Report: C7 Corvette May Get Small Overhead Cam, Turbo V8
By Chris Haak
TheDetroitBureau.com dropped a few bombshells yesterday about the C7 Corvette, which is scheduled to hit the market in two years. News has been fairly silent on the Corvette front for the past few years, with long periods of no news followed by a rumor here and there. The rumor of a mid-engine C7 comes up (just as there were rumors of a mid-engine C4, C5, and C6), and word leaked out that the debut of GM’s Generation V small-block V8 would occur with the next-generation Corvette. The Gen V small block would displace about 5.5 liters, but would include additional technology such as direct injection to get its output figures similar to today’s 430-horsepower base engine, while moving what is theoretically a smaller, lighter car.
TheDetroitBureau, however, reports on the potential for a far more dramatic departure from the pattern of large V8s, front engines, and rear wheel drive that has marked Corvette evolution since the 1950s. Instead, TDB’s Paul Eisenstein reports that GM has approved multiple engine options for the C7 Corvette, including a “European-style V8 that will be only slightly larger than 3 liters in displacement.” Further, the engine is supposed to feature an OHC valvetrain, get a dry-sump lubrication system, have a very narrow bore, and be turbocharged. Specific output would be in excess of 400 horsepower, but the turbo would allow a flat torque curve, not to mention fuel-economy improvements over the C6’s already-decent figures.
Another interesting nugget is that the small V8 would be quite the revver. The Z06’s 7.0 liter LS7 V8 can stretch its legs to 7,000 RPMs, and the Audi R8 5.2 FSI Spyder that I drove last week can go to 8,500 RPMs. According to the linked artice, though, we’re talking about 10,000 RPMs. That’s race car territory, folks.
Eisenstein also notes that there are plans to continue offering a more traditional large, OHV V8 option for those who adhere to the “no replacement for displacement” philosophy. If true, this is probably where we’d see the Gen V small block make its debut.
Corvette sales have been a shell of their former selves since GM resurrected the Camaro for the 2010 model year. Where GM once sold 30,000 Corvettes in a typical year, the numbers are now down around 10,000 to 12,000 per year (but nearly 100,000 Camaros, too). The upshot is that the company just committed a $131 million investment into the Corvette’s Bowling Green, KY assembly plant to upgrade it in advance of C7 assembly, so it’s clear that even at reduced volumes, the Corvette will continue to live on. Also, Corvette pricing has been steadily creeping upward, particularly for special models like the Z06, ZR1, and even the Grand Sport. The C6 ZR1 has always been a $100,000-plus car, but special editions of the Z06, such as the pictured car above, now feature nearly all of the ZR1’s components other than the fire-breating LS9 supercharged engine. But believe me, 505 horsepower is nothing to scoff at.
It will be fascinating to see not only what GM has in mind for the next Corvette, but how well buyers – particularly those new to the Corvette fold – respond to a car that may be a substantial departure with tradition. In some ways, it’s hard to imagine GM devoting the resources to what would almost certainly be an all-new engine architecture for only low-volume high-performance niche models, but according to Eisenstein, the new engine would also likely find its way into V-series Cadillacs in the future.
At the very least, expect the True Believers at GM to put forth an impressive effort. I’m confident that the C7 will not let us down performance-wise, and also that GM’s bean counters have seen the light, and will no longer allow a $25,000 car’s interior to be installed in a $100,000 performance flagship.