Hennesseey Won’t Be Able to Tune the 2020 Chevy C8 Corvette - Here’s Why
Let’s face it, though. The aftermarket tuning scene will find a way; it always does.by Kirby, on
The new, mid-engine 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 is debuting in next month, and it could debut with a uniquely encrypted ECU system that effectively makes it untunable. There are a lot of things we still don’t know about the mid-engine supercar, but if there’s truth to the rumors that the Corvette C8 possesses a more sophisticated engine control unit, it could make it unlikely, maybe even impossible, for aftermarket tuning companies to coax more power out of the supercar’s V-8 engine. The 2020 mid-engine 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 debuts on July 18 in California.
The 2020 Chevy C8 Corvette Will Have an Encrypted ECU
How’s this for a monkey wrench? The Chevrolet Corvette has always been one of the most sought after performance cars in the aftermarket world, but this bit of news is a huge blow to a tuning scene that has probably been waiting years to get its hands on the mid-engine hybrid supercar. If it’s true that the ECU unit of the Corvette C8’s V-8 engine is parading a “disturb at your own risk” banner, it throws all those tuning plans out the window, at least for the time being. But before we talk about the potential repercussions, it’s better to set the table first and talk about why an engine’s ECU unit is so important.
In so many word’s, the engine control unit is the brain of the car. It’s the part of the engine that decides how much fuel and air to mix and how much is squirted into the engine to ignite it. The ECU accomplishes this by shuffling through tons of data that are stored in its memory bank and determining the best course of action available to it any given point. In most cars, the ECU can be modified because automakers typically don’t max out the engine’s performance to its full capabilities. Doing so would mean the engine would rely heavily on its power and performance capabilities at the expense of handling and fuel efficiency. But performance cars are called as such for a reason, and when it comes to the ECU of these vehicles, aftermarket tuners are often quick to work on remapping or tuning the ECU units to coax more power out of the engine.
This is relevant to the upcoming 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 because of what kind of car it is. We know that it’s a performance car, but we still don’t know how what kind of powertrain setup it’ll have and how much power that setup can produce. Since it’s built for power and speed, aftermarket tuners will inevitably try to see if there’s more power than what Chevrolet will make available. The best way to do that is to tune the ECU unit. But what happens if the ECU unit can’t be tinkered with? In the case of the Corvette C8, there’s a chance, according to Muscle Cars and Trucks, of bricking the entire engine, effectively turning the Corvette C8 into the world’s most expensive paperweight.
To be clear, we still don’t know if the C8’s engine is untunable.
But it doesn’t look promising, in part because the hybrid machine will be equipped with a unique and encrypted ECU that makes it impossible to pursue the necessary modifications to increase its output.
Tuners can still try to do it, but if a foreign code is entered into the ECU’s software, the program fails completely, and the ECU enters a “recovery mode.” Now, there are ways out of this. The ECU, for example, can be reprogrammed to restore its previous settings, similar to what we do with our smartphones and laptops. Given the complicated setup of the Corvette C8’s powertrain — it’s the first mid-engine Corvette in history, and it’s a hybrid — reprogramming its ECU unit is far easier said than done. If you don’t have the means or the expertise to reprogram the Corvette C8’s ECU back to its original setting, then you’re out of luck. You might as well just display the hybrid beast in your den if there’s space for it there.
You’re probably wondering why Chevrolet would take strict cybersecurity measures to make sure that the Corvette C8’s ECU unit is untunable. It’s a fair question, especially when you consider the legacy of the Corvette as one of the most popular cars in the aftermarket tuning scene. Wouldn’t a Corvette C8 that’s untunable run counter to the spirit and legacy of the Corvette name?
Well, that’s a yes and a no.
I understand the frustration of not being able to maximize the Corvette C8’s full power and performance. Just thinking about it stinks. But it also makes sense, at least if you look at it from Chevrolet’s perspective
. For all intents and purposes, the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 is unlike any Corvette model that’s come before or it.
We know that it will be a mid-engine performance car, the first of its kind for the Corvette name. We also know that Chevrolet’s rolling out a handful of versions, as it has done with previous-generation models. Though unconfirmed, it’s been rumored that the base version — the Corvette C8 Z06 — will be powered by a 5.5-liter V-8 engine that produces more than 600 horsepower. There will also be a Corvette C8 Z06 with a 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine that produces in excess of 755 horsepower. We’re familiar with the nomenclature and their respective place in the Corvette hierarchy. But there’s also another model that’s expected to arrive: the Corvette C8 Zora.
Unlike the Z06 and the ZR1, the Corvette C8 Zora will feature a twin-turbocharged V-8 engine, possibly the same engine that will power the ZR1, and an electric motor at the front axle.
Yes, the range-topping model of the Corvette C8 lineup is a hybrid supercar that produces close to 1,000 horsepower.
This is new territory for a model like the Corvette, and, if you’re Chevrolet, you’d want the range-topping, hybrid Corvette C8 to sit as the undisputed king of this lineup. What’s one way to ensure that stays the same? Keep the lower-spec versions from receiving huge power and performance upgrades from the aftermarket tuning scene. This is pure conjecture and speculation, but it does make sense. Chevrolet should want the Corvette C8 to stand out on its own and blow away the entire auto industry on its own, and it needs to keep that status quo in place for as long as it can.
Obviously, there’s really no such thing as an untunable ECU unit. Aftermarket companies built their success and reputation on being able to work around these perceived red tapes to find a weakness in the system. There will be trials, and there will be errors. Lots of both, most likely. We might even see a few bricked Corvette C8 end up as casualties of the cause. But at some point, aftermarket tuning companies will find a way to extract more power out of the Corvette C8s. That’s just the way the business works.
For now, though, Chevrolet can revel in what it has developed and created.
The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 is scheduled to debut on July 18 in Orange County, California.
It’s going to be a historic event, not just for Chevrolet, but, more importantly, for the Corvette nameplate. After years of rumors surrounding a mid-engine Corvette, we’re finally going to see it in the flesh in a month’s time. We can worry about what the aftermarket tuning industry can do with it for another time. What’s important now is waiting for it to arrive.
We’ve waited long enough for the mid-engine Corvette. Now, our wait is over, or it will be really soon.
Read our speculative review of the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Zora ZR1
Read our full review of the 2019 Chevy Corvette ZR1
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Check out our review of the 1963-1968 Chevy C2 Corvette
Read our in-depth review of the 1969 Chevy Corvette 427 C3
Read up on our review of the 1997-2004 Chevy C5 Corvette
Read up on the 2005-2013 Chevy C6 Corvette
Check out our full review of the 2014-2019 Chevy C7 Corvette
Source: Muscle Cars and Trucks