2014 Chevrolet Corvette LT-1 V-8 engine

© General Motors

The Athletic Training

You've already seen how the rumor mill can build a lot of buzz for an upcoming model, and as the street date draws near, the truth becomes clearer. With about a year to go, we're getting a better picture of the 2014 Corvette.

Rumors that are unlikely to come to pass? Some kind of forced-induction engine (boosted with a turbo or supercharger), all-wheel-drive and reincarnation of the Stingray moniker. That's, in part, wishful thinking of the auto media and its readers. Of course, Chevy's added some fuel to the fire, in the form of an interview in which the head of GM North America, Mark Reuss, has said the C7 will be "completely different" [source: Weiss].

So what do we think we know? The C7 is expected to have a better power-to-weight ratio, thanks to some serious trimming of body mass. Carbon fiber, a strong but lightweight material, is likely to help with this goal. It's common for car manufacturers to reserve such expensive touches to distinguish high-end models from base models, but experts suspect that all C7s will be graced with carbon fiber's distinctive look [source: Car and Driver].

The C7 might feature a new 7-speed manual transmission, but there's little corroboration to confirm this rumor ... and, along the same lines, there also might be an eight-speed auto trans option. There was early suspicion that the car would be redesigned to accommodate a mid-engine drivetrain, but spy photos show this won't be the case. So, for now, it's keeping the familiar front-engine layout, and, like the Camaro, it will stay rear-wheel-drive.

Which leads us, finally, to the engine options. The GM V-8 engines are built in five domestic factories, which, in the past couple of years, have benefitted from about a billion dollars' worth of upgrades. But even though the brighter, cleaner factories are reported to improve productivity and reliability, the engines themselves haven't really changed all that much. The C7 will get its characteristic small-block V-8 engine, which is likely to be downsized from the current 6.2 liters to a 5.5 or a 6.0. (Most sources say the block is likely to be a 5.5-liter, but a few have also suggested a 6.0 is possible.) The engine features Active Fuel Management Technology (cylinder shutdown to improve economy). It's been designed for direct injection and tuned for higher compression, though, which will allow it to keep pace with the current car's 430-horsepower output while featuring improved fuel efficiency. And this is just for the base model -- the higher-end options (currently designated the Z06 and ZR1) are likely to get big-block V-8s.

The engine configurations are currently shared with the Chevy Camaro, as well as the Cadillac and GMC truck families -- an arrangement that's likely to stay in place. A lot of the Corvette's shared mechanicals will also be adapted for the forthcoming Chevrolet SS sedan.

Just to demonstrate (again) our earlier point that buzz is essential? There's already speculation about model refreshes. Rumor has it that a new version of the LT4 drivetrain (currently available in some Camaros) will be available as an option in the 2015 model year. That would boost the C7 'Vette to mid-500-horsepower before it even has a chance to get old [source: Slu].