Chevrolet’s worst-kept secret, the mid-engined Corvette, goes viral

The mid-engined, eighth-generation Chevrolet Corvette is the worst-kept secret in Detroit. We haven’t seen it in the metal yet but we know almost everything about it, including the technical problems that have already delayed the car twice, thanks to a growing list of leaks, spy shots, and insider information.

Prototypes spotted in Port Huron, Michigan, by the eagle-eyed Instagram user rhurren505 confirm the model still looks like a Corvette when viewed from the front. The angular design and the swept-back headlights create a visual link between the current-generation Corvette and its successor. The front end is much smaller because designers didn’t need to carve out space for a jumbo V8 engine. This time around, the ‘Vette’s heart will beat directly behind the passenger compartment.

The photos clearly show the Corvette’s proportions will shift dramatically. The space between the passenger compartment and the rear wheels appears much bigger, and if you look closely you’ll spot a gaping air intake that helps keep the engine cool. The back end looks taller, and it’s dominated by air vents through which heat escapes from the engine bay. The coupe exhales via quad square exhaust tips that remind us of the fourth-generation model. Even with the camouflage on, the eighth-generation Corvette looks ready to take on European exotics.

Figuring out what is hidden underneath the body requires examining months of rumors. It will have an engine, this much we can guarantee, and it will likely be an eight-cylinder one. Motor1 believes the most basic engine will be an evolution of the current car’s 6.2-liter V8 tuned to deliver 530 hp. Mid-range models will receive a twin-turbocharged, Cadillac-derived, 4.2-liter V8 with 650 hp on tap. Finally, the flagship Corvette will boast a 5.5-liter V8 twin-turbocharged to a monstrous 850 hp — that’s about 100 horses more than the lineup’s current flagship. Rear-wheel drive and an automatic transmission will come standard, but Chevrolet might keep a seven-speed manual gearbox on the list of options to satisfy the small but vociferous group of enthusiasts who want to shift their own gears.

Credible reports claimed Chevrolet would present the eighth-generation Corvette during the 2019 Detroit auto show, but it wasn’t there. Unverified rumors initially claimed Chevrolet had delayed the model’s unveiling until the summer to fix an electrical problem, and Hagerty learned from what it promises are “well-placed sources” that three separate issues forced the brand to push back the unveiling.

First, the ‘Vette’s electrical infrastructure isn’t ready for production yet, and engineers are still fixing problems as they come up during the testing phase. Second, and more significantly, its chassis isn’t strong enough. Chevrolet tested an engine tuned to develop between 900 and 1,000 horsepower, and its engineers watched in horror as the monstrous amount of horsepower twisted the frame and broke the glass hatch over the engine compartment. Yikes. Third, there is an unspecified problem in the ergonomics department. “It could be a visibility issue, some ergonomic shortcoming, or a cockpit design problem,” Hagerty wrote. Those are big setbacks this late into the development process.

Chevrolet understandably wants to fix these problems before launching the car. It’s now tentatively scheduled to make its debut in August during the Corvette Museum’s 25th birthday bash. Sales will begin for the 2020 model year, and pricing will start under $100,000. Stay tuned, we expect more details about the eighth-generation Chevrolet Corvette will trickle out over the coming months. And, who knows, some of them might actually come directly from the manufacturer.

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