FIRST LOOK: 2013 NAIAS STARS
The all-new Corvette features the most extensive number of changes ever since the first model was launched over 50 years ago.
Dubbed C7 in its seventh generation and currently hogging the limelight at the 2013 North American International Auto Show, the legendary American supercar is boasting a raft of improvements which its maker says should place it above all of its comparable rivals from the European camp in performance terms.
The front-engine, rear-drive C7 still sticks to an old-fashioned overhead valve V8 now displacing 6.2 litres but sees new technologies to improve performance and economy at the same time.
Already available in several sports car brands, technical features supplementing the C7's 450hp/610Nm naturally aspirated powerhouse include direct-injection, continuously variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation.
The 450hp 6.2-litre V8 gets direct-injection.
The ability to run on just four cylinders under light throttle is tantamount to the 11kpl economy rating General Motors is talking about.
But the real headline for car enthusiasts is the preliminary 0-100kph acceleration time GM is quoting: within 4sec, which makes it quicker than similarly powered competitors like the Aston Martin Vantage V8, Audi R8 4.2 V8, BMW M3 and the Porsche 911 Carrera S.
The C7's performance edge over its opponents is attributed to the use of lightweight materials in the car's body construction which includes carbonfibre bonnet and roof (which can be removed Targa-style) to ideally spread weight evenly 50:50 between the front and rear.
No weight figures for the C7 have been disclosed, but GM says the use of an aluminium body frame has made it 57% stiffer and 45kg lighter than a steel counterpart. The outgoing C6 tipped the scales at some 1,400kg.
There will be two transmissions to choose from when sales start in the third quarter of this year: a seven-speed manual with rev-matching features to ensure minimal loss of performance when shifting gears.
Fans wanting an automatic may be in for disappointment because the C7's only alternative is a normal six-speed with paddle-shift. A seven-speed dual-clutch auto is already widely available in the C7's competition.
To make the C7 as relevant as possible for real-world driving, there's a five-mode driving setup for the driver to choose from. Adaptive dampers, stability and traction control are standard.
Interior is claimed to use higher grade materials.
Clients needing a more track-like experience can opt for the Z51 Performance Package which sees electronic limited-slip differential, rear spoiler, beefier shock absorbers and an inch larger wheels (19 up front and 20 at the rear) than those offered in the standard C7, called Stingray.
GM is bragging a lateral acceleration of 1g for the new Corvette whose mechanical grip is courtesy of all-round double wishbone suspension.
In a bid to quell criticism of a low rent interior found in the preceding C6, GM is throwing lavish materials into the C7's cockpit including aluminium, carbonfibre and black leather.
The steering wheel is now smaller in size, which GM says benefits in directness terms. Multi-function display and 10-speaker audio system are also available.
There's no word on pricing yet, but pundits expect the C7 to cost in the region of 10 million baht in Thailand.
Unofficial imports in the Thai grey market are likely but, as ever, only in left-hand-drive form.
"Its area is restricted to outsiders," one GM source quipped to Life, explaining that only a limited number of US-based engineers are privy to the C7's research and development programme and that no feedback comes from other markets outside America.
Apart from this basic 450hp C7, GM is planning a go-faster version in the guise of ZR1 later in the product's lifecycle. It would be interesting to see whether the ZR1 can gun for the Nissan GT-R, which has a 530hp 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6, 3.0sec acceleration time and unbeatable value at between 9-10 million baht.
With measurements of 4,495mm length, 1,877mm width, 1,235mm height and 2,710mm wheelbase, the C7 sits roughly between the mid-engine R8 and front-engine GT-R in size.
C7 has a dramatically styled rear end.
About the author
- Writer: Richard Leu
Position: Motoring news Editor