Staying ahead of the pack is no easy feat in the automotive industry, and manufacturers must take risks to remain relevant. When faced with fierce competition and fanbases not too fond of change, even the slightest upgrade or facelift can cause internet trolls to go wild with opinions. Debuting in 1953, the Chevrolet Corvette instantaneously stole the hearts of gearheads, and Chevrolet’s first luxury front-engine performance car quickly became an icon. The C8 Corvette was a risk Chevrolet was willing to take in order to lead the sports car market, and it has paid off big for the General.
We’re eight generations into what is arguably the pinnacle of the American sports car. The C7 Corvette had reached what some consider the peak performance level while utilizing a front-engine design, leading the team at Chevrolet to make the most drastic change ever for the Corvette: repositioning the engine behind the driver. The mid-engine layout of the C8 initially caused Corvette purists to voice their disappointment. However, we are now three years into the production of the C8, and the response from enthusiasts and purists alike has taken a much more positive tone. Sadly, the eighth generation Corvette is seemingly creeping up on the end of its cycle as there are mentions of the C8 ending production sometime in 2025 or 2026. So let’s take a look at the current offerings, with a peak into what the future holds for the Corvette.
Chevrolet Corvette C8 Stingray
July 18th, 2019 marked the turning point of the world-renowned sports car from GM as it was the first to ever have a mid-mounted engine. Behind the driver lay GM’s LT2 V8, producing a whopping 495 horsepower and managing the quarter mile in just 11.2 seconds.
The new design meant that the Corvette now had more weight on the rear wheels allowing for better grip when cornering and upon launch, with a more even weight distribution further improving the handling characteristics. Put simply, the C8 is designed to inspire more confidence at the track when compared to its predecessors.
Chevrolet Corvette C8 Z06
Innovation is a term now synonymous with the Corvette brand, and the Z06 took the term “America’s Ferrari” a little too literally. Based on the engine from the IMSA GTLM winning race car, the Corvette C8.R, the new Z06 features a 670 horsepower naturally-aspirated LT6 with a flat-plane crank – just like you’d find in the mid-engine Ferrari 458. It’s rather tough to call the Z06 a sports car at this point, redlining at 8,600 rpm and reaching 60 mph in just 2.6 seconds, the Z06 can take on supercars costing double the price.
The Z06 puts focuses more on track performance, further emphasized by the vehicle’s sportier exterior. As standard, the Z06 gets wider fenders and quarter panels, a centered quad-exhaust tip setup, and other carbon fiber bits along with a lip spoiler. If you’re more of an extremist, the Z06 can be fitted with the Z07 performance package that includes additional racing-inspired components.
Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray
As lovers of LS and LT engines, the reality of an all-electric future can result in us being rather despondent. It’s important to enjoy the car of today, and who knows, maybe that future is filled with hybrids rather than EVs, giving us the best of both worlds. That’s where the Corvette E-Ray comes in, a car that turns electrification into fun while still providing that glorious 6.2L LT2 sound.
The E-Ray uses the same small block LT2 as found in the C8 Stingray, producing 495 horsepower. Where the E-Ray differs, however, is through its electric drive unit. Mated to the front wheels, the electric drive unit produces 160 horsepower, not only making this the first hybrid Corvette but also the first to have an AWD system. The result: a combined power output of 655 horsepower and a 0-60 mph time of 2.5 seconds – the fastest ever to be achieved by a stock Corvette.
Although not officially announced yet, rumors, leaks, and past trends lead are indicating future Corvette models are on the way. Some rumors explore the possibility of Corvette becoming its own brand apart from Chevrolet, similar to the relationship between General Motors and Cadillac. Here are some Corvette variants we expect to see relatively soon.
Chevrolet Corvette C8 ZR-1
Estimated to release somewhere in 2025, the C8 ZR-1 is expected to take everything we love from the Z06 and turn it up to an 11. The ZR-1 will also take advantage of the Z06’s flat-plane LT6, with the addition of not one, but two turbochargers. We can expect the twin-turbo 5.5-liter engine to make 800-plus horsepower. Although there currently are spy shots of the C8 ZR1 being tested, there are no firm details as to what the exterior will look like. We can expect it to take design cues from the C8.R and Z06 GT3.R race cars. With talk of GM going all-electric by 2035, the C8 ZR1 could possibly be the last ICE-only Corvette ever produced. Only time will tell.
Chevrolet Corvette C8 Zora
Named after chief engineer, Zora Arkus-Duntov, the C8 Zora is expected to take the throne as the most extreme Corvette in the line-up and possibly be the last model in the C8 generation. Exterior-wise, the Zora will likely take inspiration from the ZR-1. In the performance department, there are talks of 1,000 horsepower thanks to the 800-plus horsepower twin-turbo LT6 being assisted by an electric drive system similar to the E-Ray. The hybrid design would make the Zora the second all-wheel drive model in the Corvette lineup. There are no spy shots currently of the Zora, so we are left up to the imaginations of artists and designers.
A monster of a car like the Zora would be a fitting send-off to the current generation of Corvette. It also makes us wonder with excitement what Corvette could come up with for a ninth generation of America’s sports car.