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2011-05-27 07:43

BLACK MAGIC: A host of mechanical engineering features are sure to make the next-generation Corvette’s V8 as sophisticated as its European rivals.

America’s seminal performance car needs to adapt (radically) to survive a world of rampant emissions regulation and ever-lower fuel-consumption standards.

For six decades Chevrolet’s Corvette has managed to combine distinctive styling with antiquated pushrod V8 power in an effort to offer North American buyers performance and dynamics at a price coefficient unmatched by any European rival. 

As Bob Dylan said, "the times are a changing". GM, again producing financial statement with more black than red ink on them, has not been prioritising the C7-generation Corvette. Instead, smaller global cars, and the development of hybrid vehicles (such as the Volt) are where the design resources have been deployed.

Despite the C6 Corvette having been on sale since 2004, GM only plans to introduce the successor model by late 2013 (at the earliest), rendering the quintessential American performance car as a bit of an aged option, especially compared to more contemporary European alternatives.

The replacement promises to be a far more sophisticated car, very much a design revolution (instead of evolution) for the Corvette name. GM has announced it plans to invest the equivalent of R870-million in the Bowling Green plant to support the production of Chevrolet’s next-generation Corvette.

RETAINING V8 HERITAGE

A fundamental issue with regards to the forthcoming C7-series Corvette is its engine design, which has to be (a lot) more fuel and C02 efficient than any Corvette before.

Industry analysts initially expected the new baseline engine to be a 5.5-litre V8, featuring direct-injection instead of the current port-fuel delivery system. The efficiencies gained by sophisticated high-pressure fuel-injection and a 1.5-litre reduction in swept capacity (compared to the current Z06) are not considered optimal though.

An alternative turbocharged V6 engine has been mooted as the solution, though Corvette product specialist feel the nameplate’s traditional customer base would recoil at the notion of a V6 powered Corvette, whereas Camaro buyers are less sensitive to issue of engine configuration.

The latest rumour from Detroit unpacks interesting details concerning the C7 Corvette’s engine. According to information leaked from a source close to the powertrain project, the new engine will (finally) feature overhead camshafts, be dry sump lubricated, slightly larger than 3-litres in capacity, V8 in configuration and deliver in excess of 90kW per litre; totalling a peak power output beyond the crucial 300kW barrier.

Featuring radically reduced engine capacity the new Corvette is expected to be lighter and with its smaller internals (and despite the presence of forced induction), the new V8 is expected to feature a much broader operational engine speed range than any of its predecessors. GM North America’s president, Mark Reuss, says the Corvette brand is looking for new, more youthful customers, who demand greater sophistication and finessed (Eurocentric) dynamics from their choice of two-door performance car.


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