After seven generations of front-engine, rear-wheel-drive Chevrolet Corvettes, the C8 is switching to a mid-engine configuration. The C8 Zora is likely to be unveiled January 2018 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, with production to begin in time for a fall ’18 release, possibly earlier. The Corvette’s Bowling Green, Kentucky, assembly plant suspended public tours this year, suggesting that Chevy has begun to build C8 prototypes there.
Arguments against a mid-engine C8 are the configuration’s higher cost and its departure from the Great American Sports Car’s image. Arguments for it are stronger. First, Corvette buyers are getting old, and they would find little reason to trade in for an evolutionary, front-engine C8 Corvette. Foremost, by switching to mid-engine, Chevrolet is doing what Porsche refuses to do with the Corvette’s direct competitor, the 911. By going mid-engine with the C8, Chevy may finally have a Corvette that can out-handle the 911.
Spy shots suggest the C8 will not be mistaken for any other mid-engine sports car, with a hood nearly as long as the C7’s, though with a short dash-to-axle ratio and a long rear deck.
Sale of brand-new, front-engine C7s will overlap with the release of the C8 by up to one calendar year.
Spy shots of C8 Zora mules show the car accompanied by C7s with big rear wings and camouflaged front clips. The illustration below shows the ZR1 featuring huge air intakes and additional aero tweaks. The C6 ZR1’s LS9 is rated at 638 hp, and the C7 Z06’s LT4 supercharged small-block makes 650 hp. We expect the C7 ZR1’s supercharged small-block’s horsepower number to begin with a seven.
The C8 Corvette is expected to again use the latest performance variants of Chevrolet’s venerable small-block V-8 under its relocated engine cover. GM also has been developing a new 4.0-liter double-overhead-cam turbocharged V-8 primarily for Cadillac models. That engine would provide more variation, beyond sheetmetal, to distinguish the C8 from Cadillac’s rumored mid-engine sports car.
Although not confirmed, a Cadillac sports car based on the mid-engine Corvette is believed to be under development. GM has trademarked the Manta Ray name for a performance variant of the C8 and E-Ray for a performance hybrid.
The 2019 Corvette goes on sale in mid- to late 2018. The C7 ZR1 should start from an estimated $105,000, while the Zora might offer a base price as low as $65,000 or as high as $95,000.