Looking at the new shots and video of prototypes, we see can see that the C8 will be similar in size to the C7 but with a lower, wider stance. It won’t get vertical-lifting doors of many exotics, though it looks like there will be a short front overhang. Flanking the engine bay is a pair of chunky buttresses and we’re told designers will add a sheet of glass in the center to show off the engine (it’s concealed here). One of the biggest challenges is thought to be heat management. We can also see a rear-facing camera that feeds images to a digital rearview mirror inside (there’s also a digital instrument cluster) and what also looks to be dual-caliper brakes at the rear.
The new Corvette won’t be a pricey limited edition supercar like the modern Ford GT. We hear the basis for the car’s mid-engine platform is the C7’s aluminum spaceframe structure rather than a completely new design. As for powertrains, the base model shown here should come with the C7 Corvette Stingray’s 6.2-liter V-8 delivering about 500 horsepower. Later, a 5.5-liter V-8 with a flat-plane crank and DOHC design is expected to be dropped in, complete with about 600 hp. Then, a twin-turbocharging option for this engine could surface, seeing output rise to 800 hp.
But wait, there’s more. At the top of the heap is expected to sit a hybrid—yes, a hybrid Corvette—powertrain adding an electric motor to the front axle and utilizing the twin-turbo V-8 for the rear axle to generate a hypercar-rivaling 1,000 hp.
By now you’re probably wondering why GM would rock the boat with such a dramatic change to the Corvette formula. Apparently the front engine, rear-wheel-drive layout is reaching its limits. Also, the Alpha-based Camaro is already snapping at the heels of its big brother.
There’s also a bit of mid-engine Corvette history. Corvette father Zora Arkus-Duntov was a huge fan of the layout, especially for motorsports. He helped GM build a number of mid-engine concepts for testing purposes, the original being the first CERV (Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle) concept rolled out in 1960. Don’t be surprised if a Corvette ZR1 successor is named after him, since we know GM has a trademark for Zora.
Going mid-engine won’t be the only major change for the C8: another will be price. While the base C7 starts close to $60,000, the new price of entry is thought to be rising to approximately $80,000. The higher price can be justified by the more exotic layout, plus it provides a nice buffer with the Camaro. The change will also help the C8 become a semi-exotic halo model for Chevrolet worldwide, similar to what the GT-R is for Nissan and the NSX is to Acura and Honda. It will also make the C8 a better performer on the racetrack.
Production will take place at the Corvette’s home in Bowling Green, Kentucky. GM has spent over $700 million in upgrades to the plant in preparation for the new car.
Unfortunately, the news of the mid-engine Corvette means the C7 was the nameplate’s last with a front-mounted engine. The final C7, a black Z06, was sold for $2.7 million at a charity auction in June.