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Corvette Central: Revamped C7, radical mid-engined C8 in GM's plans

Wed, 17 Mar 2010

General Motors is mulling a radical re-engineering for the Chevrolet Corvette, centered on a more fuel-efficient, mid-engined V6 powertrain, a lightweight alloy body and a more compact footprint.

The idea is to re-energize GM's ambition for the Corvette, with fundamental changes that will make it into a contemporary global supercar. The changes are penciled into GM's product plan for the next major model change, the C8, with an on-sale date around 2016. Both coupe and convertible models are planned.

The C7 had been the focus of plans for a mid-engined model capable of matching Europe's most exotic supercars. The mid-engined C7 got as far as engineering development but was canceled when the global credit crunch hit and GM faced financial woes that eventually led to the company's trip through bankruptcy court.

As a result, GM recast its Corvette plans around a more modest revamp of today's C6 into the C7 version, essentially a stopgap until the world-beating C8 arrives.

"That [the C7] will be the last of the traditional, old-style Corvettes," a senior GM insider told AutoWeek.

That will buy GM time while it works on a revolutionary new concept for the C8 Corvette that can blend fuel-economy and emissions improvements with the required level of supercar performance and handling.

An illustrated look at a potential rear design of the C8 Chevrolet Corvette.

Engineers are likely to shrink the C8 Corvette's footprint to cut weight and aerodynamic drag and reduce its visual bulk, which also will help with sales outside the United States.

Likely to shock Corvette purists is the suggestion that a V6 will replace a V8 in the C8, although 440 hp courtesy of twin turbochargers ought to calm fears of reduced power output.

With a traditional C7 on the horizon and a world-challenging all-new C8 in the wings, the survival of GM's greatest sports car likely will depend on its adaptability more than on its longevity.

There's more to this story in the March 22 issue of AutoWeek. To get the magazine, to go

By Julian Rendell