Chevrolet made headlines last october when it introduced the Gen V small-block V-8 to the media, the first application of which will be in the all-new ’14 Corvette. The Gen V, which for reasons that could only make sense to those employed by GM, it is called LT1. It has neither reverse-flow cooling nor Optispark. What it does have is pretty much every trick the engineers could think of, from Active Fuel Management and variable valve timing to direct injection. Displacement remains at 6.2 liters, there’s only one cam and there are two valves per cylinder. Horsepower (as of this writing) is estimated at 450, same for the torque, though it could come in somewhat higher by the time production begins. Fuel economy is said to be the best ever for a Corvette, which right now is EPA rated at 26 mpg on the highway.
There have been lots of spy shots, renderings and other glimpses of the next-gen Vette on the Internet for months. One source says some of the computer generated images are pretty close. We don’t know if it will rival the ’63 or ’68 Vettes as far as classic beauty goes, but we’re sure it’ll be a functional, bold sportscar. A GM insider told us it is stunning and will absolutely blow us away.
The ’13 model year is, therefore, the last, for the so-called C6. Introduced in 2005, it has taken the Corvette to levels of performance undreamed of at the height of the swingin’ muscle car ’60s. Our testing has shown that the absolute slowest new Vette you can buy today (an automatic convertible) is quicker in the quarter-mile than any stock big-block Stingray ever made. At the same time, its LS3 sips fuel, spews daisies from its quad tailpipes and generates a top-speed above 185 mph. Remember, that’s just the base engine. Step up to the ZO6 or ZR1 and you can’t even compare the old to the new.
Stylistically, the C6 was obviously an evolutionary design, playing off the cues of the C4 and C5, but it also borrowed from the C3, thus making its body lines crisper and more muscular than either of its two predecessors. When Chevy added the ZO6, ZR1 and Grand Sport bodywork, it got even meaner looking. While it is not as fresh as it used to be and the GM bankruptcy extended its life by a couple of years, I think the ’05-’13 Vette will be recalled as one of the best looking cars of its era.
Inside, the C6 was a good, functional design, if not a terribly exciting one. Some critics decry the use of less-than-optimal materials, but they never really bothered me, and I accept them as the trade-off to keep the price a lot more affordable than its competition. There’s no excuse for its seats, however, which never came close to the g-force potential of the chassis. Hopefully, the C7 will see a big improvement across the board.
Handling was always superb, whether you bought a base model, Z51, later Grand Sport or beyond. These cars could be challenging at the edge, but mostly because their limits were so far beyond those of the average driver. These cars took Corvette handling to a place it had never been before. Brakes, too, were cutting edge—excellent at first, then unequalled thanks to optional carbon ceramic rotors and massive calipers that came on recent editions. Unless things went terribly wrong in engineering, we think the C7 is going to be one of the most capable supercars on the planet, and will be that at a Corvette—not Porsche or Ferrari—price.
|Super Chevy C6 Strip Test Results
|2007 Coupe, LS2/automatic
|2011 GS convertible, LS3/automatic
|2012 Corvette ZR1