The 2021 Corvette Stingray represents the sophomore model year of Chevrolet’s beloved mid-engine sports car. Arriving immediately on the tail of an abbreviated 2020 model year, the 2021 Corvette Stingray became one of the most sought-after sports cars of the year. Despite commitments by GM that their latest Corvette would have a base price just north of $60k, dealer pricing of both the 2020 and 2021 Stingrays has skyrocketed, with many examples selling for significantly more than $100k. Add to the fact that sales of the 2021 Mid-Engine Stingray were halted on March 25, 2021, due to overwhelming demand, and you can begin to understand just how popular this Corvette was at the time of its launch.
For the 2021 model year, Chevrolet added an assortment of new features to the Stingray. These included:
New exterior paint colors: Silver Flare Metallic and Red Mist Metallic Tintcoat (which was offered at an additional cost.)
New interior colors: Sky Cool Gray/Strike Yellow
Full-Length Dual Racing Stripe Packages in the following colors: Blue, Orange, Red, and Yellow
Special Stinger Stripe Packages in three colors: Carbon Flash/Edge Red, Carbon Flash/Edge Yellow, and Carbon Flash/Midnight Silver
Magnetic Ride Control was made available without purchasing the Z51 Package
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability was incorporated into the car
Outside of these additions, the 2021 Stingray was essentially identical to the 2020 model.
Moving to a Mid-Engine Platform
“Corvette has always represented the pinnacle of innovation and boundary-pushing at GM. The traditional front-engine vehicle reached its limits of performance, necessitating the new layout,” said GM President Mark Reuss. “In terms of comfort and fun, it still looks and feels like a Corvette, but drives better than any vehicle in Corvette history. Customers are going to be thrilled with our focus on details and performance across the board.”
Although initial customer response to the mid-engine configuration was mixed, the unprecedented demand placed on owning one these cars proved that GM had hit a home run with their latest Corvette. And while Chevrolet had been contemplating a mid-engine Corvette for decades, the decision to arrive at a mid-engine platform for the 2020 MY was obvious – there was nothing more that Chevrolet could do with the conventional front-engine, rear-wheel-drive platform. The 2019 Corvette ZR1 proved that. And while the outgoing C7 was a monster in its own rights, the C8 finally brought the Corvette into the 21st century – and perhaps more important, it was now on par with the best European sports car in its class.
The mid-engine layout provided the 2021 Corvette Stingray with many unique benefits, including:
Better weight distribution, with the rear weight bias enhancing performance in a straight line and while cornering on the track.
Better responsiveness and sense of control due to repositioning the driver closer to the car’s front axles.
The fastest 0-60 time of any entry Corvette ever — under three seconds when equipped with the Z51 Performance Package.
A racecar-like view of the road due to lowered positioning of the hood, instrument panel, and steering wheel. The 2021 Corvette provided excellent forward sightlines throughout the vehicle for both the driver and passenger.
Dual (front and rear) storage trunks which provided a total of 12.6 cubic feet of cargo volume, which was ideal for a set of luggage or two sets of golf clubs
Inspired by Racing and Aviation
Like the 2020 model before it, the 2021 Corvette Stingray featured a “bold, futuristic expression with mid-engine exotic proportions” that was still, unmistakably Corvette. Look at the car from the front or rear, and you’d recognize the familiar air inlets along the front fascia, all of which harken back to the front end of the 2019 Corvette ZR1. From the rear, the 2021 Stingray could almost pass for the rear fascia of its seventh-generation counterpart, albeit with more refined features. However, the elongated rear end, the dramatic side air scoops, and the visible engine peeking out thru the rear decklid glass are all significant differentiators which state unequivocally that this is not your grandfather’s Corvette.
“As America’s most iconic performance nameplate, redesigning the Corvette Stingray from the ground up presented the team a historic opportunity, something Chevrolet designers have desired for over 60 years,” said Michael Simcoe, vice president of Global Design, General Motors. “It is now the best of America, a new arrival in the mid-engine sports car class. We know Corvette can stand tall with the best the world has to offer.” (from Chevrolet Press for 2020 Corvette Stingray).
The 2021 Corvette Stingray featured a supercar level of craftsmanship, and utilized premium materials throughout its build. The design efforts that went into Chevy’s mid-engine Corvette were unprecedented in the history of the brand. Every component required an exacting level of detail from the team responsible for its fabrication. The result? A Corvette that rivals the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Porsche in terms of build quality and use of premium materials. This new Corvette is lean and muscular and conveys a sense of power and speed from every angle.
