It’s like the rumor that won’t die: reports have emerged (again) that the next-generation C7 Chevrolet Corvette will have its engine migrate from front to middle. While it now seems a little improbable for the C7 to be a mid-engine Corvette, plucky Britpub Autocar is reviving the speculation once again.
A report from British magazine Autocar uses a quote from a General Motors executive that the C7 Corvette would be “completely different” from the current generation, leading them to speculate that the Vette would be moving to a mid-engine layout. However, when we spoke with Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter last year, he staunchly defended the C6 Corvette’s front-mounted engineering.
What the report out of the U.K. may have nailed on the head, though, is the possibility of a smaller powertrain for the C7. It has long been rumored that the next Corvette will offer a V-8 engine, but will also offera smaller, forced-induction V-6. A smaller engine would help to broaden the appeal of the Corvette internationally, while simultaneously curtailing both emissions and fuel consumption. One possibility is a twin-turbocharged form of GM’s direct-injection 3.6-liter V-6, an engine we first heard rumors of early last year.
Although the C7 won’t be an exact clone of the 2009 Corvette Stingray/ Centennial concept, it will incorporate a number of design cues shown on the stunning show car. Perhaps most notable will be the return of the split rear window (previously used only on the ’63 Corvette), which has been hinted at occasionally by Ed Welburn, GM’s vice president of design. Welburn has also promised a “world-class” interior to replace the depressingly dour cockpit of the current Corvette.
So, when can we see the finished product? All signs point to soon -- and by soon, we mean no sooner than 2013 (a 2012 C6, which incorporates some minor upgrades, has already been announced). GM recently announced a $131 million investment in its Bowling Green, Kentucky assembly plant, and described the investment as a catalyst to retool the plant to build the all-new Corvette.