Mid-ship ’Vette bound for Oz

Next-gen Corvette to be right-hook, mid-engined $120,000 V8 Holden halo g g

TOBY HAGON

HOLDEN’S post-Commodore V8 hero car – the all-new C8 Corvette due in 2019 – will be a $120,000- plus mid-engine belter set to take the performance fight to Ferrari for one-third of the price.

The next-generation Corvette will emerge from the Bowling Green production line with the steering wheel on the right and deliver traditional V8 performance as well as a hybrid-infused high-tech knockout as part of a three-tiered range set to redefine America’s most iconic muscle car.

It will possibly use the Zora name – referencing Zora Arkus-Duntov, the ‘father’ of the original 1953 Corvette. GM has also trademarked E-Ray, which on a hybrid The shift will allow for h is expected to be used flagship. to a mid-engine layout or better positioning of weight over the rear wheels, bringing dynamic benefits and allowing for more power in highend versions of what insiders say will be the fastest, most engaging Corvette in the 64-year history of the model.

Recently snapped spy shots of a heavily camouflaged Corvette have confirmed years of midengine speculation that reached fever pitch in 2015 when pictures of a modified VE Commodore ute test mule emerged.

That early mule – which allowed easy fitment of a V8 in the modified tray of the ute – has been sidelined, with near-production ready prototypes undergoing final validation ahead of an anticipated public reveal early in 2018.

General Motors executives, led by former Holden boss and now GM product chief Mark Reuss, were said to be considering revealing the C8 Corvette at the LA motor show late this year, but insiders say there were concerns an early reveal would risk the sizzle simmering down by the time the car reaches showrooms, as it did to a degree with the rival Ford GT.

Despite the dramatic shift in its basic layout the C8 will continue with key Corvette styling themes, including the low-slung shape, distinctive Camaro-inspired tail lights that were a controversial addition to the soon-to-bediscontinued C7, and pronounced rear hips, complete with air intakes to feed the trio of V8 options.

The move to a mid-engine layout will continue along with the Ferrari-crushing price tag, at least in its most basic guise, which is

Dramatic, Simcoeapproved exterior will incorporate active aerodynamic elements front and rear for reduced lift, improved stability and an ultralow coefficient of drag.

For the two ICE-only variants, expect two different spec V8 engines. Choice between new supercharged dohc ‘LT5’, or pushrod 375kW small block.

High-tech architecture to make use of advanced materials, including carbon composites for structural components.

Will be built in left- and right-hand drive.

A 500kW hybrid, likely called E-Ray, will be the range-topper. Battery packs will be under the floor and in the nose, with electric motors powering the front wheels.

BADGE ENGINEERING

What badges the Corvette will wear is still under intense discussion internally. It’s widely expected the Zora nameplate – referencing Zora Arkus- Duntov, the ‘father’ of the original 1953 Corvette – will grace the C8 Corvette. Holden trademarked the Zora name six months before GM Asia-Pacific chief Stefan Jacoby confirmed Australia would get a V8 sports car, without detailing which one.

Overseas GM has reserved E-Ray, which is expected to be applied to the hybrid flagship.

Whether Australia will get the classic Corvette wings badge is a matter for IP Australia, which last year rejected an application to register the logo on the grounds it too closely represents the Red Cross. Holden has since reapplied and is awaiting a response.

expected to use a 375kW smallblock ohv V8. output may seem low, but GM is also expected to weight to create the fastest Corvette in Further, we understand that as its muscles throughout its life, we can new dohc engine hi-po ZR1, also likely to utilised with the drivetrain.

Penned under guidance of design chief, Australian Mike Simcoe, the C8 Corvette will adopt modern aerodynamic principles from supercars as diverse as Porsche McLaren; think air blades to release pressure lift in the wheelarches, as to divert air even more higher-output ZR1 model 500kW, arrive until But it’s the hotly anticipated hybrid ’Vette, possibly to be called E-Ray, that will top the power race.

Without elaborating on the C8, Chevrolet design boss John Cafaro told Wheels a hybrid powertrain made sense for supercars.

“[Chevrolet] Bolt technology and electrification really has applications in performance cars,” said Cafaro. “You see it at Le Mans … it’s going to happen.” 37 block That power outpu e focus on reducing w Co eight generations. under the ’Vette flexes it expect a ne for the hi which is be utili hybrid Pen the g GM d Aust Simc Corv ado aero prin sup dive and thin rele and whe well as vents at the rear.

The aero will be e crucial for a highermodel with around although it won’t ar 2020 at the earliest.

B t it’ th h tl While Cafaro says the floor is the most logical place for batteries in an electric car – helping lower the centre of gravity – the mid-engine Corvette is tight for space everywhere except under the bonnet. Such a move would pave the way for electric motors powering the front wheels.

It’s weight that’s the challenge for any hybrid system, something GM’s vast battery lab at Warren is working hard to overcome.

All drivetrains should be available to Holden; as the lack of an engine under the bonnet allows easier placement and shuffling of steering and brake components.

For decades GM has dreamt of mid-engine Corvettes, but production costs and complexities have resulted in the V8 being placed up front instead.

Work on a mid-engine C7 Corvette was well underway from 2006, before being shelved when GM filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

A large tech influence on the C8 will be the Cadillac CT6 unveiled in 2015. It’s a car that stretched engineers at Warren to rethink the makeup and production of a luxury car.

The CT6 uses 11 different materials in its body as part of its ‘mixed material’ strategy, whereby various grades of steel and aluminium are used.

The C8 will have an aluminium intensive frame wrapped in carbon composite panels, but expect GM to infuse it with production efficiencies gleaned from the CT6.

There’s plenty of detail yet to surface about the C8 Corvette, but what is becoming clearer is that it will be the most technologically advanced car ever to emerge from General Motors.

The C8 Corvette will be the most advanced car ever to emerge from GM