Hardcore hybrid will be used for C8 version of America’s iconic sports car, due in 2019
9 August 2018

The eighth-generation Chevrolet Corvette will switch to a mid-engined layout for the first time in the model’s history.

Recent photographs of a test mule confirm years of rumours that the next generation of America’s sports car, due on sale in late 2019, will undergo the most radical change in the car’s 65-year history.

In a further break with tradition, the new Corvette, known by its C8 model code, will be sold alongside a version of the current car. Sources inside General Motors, which owns the Chevrolet brand, indicate that we can expect a slightly revised version of the existing C7 as an entry-level alternative. Although the C8 will carry a price premium over its front-engined sibling, it will be sold at a price that significantly undercuts the junior supercars offered by other manufacturers.

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There will be no surprise in the choice of launch powerplant, with the C8 set to reach the market using a developed version of General Motor’s current LT-spec 6.2-litre V8. Although this engine still uses pushrods, and will be unable to match the low-down torque of turbocharged alternatives, the all-alloy unit has many virtues: it is light, responsive, relatively cheap to build and able to generate around 500bhp with little work.

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It also gives a clear connection between the radical new car and the front-engined Corvette that will continue in production. This could be advantageous given the existing car has an older and more conservative buying profile than other sports cars in the US.

Punchier powerplants are a certainty, however — especially given GM’s history of offering faster variants soon after the launch of a base car.

Media in the US have reported that these will include a newly developed overhead camshaft V8, set to be sold in both naturally aspirated and twin-turbo forms, the latter sure to produce at least as much as the 745bhp of the current supercharged Corvette ZR1. Beyond that, a hybrid version will add an electrically powered front axle to the mix, potentially giving a total system output approaching 1000bhp.

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Another big change will be a new twin-clutch transaxle gearbox, developed by transmission supplier Tremec and effectively removing the option of a conventional manual version — a significant shift given the relatively high percentage of current Corvettes that are still sold with a clutch pedal.

Like its rivals from Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren, the new Corvette will display its mid-mounted engine through a glass cover.

Other parts of the design remain a closely guarded secret for now; the test mule gives little away beyond the need for significant cooling at the front of the car. Despite GM’s sale of its European operations to the PSA Group last year, the new car is being developed with significant use of the Nürburgring Nordschleife and we can expect the sort of aggressive aerodynamics necessary for good high-speed performance there, possibly including active elements.

But while the C8 will no doubt be extremely fast, the need to keep costs down means that the use of expensive materials will be limited. The chassis is believed to be an aluminium spaceframe, and it will have the glassfibre bodywork that has been used by every previous generation. Carbon brakes are certain to be available, but the new Corvette is likely to stick to a base specification of cast-iron discs for the same reason.While the C7 Corvette has a ‘targa’ roof with removable panels, it seems likely that the C8 will shift to a more conventional split between coupé and a convertible, the latter to follow at a later date.

The finished car will be shown in the US early next year, although it is understood that it won’t be at the Detroit motor show. Sales will begin in the US in the autumn, with a base price under $100,000 (£75,000 at current exchange rates).

There is no confirmation of right-hand-drive production, which would seem like a long shot despite the success that the Ford Mustang has enjoyed in the UK and Australia.

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A US source said that the loss of Vauxhall and Opel has not made a significant difference in the case for European sales, with the C6 and C7 Corvettes both sold on this side of the Atlantic through non-GM channels, albeit in tiny volumes. 

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Comments
13

9 August 2018
I'd like to see 750 kW from the twin turbo, 900+ kW from the hybrid. GM, make it happen!

9 August 2018

why? jason_recliner, its obviously if they did make one, you won't be able to afford it with your shitty salary

9 August 2018
car.mad.dave wrote:

why? jason_recliner, its obviously if they did make one, you won't be able to afford it with your shitty salary

Maybe I could afford it if I sold one of my houses.

9 August 2018
car.mad.dave wrote:

why? jason_recliner, its obviously if they did make one, you won't be able to afford it with your shitty salary

No doubt you're on the BIG bucks with grammar and syntax like that.

Attention people, we have a BALLER in our midst!

9 August 2018

It's definitely not powerful enough already.

9 August 2018

 Yep, looks like a Vette you’d want, now if they could only do what Ford did, make some in RHD!, wouldn’t you want it to appeal to other drivers in other Territories......?

Peter Cavellini.

9 August 2018

It’s not a Corvette for me. In the same way that a Cayman is not a 911. I’m glad there are keeping the existing car - does this mean GM is getting nervous about switching to a mid-engine layout?

9 August 2018

 Other than the Nissan GTR of the top of my Head, most 1,000bhp+ Cars are mid-engined, I don’t think People will stop buying them just because the Engine has been moved, they’re being proactive, let’s just hope they get it right.

Peter Cavellini.

9 August 2018

Just what we need, another hypercar. This is not what a Corvette is about.

9 August 2018
Will86 wrote:

Just what we need, another hypercar. This is not what a Corvette is about.

I have to agree. The appeal of the Corvette is its affordable price, n/a V8, and Manual box. 

If you want a mid engined automatic supercar there are already many to choose from. I assume the fact the C7 will continue alongside is GM spreading their bets. Who knows, maybe there will be a 2 car family of Corvettes in the future, front and mid engined (i doubt there are enough buyers, but hope i am wrong). 

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