With the current ZR-1 supercar already priced above $100,000, the question remains whether General Motors should push the Corvette into the upper echelon of the performance market or allow it to remain somewhat affordable to the average Joe--at least in base spec. Rumors of the Corvette getting a more exotic mid-engine platform are rife, but according to GM there is no mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette planned.
That’s the word from GM's top global engineer, Karl-Friedrich Stracke, who flat out stated during an interview with AutoWeek that news of a mid-engine Corvette was “wrong.” Sadly, there are also no plans for a wet dual-clutch transmission in the Corvette either.
Talk of a possible mid-engine layout first surfaced when former GM vice chairman Bob Lutz suggested the idea as a way to--believe it or not--help improve the car’s fuel consumption. The design would enable engineers to install GM’s line of fuel-saving cylinder-deactivation LS3 V8s in the car, and thus help it survive in a world of 35.5 mpg CAFE standards. The current set-up with the engine up front makes it difficult to deactivate cylinders as it would require an additional clutch to deactivate the driveshaft between the engine and rear mounted transaxle.
News of the mid-engine Corvette then flared up again following reports last week that GM had studied the concept with Saab, which was enlisted to develop a dual clutch transmission for a mid-engine version of the Corvette.
Unfortunately, the financial crisis and GM’s own bankruptcy issues meant developing an entirely new platform is simply too risky for the automaker in its current financial state. Another reason for the demise of the mid-engine concept for the Corvette is once again the issue of fuel economy--the extra weight of the heavier rear cowl would offset any fuel savings a smaller engine may bring.
Additionally, Stracke also revealed that there were no plans for a V-6 powered Corvette, turbocharged or not, though he thought that the idea of a hybrid option was “interesting.” He mentioned Porsche’s plans to add hybrid technology to more of its sports cars and explained that it may be a necessary move to cope with toughening fuel economy standards.
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