It’s tough to argue that you can’t get better performance out of a mid-engine supercar than you can out of America’s favorite front mounted V-8, rear wheel drive set up. I know, I’ve been trying to for months now.
The latest iteration of Chevrolet’s banner ride, the Corvette, comes with a number of all-new features for the platform beyond its engine placement. Lengthening its departure from its muscle car pedigree are other doodads like magnetic ride control that uses wheel position sensors to determine how level the ground is beneath the car, allowing it to make tighter turns than a good old fashioned bump-stop would allow. It’s also built around six six high-pressure diecast aluminum structural parts that were so ground breaking, Chevy couldn’t find anyone to even make a bid on producing them in large numbers, so Chevy decided to go ahead and learn how to do it themselves.
The final product is this car that looks sort of like a Ferrari 360 and a C7 ‘Vette shared a passionate night together in Le Mans and the poor C7 came back to the States as a single mom. I grew up with posters of Corvettes on my walls, and I’ll be honest… this isn’t what I was lusting after.
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t better. Nor does it mean this isn’t a smart play for Chevy. With more and more horsepower piling into showrooms around the country, it’s gotten hard for Chevrolet to distinguish the Corvette from lower-level competitors like its own Camaro. With other cars like Dodge’s factory drag-ready Hellcats on the market and many consumers basing their appreciation for a sports car on limited figures like 0-60 and quarter mile times, explaining the value of a Corvette has become a harder exercise.
“It’s lighter, handles better, turns better, and stops better!” You can shout at the guy lining up next to you at a stoplight in his Camaro Exorcist.
“Yeah… but I’m still going to win!” He retorts just before the light turns green. He’s probably not wrong either — it’s just that there’s a lot more to actual racing than there is to stoplight-to-stoplight showing off.
Chevrolet, then, had to make a dramatic change to make sure the Corvette doesn’t get lumped in with less refined, straight-line monsters. It also needed to bridge the performance gap between itself and its European competitors, lest it find itself once more on the losing side of comparisons. What they came up with is perhaps the most significant shift in the Corvette brand since its inception, and… just maybe… a glimpse into supercars of the future.
If this Corvette manages to do all that it has promised (including a sub-3 second 0-60 time, making the new base model Corvette just as fast as the most powerful Corvettes ever) and still ring in at under $60k while doing it… customers are going to have to start asking themselves, “well then why the hell am I paying so much to get the same performance from other car makers?”
This new Corvette may not bare as strong a resemblance to the Vetts of yesteryear as purists like me may prefer… but for those who trade on performance, these changes have been pretty welcome. My brother, a lifelong car guy that’s spent his entire career in the racing industry, now manages Road Atlanta, where he’s got a C7 Corvette at the track to tool around in, along with his own collection of go-fast cars that includes a Viper and a Hellcat. He placed his order for the new Corvette before he’d even seen it. Why? Because it promises to be just about the best performing car you can find for even twice the price… and when you work at a race track, it’s performance that matters, not the opinions of blow-hards like me.
So is this new Corvette going to be awesome? Chances are good that it is. Is it also going to be a Corvette? If you ask me, the jury is still out… but I’m ready to be wowed.
Feature image courtesy of General Motors