- Pricing and launch dates have been confirmed for the first right-hand-drive Corvette.
- The 2020 mid-engine C8 will be launched with the reversed steering wheel in 2021, aimed at the U.K., Japan, and Australia.
- British pricing will start at the equivalent of $86,150 for the loaded Launch Edition.
The machinations of the global automotive industry have denied U.S. buyers many interesting and exciting models over the years, but there are examples of the process working in reverse. Chevrolet has never before produced right-hand-drive versions of the Corvette, something that has effectively stymied the all-American sports car’s chances of being taken seriously in those parts of the world that persist in driving on the other side of the road.
Until now, that is—with the launch in 2021 of a right-hand-drive version of the C8. You might be surprised to hear that about a third of the world’s population lives in countries that drive on the left, but the Corvette has been designed primarily for those markets that combine RHD with an appetite for performance cars, most obviously the United Kingdom, Japan, and Australia.
Surprisingly, Ford has a modest role to pay for the decision to pay the considerable development costs of the right-hook Vette. GM insiders have admitted that the success of RHD versions of the current Ford Mustang, the first of its line to be offered with its cabin layout reversed, did much to prove that demand did exist. The C8’s mid-engine layout and lack of a manual-transmission option have also made it much better suited to having its driving position moved.
Yet Chevrolet’s decision also flies in the face of GM’s speedy retreat from volume operations in both Europe and Australia. The company sold its Opel and Vauxhall subsidiaries to the French PSA Group in 2017, and they have since become part of the even bigger FCA-PSA merger. GM is also closing its Holden subsidiary in Australia, having bought the brand as long ago as 1931, a process that should be finished by the end of this year. The Corvette will be sold by a much smaller dealer network and, in most of Europe, alongside a limited range of Cadillac models.
But overseas buyers will be paying a substantial premium for their Corvettes. In Europe, Chevrolet has only released U.K. pricing for the fully loaded right-hand-drive Launch Edition. The coupe will cost the equivalent of $86,150 at current exchange rates, and the convertible will be the equivalent of $91,850.
That will bring what is effectively a range-topping car with 3LT trim and the Z51 performance pack that brings upgraded Brembo brakes, an electronically controlled limited-slip differential, a performance exhaust, and Michelin Sport 4S tires, plus the further enhancement of Magnetic Selective Ride Control dampers. Cheaper versions will follow, but Chevrolet says that the midrange 2LT will be the entry-level version in Europe.
That pricing makes the Launch Edition just cheaper than an entry-level 992-generation Porsche 911 Carrera 2 in the U.K., although the Chevrolet will come with much more generous standard equipment. In the U.S., the base car is priced just above the four-cylinder Porsche Cayman. So while the rest of the world is set to share America’s good fortune in being able to buy the Corvette, it is also going to pay more for the privilege of being able to do so.
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