Conspicuous.

I wasn’t prepared for how conspicuous I would be behind the wheel of the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 Stingray.

You’d think I was driving the Wienermobile.

I had a week with the new mid-engine C8, and every day was the same — people stopped to look, ask questions and take pictures.

Some people didn’t even wait till we were stopped.

I had one person pull even with me while we were side-by-side on I-30. I looked over and he had his phone up, taking pictures.

I’ve never seen anything like it, and neither had they, apparently.

More than one person made a U-Turn and pulled into where I was parked to ask if I would show them the car.

After driving the C8 for a week, I understood the attraction.

The 2020 Corvette is a big change — the engine was moved from the front to behind the seats, and it changes the look and feel of the car.

Gone is the long hood that seemed to stretch out forever. It’s been replaced by a shorter hood that drops off so it’s not even visible from the driver’s seat.

The engine is a beast, but it’s surprisingly quiet at highway speeds.

Don’t get me wrong — step on the gas and the engine just leaps. Even driving at 75 mph down the interstate, there was always more power in the 8-speed automatic when I asked for it.

But I’m not a car reviewer by trade; I’m a tech reviewer. So this is a review of the cool new technology in the C8.

The interior of the C8 is striking.

It is dominated by two LCD screens — one is behind the steering wheel, where the instrument cluster would be, and the second is the entertainment system in the center of the dash.

The C8 is a driver’s car. The cockpit wraps around the driver with a sweeping vertical row of buttons that make up the climate system controls.

These buttons sit on top of a wall that can leave the passenger feeling a bit squeezed.

When you drive the C8, you get to choose from several driving modes that shape how different systems of the car react.

There are preset driving modes called Tour, Sport, Track and Weather and two modes where you can customize the ride.

You change modes with a wheel on the center console. The wheel is covered with a leather guard that keeps you from changing modes by mistake, and the guard gives your palm a place to rest when you’re interacting with the entertainment touch screen.

These modes allow for different settings for engine sound, steering, suspension, powertrain (throttle response, gear shifting) and brake response.

My Mode lets you pick your own subset of those settings.

My C8 was equipped with the Z51 package that includes another customizable mode called Z-mode, which is quickly accessible with a Z-button on the steering wheel.

You configure your custom modes through the Vehicle tab on the Settings app in the entertainment screen.

Modes and cameras

The 12-inch screen behind the steering wheel is called the Driver Information Center. It’s the car’s digital gauges, and they are also customizable.

When the driver changes driving modes, the screen shows a different layout for the speedometer and tachometer. Surrounding these main gauges are areas for more gauges and information displays.

If you’d rather see the coolant temperature than the battery voltage, you can change it.

Chevy also created a Simple mode that makes all the surrounding information disappear so the driver can concentrate on the speedometer and tachometer.

The screen is very bright and easy to read in all lighting conditions.

The center touch screen is where you get to interact with the C8.

The 8-inch LCD screen is the heart of the car’s infotainment system, which includes Sirius/XM, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth and AM/FM/HD radio.

The C8 I tested had the 2LT Preferred Equipment Package that includes an upgraded Bose 14-speaker audio system.

The car also had a wireless phone charger between the seats. When your phone is docked in the charger, it is not accessible by the driver, which is nice. Pairing the phone with the car gives you all the access you need for safe operation while driving.

The C8 projects information onto the lower portion of the windshield so you can monitor current speed, RPM and even the speed limit of the road you’re on. The information presented changes with each driving mode as well. I love it and wish my car had it.

Because of the C8’s mid-engine design, the view out back from the rearview mirror is less than ideal.

The 2LT package includes a rear mirror camera you can activate with a switch under the mirror. It activates a special backward-facing camera on top of the car’s engine cover. The view from the camera is very clear, and you can even tilt and zoom the image to suit your eye. I left it on all the time.

Racing technology

The C8 has a few tech tricks up its sleeve to help drivers who take their cars to the track.

Aside from the 6.2L V8 engine with an eight-speed dual clutch transmission, the car I drove had the Z51 package with better brakes, suspension, exhaust and rear axle ratio, as well as an electronic limited slip differential, a rear spoiler, a heavy duty cooling system and high-performance tires.

Inside, the C8 has a performance data and video recorder that is activated when you put an SD card into a slot in the glove box. The car has a front-facing camera behind the rear camera mirror. This camera can record your laps around the track and overlay various information like speed, time and G-force and when you accelerate and brake. You can even save different track layouts in the overlay.

The camera system can also be set in a dash cam mode to constantly record when the car is running.

The C8 can time itself in 0-to-60 mph runs. Activate the self-timer in the car’s settings. From a stop, you simply floor it and the stopwatch begins and it will display your time when you reach 60 mph.

Chevy says the C8 will go 0-to-60 in 2.9 seconds, but I was only able to make the run in 3.9 seconds, which still made me smile.

Chevy offers only an automatic transmission on the C8, although there is a manual mode on the push-button gear selector that lets the driver shift the gears using paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

Pricing

The 2020 C8 has a starting sticker price of $58,900, which is one heck of a deal. The car I reviewed is a Stingray Coupe with the 2LT package, which raises the base price to $66,200.

Other options include the Z51 package ($5,000), magnetic selective ride control ($1,895), red calipers ($595), 19-inch front/20-inch rear run-flat tires with upgraded wheels ($1,495), GT2 upgraded seats ($1,495) and red seat belts ($395). With a destination charge, the sticker price for the C8 I drove is $78,170.

I realize this review is short on driving impressions, so here it is — I loved every minute driving the C8.

It is such an easy car to drive that a four-hour trip to East Texas and back didn’t tire us out at all. The seats were amazingly comfortable, and when we took the top off (it stores in the rear storage area behind the engine), the wind in our hair was great.

Everything about the C8 is designed to please the driver, and I had a great week behind the wheel.

However, getting in and out of the C8 was not exactly pain-free for me. The seating position is pretty low, and folding myself up to get in and out reminded me that I need to lose a few (dozen) pounds.

But as I said at the beginning, you don’t buy a Corvette to blend in.

The C8 is a fantastic combination of styling and speed that will definitely attract attention wherever you go.

Pros: Relatively inexpensive, unreal speed, handling, braking, styling.

Cons: Can be hard to get into and out of if you’re my size. Passengers are squeezed.

Bottom line: I loved every minute behind the wheel.

Tribune Wire

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