Our spy photographers have once again caught the next-generation Chevrolet Corvette testing. Known as the C7 in reference to the car's seventh generation, the 2014 Corvette is almost certain to debut publicly in early 2013, likely at the Detroit auto show.
This photo appears to show a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette with a removable targa-style roof panel; as with the current car, coupe and convertible models are also expected to be offered. The basic design follows the wide, long-hood appearance of the current, C6-generation car. The front fenders rise up above the otherwise sloping hood, and the rear fenders are unsurprisingly tall and wide to accommodate massive tires. As we've previously reported, rumors of a modern-day "split window" design are incorrect. This prototype has a simple, wide, and steeply sloped rear window. Up front, we see the wide egg-crate grille a bit more clearly. Out back, four center-mounted tailpipes are a mainstay of performance cars. Though the camouflage has circular cutouts, close inspection reveals four discrete rectangular taillights -- a design seen on the Chevrolet Camaro and subsequently translated for use on the Malibu sedan.
This isn't the first time we've seen prototypes of the next-generation Chevrolet Corvette. In January, we spotted a heavily camouflaged C7 Corvette prototype cold-weather testing on snow and ice in northern Canada. In April, a video surfaced online of the car testing in Michigan.
We know that a new Corvette is coming not just because of these photos, but also because of announcements from Chevrolet. First, the company revealed various special-edition and anniversary models for the 2013 Chevrolet Corvette, which is typically a sure-fire sign that a car is on its way out. Moreover, General Motors publicly announced an investment and hiring spree that will temporarily close the Bowling Green, Kentucky, factory in order to retool for the new Chevrolet Corvette.
Ignore the rumors about a mid-mounted V-6. All indications are that the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette will launch with a new direct-injected small-block V-8. We can expect it to displace 5.5 liters and produce around 440 hp. The engine will probably still use pushrods and a two-valve head. Transmission choices are expected to comprise a seven-speed manual and an eight-speed automatic; the extra gears would help both acceleration and fuel economy.
The 2014 Corvette will probably have a slightly longer wheelbase in order to improve handling and ride comfort, but overall the car will be a bit smaller. Some rumors suggest the car will adopt a pricey aluminum space frame, but it remains to be seen whether such a costly weight-saving measure would make sense on the Corvette. Either way, expect GM to pull out all the dieting stops to reduce the 2014 Corvette's curb weight.
The best news of all is that Chevrolet will pay heavy attention to revamping the interior. We're told to expect Porsche 911 levels of quality and finish, which is refreshing given that many current Corvette interior parts are shared with pedestrian models like the old Chevrolet Cobalt and Malibu.
Look for more official news on the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette next year.