It feels like only yesterday that the innovative new design of the mid-engine Corvette was all the rage and what everyone was talking about. The mid-engine eight-generation Corvette Stingray (also known as the C8) launched for the 2020 model year all the way back in 2019 – also known as “back when the world seemed so simple.” These days, it’s not exactly old news, but it’s not exactly new news either, now is it? So what does the future hold for the Corvette?
At the moment, there are rumors of at least five different future Corvette models and designs being talked about by car enthusiasts. Some of these are essentially guaranteed at this point, and we’re just waiting on an official announcement and unveiling to learn all of the final specs. Others are a bit further out, and there are a lot of details that are still unknown, but it’s a safe bet that everything I’m about to go over really is coming and should be available in the next few years. Let’s take a look at what’s next for the ‘Vette as America’s sports car continues to tear up the road in the not-too-distant future.
The Corvette Z06
The first big update that’s coming for the Corvette is the Z06, which is one of two major performance boosts for this already impressive piece of machinery. We’ve known a Z06 version of the C8 was coming for quite a while now – essentially since the C8 was announced, if not even before. So it’s no surprise that this will be the first one we get a chance to see and drive – it should be available by the end of this year as a 2023 model, and Chevy is officially going to debut this beast on October 26th.
While we don’t have all the specs on it yet, I’ve heard that it will feature a naturally-aspirated 5.5L flat-plane-crank V8 engine. I’ve seen a few different estimates for the kind of power it’ll have, but with its rumored 9000 rpm redline, it should put out somewhere just over 600 hp with nearly 500 lb-ft of torque. By comparison, the C8 Stingray can only get up to 495 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque with the available Performance exhaust. So while that’s not a huge boost in torque, it’s a significant increase in horsepower, and driving this beast will be a lot of fun.
The Corvette ZR1
Of course, if the amped-up power of the Z06 isn’t enough for you, then you’ll just have to wait for the ZR1 that’s on the horizon. Unfortunately for you, the wait for the ZR1 is going to be quite a bit longer – I don’t expect this ‘Vette variant until the 2025 model year. We’ll probably not hear anything official about it until late next year, at best, so I hope you’re patient.
That being said, the early rumors going around are that it will have the same 5.5L flat-plane-crank V8 engine as the Z06, but with a pair of turbochargers slapped onto it to boost performance. Early estimates say that could push it up to more than 800 hp and a massive amount of torque, which is nearly double the current Corvette Stingray’s output. This beauty is probably going to start at around $150,000, however, so don’t expect to see too many of them in your neighbors’ driveways.
The Corvette E-Ray
The other big Corvette announcement that a lot of people are expecting to be announced next year will be a hybrid model (there are likely two hybrids in the works, but I’ll get to the other one further down). I find it funny that ten years ago, the very notion of a hybrid Corvette would’ve been downright laughable, but now it seems like the next logical step. While there was a lot of mystery surrounding this model, the veil of secrecy has lifted, and we now have a pretty good idea of what it will look like.
Because of the shift to a mid-engine design for the C8 Corvette, a hybrid actually makes a lot of sense. The rumors are that an electric motor will be located on the front axle, with the standard 6.2L V8 engine from the Stingray in the rear, effectively creating the first all-wheel drive Corvette. This model will be known as the “E-Ray” and will replace the Grand Sport, filling the gap between the base Stingray and the track-oriented Z06. Interestingly, the E-Ray should offer similar performance and feel to the Acura NSX at a noticeably lower cost, becoming the entry-level hybrid supercar to beat.
The Corvette Project R
The model I’m probably most excited about is the rumored development of an all-electric Corvette. There was a lot of confusion about the E-Ray possibly being a full EV, but now rumors are pointing towards something known only as “Project R.” While a Corvette EV may sound sacrilegious to some, I think it just makes sense and would drum up a lot of hype. GM has committed to being emissions-free by 2035, so the Corvette and every other model will have to be an EV by then. We probably won’t have to wait quite that long to see Project R unveiled, but I don’t expect to see this model before 2025.
There’s a good bet that the development of the E-Ray is effectively a test run at making a fully electric Corvette. So the motors we see in the hybrid may be used again in the EV model. Beyond that, essentially nothing is known about what the Corvette EV will have going on. In fact, it may be a different vehicle entirely. While I don’t believe the rumors that Chevy is going to copy Ford and turn the Corvette into an SUV, a world-class EV requires a substantially different design than a gasoline vehicle, so be prepared for something radical from Project R.
The Corvette Zora
If all you’re interested in is speed and raw power in your sports car, then this is the model that you need to be keeping an eye out for. The rumored Corvette Zora is the other hybrid that I promised we’d get to, but this model isn’t about just pushing horsepower up a bit with an electric motor – oh no, this is a hybrid designed for hypercar levels of performance. Named after legendary engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov, who made the Corvette the performance powerhouse it is and who championed the idea of a mid-engine model for years, the Zora is going to be something incredibly powerful.
The idea here is that the Zora will feature the incredible turbocharged flat-plane-crank engine of the ZR1, paired with front-end electric motors to provide over 1,000 horsepower! Yes, that’s right, a mid-engine all-wheel-drive Corvette blasting out more than 1,000 horses with instantaneous torque from the hybrid design to create a driving experience that, well, words really can’t describe. This one’s quite a few years away, and it will probably cost close to the quarter-million-dollar mark, but the Zora will be something truly special.
The Future Looks Bright
As you can see, there’s a lot on the horizon for the Chevy Corvette, even after the innovation of the already remarkable C8 model. This is one of those things that GM really does right – they never rest on their laurels or stop to say, “That’s good enough.” There is always more development going on, pushing the boundaries further and creating exciting new vehicles that continue to inspire drivers year after year. I know there are plenty of auto companies that are always innovating, but it’s something I see from GM every year, and it’s always a delight to watch. The push toward more EV models will really herald an impressive new era for the auto industry, and things like a Corvette EV are just one part of that. Personally, I can’t wait.