The war for ever-faster, more powerful cars may be drawing to a close. Fuel economy regulations and simple practicality are beginning to make the push for more horsepower unrealistic. Chevrolet's Corvette is a perfect example - the 2009 ZR-1 revealed at the Detroit auto show makes 650hp and tops out at 200mph - and its designers are already eying ways to keep performance levels the same as the current generation while improving fuel efficiency.

The new ZR-1 is an absolute monster, putting out supercar power for sports car prices. Pushing the envelope even further is beginning to seem a bit ridiculous, especially without similar advances in handling. After all, the power output of the Corvette has grown by almost 50% over the last ten years while handling performance has made only incremental increases. Perhaps shifting focus to efficiency - and hence light weight, which contributes to better handling through quicker transitional ability among other things, is overdue.

Though it's hard to argue the fact that less power and less weight might make for livelier handling and a similar power-to-weight ratio, it's a different formula for performance. The executives at Chevrolet are already talking about the redesign due in 2012 - and a serious diet is in store, reports Automotive News. Losing 300-400lbs and 150hp, which is what is currently being considered, would leave a weaker pounds per horsepower ratio. Knocking the Corvette from its current 3200lb, 430hp/505hp (Coupe/Z06) size to a more Cayman-S like 2800-2900lbs and 280-350hp might make for more efficiency, but it'll also make for less fun. Power for the lighter, less powerful Corvette would come from a more efficient 4.7L V8, although exact fuel consumption figures are not known. The outgoing models get around 16mpg city and 26mpg highway.

Is a lighter, less powerful Corvette still a Corvette? Will it be able to deliver the experience its buyers have sought and loved, especially over the past decade? And will moving it to a smaller, less powerful state move it into competition with even less-expensive sports cars like the Honda S2000 or the Nissan 350Z, which both sport similar power-to-weight ratios to the postulated Corvette Coupe? Only time will tell, but it's hard to feel excited about the move to 'greener' pastures.