Corvette small-block engines are no stranger to the annual Wards 10 Best Engines & Propulsion Systems, having been chosen in 1998, 1999, 2008, 2014, 2015, and 2019.
Now the even-further-refined LT2 495 hp powerplant that will power the upcoming mid-engine C8 Corvette is on the 2020 list – drawing raves from the judges for all aspects of its performance.
“It feels like every bit of power is available at every throttle position,” says Wards 10BEPS judge Bob Gritzinger. “The driver feels directly connected to the powertrain via the gas pedal and paddle shifters.”
The switch to the mid-engine architecture allowed GM engineers to make many improvements not possible in a front-engine layout, Wards pointed out.
Since the engine sits an inch lower in the bay, Chevy was able to redesign the intake manifold for 19% greater plenum volume. In the old front-engine design, the plenum was limited in size to allow drivers to be able to see down the hood. Engineers were able to make the intake runners the same length for the first time and also improve air flow in transition areas, giving 3% more horsepower.
Another 1% hike in power came from improved air flow possible from changing the exhaust manifold to upswept from down.
Judges also praised the selection of the all-new dual-clutch transmission that they said “makes a fine partner” to the small-block, allowing for zero torque interruption thanks to a high-performance 32-bit control unit at the transaxle for gear transitions of less than 100 milliseconds and also optimizing launch courtesy of a low 2.91-ratio first gear.
They also loved the sound of the engine when the driver double-pulled the paddle shifters to put the transmission in neutral and allow free-revs. “LT2, 8-speed DCT a marriage made in torque heaven,” judge Jim Irwin praised.
Other design elements also bettered the performance of the engine, including a relocated dry sump lubrication system, camshaft improvements, and larger scavenging capacity.
Wards says the new engine “may finally put an end to the image of an OHV engine as an elder statesman,” noting that the whole of this motor is indeed greater than the sum of its parts, thanks to meticulous integration throughout.
In sum, they came away impressed with the “tremendous balance, linear power delivery, and superb drivability” of the engine.
“One of the biggest distinctions is how unintimidating this engine is despite its power,” judge Drew Winter says of the Tonawanda, NY-built unit. “Even more than previous generations, this engine could easily be a daily driver.”
The 2020 Corvette Stingray is Named to Car and Driver’s 10Best List
The 2020 Corvette Stingray Shines and Stumbles for Road and Track’s Performance Car of the Year Award
The C8 Corvette Stingray is Named MotorTrend’s Car of the Year