Launch control isn’t new, and it isn’t new to the Corvette, but with an all-new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and electronic shifter in the 2020 C8 Corvette, using it is now just a little different. Plus, there’s a new burnout mode for warming your tires before launch.
Getting the perfect launch is all about getting the vehicle moving in the most effective manner, but it doesn’t always mean using all the traction. After testing thousands upon thousands of cars, our colleagues at MotorTrend find it often depends on both the car and the tires it’s wearing. Some cars can just squat and go, but others need a little bit of wheelspin—which by definition isn’t using all of the tire’s available traction—to prevent the engine from bogging. The trade-off there is what time you lose with wheelspin is less than you’d lose by bogging. With advanced launch-control systems, though, you don’t even have to think about it.
It used to be a good driver could consistently beat the launch control, but these days a good computer can monitor the powertrain and wheels so precisely and respond so quickly that a human just can’t do any better. With its new weight balance and latest Performance Traction Management (PTM) software, the C8 Corvette is one of those cars. Using it is slightly more difficult than some sports cars, but you’ll recognize the procedure from past Corvettes.
The first step is to put the car in drive and select Track mode, then double-tap the ESC Off button just ahead of the mode-selector knob. This will bring up the PTM menu on the instrument cluster and allow you to select which program you want with the mode selector knob. The programs are familiar—Wet, Dry, Sport I, Sport II, and Race—and the computer safety net shrinks as you go through them. It doesn’t matter which you pick; launch control works in all of them and will give the best launch regardless.
Once you’ve selected a PTM mode, it’s as easy as standing on the brake with your left foot, flooring the gas with your right foot, and lifting off the brake after the revs settle at 3,500. Then hang on and steer as the car does its thing.
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As any racer knows, if you want the best grip, whether for launching or cornering, you have to warm your tires. Chevy has a mode for that, unofficially named “burnout mode.” It’s even easier to use than launch control because you don’t need to get into PTM modes and all that. Just put the car in drive, stand on the brake, pull both steering-wheel paddles to temporarily open the clutches, floor the throttle, and release the paddles when you’re ready to go. The computer will do a carefully controlled clutch dump and will let the tires spin rather than trying to get the perfect launch. When you’re done, just lift off the throttle.
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