General Motors will put an all-new Chevrolet Corvette into production in 2013 – and the company's top executive says it will be “completely different” from the current C6, fueling rumors that it might be mid-engined.
Senior executives acknowledge that the current sixth-gen model falls short of the global appeal of rival sports cars from the likes of Ferrari and Porsche. The goal is to make the new Corvette a truly global competitor when production starts up in 2013, according to Mark Reuss, GM's North America president, although exact details are being closely guarded.
Adopting a mid-engined layout, rather than the long-running front-engined design, is a strong possibility, although it would be a significant engineering shift for GM. Even so, sources say this wouldn't be entirely out of line, because the Corvette has often served as a technological testbed. Chevrolet designers could also revive the split-window styling featured on the 1963 Corvette, today one of the most collectable versions of the two-seater.
One possibility for the C7, sources hint, will be the use of a downsized powertrain. Rather than the current big V8s – which develop as much as 638hp in the top-line ZR1 model – GM is reportedly looking at more advanced V6 alternatives.
Expect the interior to be much more modern in design than the current take, which GM global design chief Ed Welburn admits “is a disappointment.” The styling boss, a long-time Corvette fan himself, says he is personally overseeing the development of the C7 interior and promises it will be “absolutely world class.”
GM is investing $131 million in the Bowling Green, Ky., plant that produces the 'Vette to prepare for the C7 launch.
Meanwhile, Chevrolet has revised its 2012 Corvette for improved on-track performance and on-road comfort. The interior has gone under the greatest transformation. Changes include better-bolstered seats, a revised steering wheel, padded center console and armrests and an upgraded audio system. Customers opting for the hardcore 498hp Z06 and range-topping 629hp ZR1 models get the option of Pilot sport cup zero pressure tires for an “eight percent gain in lateral acceleration,” according to Chevy.
Also available for the first time on the Z06 is the company's performance traction management system as well as a carbon fiber hood and revised gearing in fifth and sixth for improved fuel economy.
Chief engineer Tadge Juechter said: “We constantly strive to make the Corvette a better car on the road and the track. For 2012, the Corvette lineup achieves its highest performance level ever, while at the same time being easier to drive and enjoy thanks to several changes and new features inside the car.”