Vette News - Mid-Engine Spied

Is It The Zora?

It looks like all the rumors are about to prove true: a very early test mule for what appears to be a large mid-engined car has been spotted testing near a General Motors Company facility in the U.S.

Several images posted on Car and Driver show the test mule whose body has been composed from several vehicles, including a Holden Commodore Ute for the front and rear sections and what looks like the current C7 Corvette's mid-section. Of course, hidden behind the two-seat cabin is likely to be a V-8 powerplant.

The test mule's sighting comes just months after new rumors emerged suggesting that the next-generation Corvette, the C8, would be moving to a mid-engine platform. But while the C8 isn't due until the end of the decade, a car riding on its platform may appear much sooner than that.

Test-mule for mid-engined Chevrolet Corvette spy shots - Image via Car and Driver.

We're talking about a successor for the Corvette ZR1, which reports suggest may be launched as early as the 2017 model year and sport a price tag of around $150,000. This means that while it's technically a C8, the ZR1 successor will be sold alongside the current C7 Corvette for its first years on the market. Eventually, the C7 Corvette will be replaced by the new C8 Corvette, with all the variants being based on the mid-engine platform. Yes, even the base 'Vette.

The reason for the platform's quick gestation is because GM reportedly started working on a mid-engine Corvette prior to its bankruptcy in 2009, and current Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter is said to be one of the key people involved in the original project. We also hear that the basis for the new platform will be the C7 Corvette's aluminum spaceframe structure rather than a completely all-new design.

But why rock the boat with such a dramatic change to the Corvette formula? Apparently the front engine, rear-wheel-drive layout is reaching its limits in cars like the 2015 Corvette Z06. Also, the Alpha-based 2016 Camaro may end up lighter than the C7 Corvette, giving it the performance edge over its bigger brother. Thus, to help separate future Corvettes from the Camaro, including the ZR1 successor, a more exotic design was required. This change will also help the C8 Corvette become a semi-exotic halo model for Chevrolet worldwide, a bit like the NSX for Acura/Honda and the R8 for Audi.

A small-block V-8 is expected to remain the powertrain of choice for the ZR1 successor-it's an exotic but not that kind of exotic-and there's a strong possibility it will come with a single transmission: a seven-speed dual-clutch. By the time regular C8 Corvettes arrive, however, a manual transmission should also be available. We could also see the ZR1 successor adopt hybrid technology to ensure it can keep up in the technology stakes against its German and Japanese rivals.

Finally, the Zora name may feature in the car's full title. The usage would serve as a tribute to Corvette father Zora Arkus-Duntov, a huge fan of the mid-engine layout, and we know GM recently trademarked it.

Source: Viknesh Vijayenthiran, Motor Authority

Submitted by Phil Ellison