When it comes to performance cars, there is an abundance of excellent choices in the premium price bracket, but if you’re looking for the best pick this year, the 2021 Chevrolet Corvette has been voted by our panel of more than 20 automotive experts from all over the country as the Best Performance Car Over $50,000 in the 2021 autoTRADER.ca Awards, winning the award for the second year in a row.
This powerhouse managed to impress our judges, who had the enviable task of judging the new Corvette alongside some serious rivals like the Porsche 911, Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman, Toyota GR Supra, Mercedes-AMG GT, and Jaguar F-Type. The Corvette managed its win thanks to a radical redesign, changing to a mid-engine layout similar to some of Europe’s finest offerings. Of course, that improved the performance potential for the Chevy, but there are plenty of other things our judges considered when voting for a winner.
While past Corvettes have been front-engined and sending power to the rear wheels, Chevrolet felt like it reached the ceiling of what that layout could achieve, so it redesigned the vehicle, putting the engine just behind the driver for better balance, which is an important aspect of any performance vehicle.
That mid-mounted engine is a 6.2-litre V8 making 495 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired to a dual-clutch eight-speed automatic transmission and adds up to let the ’Vette sprint to highway speeds in just three seconds thanks to a clever launch control system. Our first drive highlighted the exhaust note, calling it “glorious”, high praise considering some of the other vehicles in this segment. The top speed of the Corvette is an incredible 310 km/h, and it can complete the quarter-mile in an astounding 11.9 seconds.
The Corvette isn’t just speedy off the line; it can whip around a track with confidence, too. One of the more interesting changes in driving dynamics is how the Corvette isn’t as eager to oversteer as before, instead of lining up neatly on the track and feeling composed. Instead of feeling a bit tail-happy on a corner exit, the vehicle felt light on corner entry but composed when throttling out of it. That’s a rarity. Part of this new-found composure could be thanks to the high-performance stability and traction control system, which has plenty of settings and is smart enough to keep things safe but exciting on a closed course.
Without a doubt, this is the best Corvette ever from an engineering viewpoint, which enables those impressive performance capabilities.
Many excellent performance cars can easily handle a closed course but feel compromised for the everyday commute. The Corvette doesn’t follow this trend. The ride is composed on the street, getting close to the likes of other grand touring sports cars. An available magnetic ride control helps the Chevy stay compliant on the road but stiff and grippy on the track. The steering is a bit lighter than outgoing models, but that makes it easier to drive on the street. There is even a way to customize the various settings of the vehicle and tailor the driving experience to your liking or to different road conditions.
Adding to its practicality, the Corvette has both a front and rear trunk, making it a bit more functional than you’d expect with this body style, even having a specific area to store the Targa top.
The interior is also a step up from past Corvettes, with a nice selection of materials and switchgear that feels high quality. There’s also an easy-to-use infotainment system and a flashy digital gauge cluster that makes the vehicle feel more high-end. There were some complaints about the layout, which places a row of buttons between the driver and passenger, but in practice, this seemed to be less of a concern than expected.
The Corvette isn’t some spartan sports car, thanks to features like the upgraded Bose audio system with 14 speakers, as well as heated and ventilated seats, and a wireless phone charger. The Chevy really seemed to be as uncompromised as a sports car can be.
Have we mentioned the impressive starting price of the Corvette? It starts at $69,998, making it a performance bargain compared to some of the other vehicles in this class. At this price, the Corvette changes the dynamics of the entire industry by offering exotic looks, serious performance figures, and a comfortable cabin.
All of these aspects impressed our jury of automotive experts, and despite how controversial the new Corvette was, it shows that the risk GM took by changing the formula for this iconic sports car paid off.