How the C7 Corvette Works


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2014 Chevrolet Corvette LT-1 V-8 engine
2014 Chevrolet Corvette LT-1 V-8 engine

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].

Author's Note: How the C7 Corvette Works

When the new Chevrolet Corvette actually hits showroom floors and the hype starts to calm down, something else will come along to take its place. It has to. That's how the automotive industry keeps churning along. And that's how the peripheral industries, like the automotive media, find a way to exist at all.

For a few precious years, I spent a lot of time around auto media types -- and when they weren't gossiping and infighting and backstabbing, they occasionally talked about cars. Some writers and editors were genuinely excited about the opportunity to drive a hot new model before the general population; others were either too burned out to care, or trying too hard to look badass. It happens.

But automotive media got hit hard by an ill-timed double whammy -- the decline of print journalism was under way as the domestic car industry faced its near collapse. There are still a handful of print magazines, and there are more blogs than ever. Considering how frequently bloggers have to post to stay on top of their readers' news feeds, it's clear that they really need the news cycles generated by new model release updates and rumors. Another group to consider is the spy photographers -- the shutterbugs who camp out in the well-known car testing haunts (often in the desert) hoping to score some clear shots of test mules doing their thing. Those photos are quickly sold and immediately end up splashed across blogs, setting off a whole new round of discussion.

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Sources

  • Car and Driver. "2013 Chevrolet Corvette (C7)." April 2011. (Oct. 4, 2012) http://www.caranddriver.com/features/2013-chevrolet-corvette-c7-feature
  • Car and Driver. "2014 Chevrolet Corvette C7 Spy Photos." Sept. 24, 2012. (Oct. 4, 2012) http://www.caranddriver.com/news/2014-chevrolet-corvette-c7-spy-photos-future-cars
  • General Motors. "Chevrolet Announces New SS Performance Sedan." May 17, 2012. (Oct. 10, 2012) https://media.gm.com/media/us/en/gm/news.detail.html/content/Pages/news/us/en/2012/May/0517_chevyss.html
  • Ireson, Nelson. "2014 Corvette Production Prep Beginning at Bowling Green Plant." Motor Authority. Aug. 22, 2012. (Oct. 8, 2012) http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1078665_2014-corvette-production-prep-beginning-at-bowling-green-plant
  • Johnson, Drew. "2014 Chevrolet Corvette C7 [Spied]." Left Lane News. Sept. 19, 2012. (Oct. 4, 2012) http://www.leftlanenews.com/chevrolet-corvette-c7.html
  • Kranz, Rick. "The challenge of a 'Vette redesign: Don't screw it up." Automotive News. Sept. 13, 2011. (Oct. 11, 2012) http://www.autonews.com/article/20110913/BLOG06/110919919/1172
  • Sanchez, Karla. "UPDATED: 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Rendered, C7 Interior Spotted." Motor Trend. (Oct. 4, 2012) http://wot.motortrend.com/2014-chevrolet-corvette-rendered-c7-interior-spotted-263305.html
  • Slu, Jason. "2014 Corvette C7 Details Leaked, LT4 Coming in 2015." Sept. 23, 2012. (Oct. 4, 2012) http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2012/09/2014-corvette-c7-details-leaked-lt4-coming-in-2015.html
  • Weiss, Chris. "Welburn on C7 Corvette: Don't Be That Guy." Motor Authority. Sept. 22, 2011. (Oct. 10, 2012) http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1066440_welburn-on-c7-corvette-dont-be-that-guy

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