The focal point of the gauge cluster is a large eight-inch color LCD reconfigurable display. The prototype we saw featured three display modes: sport, cruise, and track. Not everything is going digital: flanking the screen is an analog speedometer, coolant temp, and fuel gauge all using similar white font and red needles to today's Corvette.
Surrounding the gauge cluster were new materials that Chevrolet is considering. Ranging from carbon fiber weaves and various leathers, to vinyl-like PVC fabric, it's clear Chevy is looking to deliver on the promise of a better quality interior for its next-generation sports car. While better materials are great, we hope fit and finish will also improve.
We want to make sure to note Matthew Fuligni, design manager for user experience at Chevy, made it very clear that the gauge cluster we noticed in the design center is a "design study" and not currently a production unit. If nothing else, it gives us a good idea of the direction the team at Chevy is working in for the next-generation Corvette.
Throughout the day we couldn't help but wonder, if the design team is putting this much effort into just the instrument panel, what kind of technology and materials will end up elsewhere in the next-gen Corvette? The Stingray concept featured a fully capacitive center stack. While we aren't sure that level of technology will be arriving in the C7 Corvette, a gauge cluster this advanced means the Corvette could feature an even more impressive infotainment system--though with the current system dating back to 2006 technology, beating the pants off the current system shouldn't be hard.
This week Cadillac announced its upcoming CUE infotainment system with an eight-inch capacitive touch-screen display and full suite of voice commands. The software looks very impressive and upon first impression almost puts the Ford MyFord Touch system on notice. While this same system won't likely be in the Corvette, at least at initial launch, a similar system leveraging the same technology could be.
Chevrolet has already told us the upcoming Corvette won't be a clean-sheet redesign, but we should expect a significant step forward in all areas. From a new V-8 engine and fresh exterior styling, we expect a nimbler, more advanced sports car to emerge, and in our book that's never a bad thing.
Whatever is coming, we expect it to be impressive; as Ed Welburn said, no one wants to be the guy who messed up the Corvette.