Part of the Chevrolet Corvette’s appeal has long been performance at a relative bargain. Sure, it may cost more than $100,000 for a performance version, but that six-figure Corvette can challenge cars two or three times the price. And now Chevrolet has added a new optional feature to make the eighth-generation mid-engine C8 even more like its supercar competitors: a front suspension lift system that enables the Corvette to clear obstacles less extreme vehicles have no problem clearing (but those cars can’t go from 0-60 mph in under 3 seconds, either).
What It Does
In a Corvette equipped with the optional front lift, the driver approaches an obstacle — a speed bump, steep driveway, etc. — and presses the button ahead of the gear selector to activate the front lift. Assuming the car is traveling 24 mph or less, and there are no doors or trunks open, the hydraulics raise the front end about 2 inches in under 3 seconds and the driver can then scale the obstacle with less fear that the underside of the car is going to be damaged. Once over the obstacle, the driver can press the button again to lower the car, or accelerate above 24 mph and the car will automatically lower itself.
Should the obstacle be a regular part of a route, when activating the lift system, the driver will be prompted to have the car remember the location using GPS and lift itself when it arrives at that location in the future. The system can remember up to 1,000 locations. Adding a particular location to the memory is as simple as clicking the OK button on the steering wheel when prompted.
Here’s a video of how it works:
What It’s Like in Practice
It’s extremely cool and one of the first things I showed off to an interested friend. (Note: Besides the speed restriction, the system won’t lift the car if a door or trunk is open, so don’t be like me and try to activate it with the door open. It won’t work, and you’ll look silly.) Driving a car with supercar features — even if those features have nothing to do with going faster — is enjoyable, especially when the car doesn’t cost supercar money.
The lift was enough to handle the extra large speed bumps (“speed humps,” in Chicago parlance) in my neighborhood and throughout the city, as well as the entrance to the alley behind my building and many other parking lot entrances.
I also appreciated that the system works up to a reasonable speed. I didn’t have to test the patience of drivers behind me by coming to a full stop or slowing down to single digit speeds in order to get over a speed bump. All it takes is a little sense of timing to have the car fully lifted before you get to the speed bump or whatever else threatens the precious underside of the Corvette.
The memory function is also fairly straightforward and works quickly enough once engaged to lift the car — just give it time to work and don’t go racing toward a speed bump. In my brief time with the car I didn’t come close to finding 1,000 different locations for the system to remember (in case you were worried I wasted all my time driving a C8 Corvette over speed bumps, I did not), but that number feels substantial enough to meet most owners’ needs, and the lift will still work without the memory function.
Is It Worth the Cost?
How much would you pay to avoid the painful sound and accompanying sinking feeling of one of your favorite things being scraped against the road? The peace of mind that the system delivers seems well worth the $1,995 option cost on 2021 2LT and 3LT models; on our test car, a 2020 2LT, it was an even more reasonable $1,495. Buyers of 1LTs, however, will have to remain extra cautious or invest in aftermarket alternatives.
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