In addition to the coupe model, the 2021 Corvette Stingray was also offered as a hardtop convertible. The Stingray’s convertible design drew inspiration from military fighter craft from that era. The car’s tonneau cover features aerodynamically shaped nacelles that were reminiscent of the housings surrounding the engines on fighter aircraft like the F/A-18 Hornet and the YF-22 Raptor. Moreover, the nacelles were also carryovers from Zora Arkus-Duntov’s CERV (Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicles) I and II, as well as the Corvette SS and SR2 concept vehicles. These nacelles were designed to reduce air recirculation into the cabin, thereby ensuring a higher level of comfort for the vehicle occupants, even when running wide open on the interstate.
The 2021 Stingray convertible’s two-piece top would operate at speed of up to 30 miles per hour. It fully retracted in as little as 16 seconds and was operated by six, separate, electric motors. Switching to electric motors from hydraulic systems helped increase reliability. A body-colored roof came standard, while Carbon Flash metallic-painted nacelles and roof were optional. When fully collapsed, the composite top was stowed in a compartment made from lightweight composite panels and heat shields designed to protect the roof panel from the heat of the engine.
At the Heart of the Beast
The 2021 Stingray featured Chevy’s next-generation LT2 engine, a 6.2-liter, naturally aspirated, small-block V8 engine. The engine was rated at 495 horsepower (369kW) and 470 lb-ft (637 Nm) of torque (when equipped with the performance exhaust option. This is an unprecedented amount of horsepower and torque for a base-level Corvette coupe or convertible. To lend some perspective to the level of power and performance, the sixth-generation Corvette Z06 featured a 505 horsepower, 470 lb-ft of torque V8 engine. But here’s where it gets interesting: the 2013 Corvette Z06 had a 0-60 time of 3.9 seconds whereas the 2021 Corvette base coupe can achieve a 0-60 time of just 2.9 seconds….its a full second faster – out of a base model Corvette!
“Though now placed behind the driver, the LT2 gives the same visceral experience we all expect from Corvette,” said Jordan Lee, GM’s global chief engineer of Small Block engines. “The LT2 has been designed to deliver excellent low-end torque and high-end power to give thrilling pedal response at any RPM.”
One of the most notable improvements found on the LT2 engine platform is its lubrication and ventilation system. For the first time in the brand’s history, the base level coupe and convertible will come equipped with a dry-sump lubrication system and three scavenge pumps for improved track performance. In instances when the 2021 Corvette Stingray is driven hard on the race track, the dry-sump system was designed to maintain the same oil volume to avoid any diminished performance. It is capable of providing exceptional engine performance even when lateral acceleration exceeds 1G in any direction.
For anyone who purchased a coupe, the 2021 Stingray also featured a 3.2mm-thick glass panel on the rear hatch which showcased the mid-mounted engine. This panel featured a cantilevered trailing edge which was designed to evacuate heat from the LT2 engine compartment.
Other notable engine characteristics include:
A jewel-like display setting in the rear compartment which was completely visible through the rear glass hatch.
Every part, including the exhaust system’s wires, tubes, routing fasteners, coolant hoses, exhaust manifold, and even the bolts and fasteners, was built with aesthetics/appearance at the forefront of the design. All engine components were given careful consideration – just like the rest of the car’s exterior. Even the heat shields was textured.
A brand-new block and ventilation system. The centerline of the crankshaft sits a full inch lower to the ground where it mates to the transaxle for better handling.
Low-profile oil pan which reduces mass.
The engine oil cooler capacity was increased by 25 percent.
Standard edge Red valve covers are included from the factory.
A Strong Engine Requires A Strong Transmission
The next-generation LT2 engine was paired with Chevrolet’s first TREMEC eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. Although Chevrolet did not offer a manual transmission option on the 2021 Corvette Stingray, the TR-9080 DCT TREMEC eight-speed provides lightning-fast shifting that responds to the driver’s environment instantly. While the automatic eliminated some driver control of the shifting, the intuitive response from the automatic provided unparalleled shift response in any driving condition. From recreational driving to aggressive track handling, the 2021 Corvette’s transmission response is immediate, optimizing gear choice faster than any human response could.
For those wishing to drive their car like a manual, the 2021 Corvette included double-paddle shifters. In addition to shifting the car into higher or lower gears, the vehicle operator could also disconnect the clutch completely by pulling back on both paddles simultaneously, essentially dropping the transmission into neutral gear. However, the transmission’s performance algorithms are so driver-focused that the car senses what the driver is doing and can anticipate their next move – often before the driver knows.
The 2021 Stingray’s LT2 Small Block V-8 included a torque curve optimized to take advantage of the DCT’s (Dual Clutch Transmission’s) lightning-fast shifts. Engineers configured the DCT with a very low first gear to leverage the additional traction needed to launch the car off the line. Once moving, its close-ratio second thru sixth gears kept the engine output near the power peak on track. A tall seventh and eighth gears make for easy long-distance cruising with low mechanical stress and excellent fuel economy.