how the corvette evolved into an apex predator with no direct competition

The C8 Corvette has no natural rival. It is an apex predator in the car world. How did this happen and is this a good thing for the Corvette?

In the animal world an apex predator exists at the top of the food chain without any natural predators of its own. Tigers, bald eagles, and wolves are some examples. The fact that they have no direct competition only serves to make them appear even more fierce. But what about in the automotive world? With so many different vehicles and automakers there can’t be a true apex predator can there? We think there is, and it is our very own C8 Corvette. It may not have always been this way for the Corvette, but with the latest generation the car has evolved to the point where it really doesn’t have any direct competition. Name another mid-engine naturally aspirated V8-powered sports car. And while a car doesn’t need to have the exact same configuration to compete, the Corvette occupies a unique space.

Leaving the Z06 out of the discussion for now, let’s focus on the regular Stingray. Let’s also ignore dealer markups for now. For $75,000 to $100,000 you can get a nicely equipped Corvette coupe or convertible. You will have a car that can hit 60 mph in about 3 seconds, and top out just shy of 200 mph. It also has mid-engine handling balance that will make it as quick on a road course as a drag strip. And if a golf course is more your speed, no problem, the Corvette has room to fit your golf clubs in the back. And it is made right here in America. What can compete with that?

Early Competition

how the corvette evolved into an apex predator with no direct competition

The Corvette was not always an apex predator. In the early days of the Corvette, it competed with the Ford Thunderbird. In the 1980s and 1990s, it was constantly compared to the Porsche 911. Over the years there was the Dodge Viper that would also sometimes compete against the Corvette. One could also make an argument for the Audi R8 V8 or the Acura NSX. And certainly, there were others. But times have changed. The Audi R8 V8 is dead and the V10 dies next year. The Thunderbird is dead. The NSX is dead. The Viper is dead. Yet the Corvette soldiers on.

Corvette vs Porsche

how the corvette evolved into an apex predator with no direct competition

Of the cars mentioned above, only the 911 is still going strong. But the 911 while always more expensive than the Corvette has gone way upmarket. In 1988 the base price of a Corvette was about $29,500 and about $42,700 for a base 911. The 911 was 44 percent more expensive. Today a base Corvette is about $66,000 and a base 911 starts at $106,000. That is a whopping 60 percent price difference. It was a stretch to compare them in 1988 but it is absurd now. Oh, and the Corvette also makes over 100 horsepower more than the 911 and has the V8 engine in the middle where it belongs.

how the corvette evolved into an apex predator with no direct competition

But Porsche does make some mid-engine cars such as the 718 Cayman and Boxster. Great cars but the base versions (that cost about the same as Corvette) come with 4-cylinder engines and are down between 150 and 200 horsepower. A Cayman GT4 is more competitive with the C8 Stingray. But it is still down about 85 horsepower, and 2-cylinders. And the GT4 is more of a track-focused model with a much harsher ride than the C8. The Cayman GTS 4.0 does have a more compliant ride and a 4.0L 6-cylinder mounted in the middle. But there is a significant price difference, the Corvette does hold the V8 advantage and is made in America.

Current Competition

how the corvette evolved into an apex predator with no direct competition

So, if the Cayman GTS 4.0 is not a good match what else do we have? There is the Shelby GT500. Made in America and it has a V8. But it is not naturally aspirated, and it is mounted in the front. And despite the power advantage the GT500 has, it struggles to use all that power, so it ends up being slower than the C8 in the real world. The Dodge Challenger V8 models are being killed off and they are not really in the same class anyway. The Jaguar F-Type R has a powerful V8, but it is mounted up front and it is all-wheel-drive. Stepping up to the world of McLaren and Ferrari they have mid-engine cars but are priced way above the Corvette and their powerplants now use turbochargers.

Good or Bad?

how the corvette evolved into an apex predator with no direct competition

As we all know competition makes everyone better. If the Corvette truly has no natural competition, should we be concerned? Will the model get a little fat and happy and not evolve the way we hope it will? That remains to be seen. But with the world rushing to go all-electric we are not sure the Corvette will have a true V8-powered competitor ever again. It may remain an apex predator until the end. And when the end comes, it won’t be competition that kills it. Like the dinosaurs, the V8 Corvette as we know it will be the victim of a drastic change in environment that will no longer allow it to exist.

Images: Joe Kucinski

Keyword: How the Corvette Evolved into an Apex Predator with No Direct Competition

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