownership a very exclusive club. Though it won’t be nearly as rare or expensive, the C8 Corvette serves as a halo car for GM, a showcase of what its engineers, designers, bean counters (yes, we owe them thanks, too), and other employees can do. With that said, we think the LFA would be OK having its 23.7-second figure eight time beaten by another halo car worthy of the title.