GM reportedly working on mid-engined Vette with turbo power

Since Zora Arkus Duntov joined the Corvette team and crammed a V-8 into America’s sports car in 1955, the Belgian-born engineer chased ever more interesting and dynamic ways of making the little two-door go faster than anything else on the road. Zora was obsessed with speed and performance. Aside from setting a production car record up Pikes Peak in a Corvette, taking a standing-mile record at Daytona and starting the Grand Sport racing program, Zora consistently worked on mid-engined prototypes of Corvettes during his career. Despite having a mid-engined prototype of some form for almost every generation of the Corvette, there has never been a production car wearing the legendary Crossed Flags and carrying the engine behind the driver. That all looks to change soon with the rumored Corvette Zora ZR1.

This new car is rumored to use the Zora name to make it a separate model from the current Corvette family, and when it debuts, it will be unveiled as an eighth-generation (C8) car. To create this new and exciting performance machine, Corvette engineers are expected to modify the current C7’s aluminum chassis for mid-ship duty, and then they should fit the car with an uprated version of the supercharged V-8 found in the new Corvette Z06. The new Zora is expected to carry a price of more than $150k, horsepower ratings in excess of 700 ponies and a top speed well above 200 mph. General Motors is no longer building a bargain performance monster. The new Zora will be a purebred supercar; full stop. Ferrari and Lamborghini, you have been put on notice.

Continue reading to learn more about the Chevrolet Corvette Zora.

Exterior

2014 - 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray High Resolution Exterior
- image 488982
2019 Chevrolet Corvette Zora ZR1 Exterior Spyshots
- image 725377
Chevrolet Corvette C7 Chevrolet Corvette Zora ZR1
The new Zora ZR1 is expected to be an evolution of the C7 design, but with a dramatic twist

The new Zora ZR1 is expected to be an evolution of the C7 design, but with a dramatic twist. A mid-engine car is definitely startling enough to cause most Vette owners to stroke out, but GM doesn’t need to push things with a radical design. To create our exclusive rendering, we have moved the cockpit forward just slightly and lowered the roof. Just like we’ve seen in the numerous spy shots we received as of August 2017.

The nose features that same general pointed shape and tapered edges that are familiar to current owners, but more aggressive cooling ducts, a wider track and a large front splitter add tangible performance benefits. The nose does sit slightly lower allowing for greater forward visibility, but the drop in height is minimal to maintain greater suspension travel.

2014 - 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray High Resolution Exterior
- image 488981
2019 Chevrolet Corvette Zora ZR1 Exterior Spyshots
- image 725378
Chevrolet Corvette C7 Chevrolet Corvette Zora ZR1
The rear is both the most similar and most strikingly different angle of the new Zora

The profile shows a rear cut in the nose that is reminiscent of both the LaFerrari and Porsche 918. This should cause lower pressure in the nose and force air through the ducting more efficiently. Directly in front of the door is the signature sculpting found on current cars, complete with a Stingray logo elegantly integrated into the design. This isn’t visible on the camouflaged prototype, but logic dictates that the Zora will have such a feature.

The rear is both the most similar and most strikingly different angle of the new Zora. The same silhouette is used, along with very similar lighting elements, but a wider track, aggressively ducted fenders and rear bumper, massive rear diffuser and small dual spoilers over each rear fender immediately separate this visually from any standard Corvette. The Corvette’s trademark, center-mounted, quad exhaust has been updated to four individual units that look like chrome cannons jutting from their integrated position in the rear bumper.

2019 Chevrolet Corvette Zora ZR1 Exterior Spyshots
- image 725316
While the test car doesn't feature a rear wing, the production model could get one

While the test car doesn’t feature a rear wing, the production model could get one. Or maybe this car will use a retractable element that sits flush with the deck lid when not in use. There’s also the possibility that Chevy will offer two versions of the Zora: a more road friendly variant with milder aerodynamics and a track-prepped model with hardcore wings, bumpers, and the like.

But no matter the configuration, the body will be made of lightweight materials. Word has it that GM will combine carbon-fiber with sheet molding compound (SMC). The latter is a ready to mold glass-fibre reinforced polyester material that’s light, affordable, and easy to produce.

Some sources also claim that the Zora will be available with three different roof options. There will be the traditional fixed coupe model, a targa version with one or two removable panels, and a coupe with a full glass roof.

Interior

2014 - 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray High Resolution Interior
- image 488986

Note: Chevrolet Corvette C7 interior shown here.

Expect several yards of leather, carbon-fiber and Alcantara to fill the cabin.

By separating the Zora from the Corvette in performance, target market and price, the interior design team should have free reign to make things far more luxurious. Expect several yards of leather, carbon-fiber and Alcantara to fill the cabin. High-end technology including multiple large LCD screens and LED lighting will give the cabin the same air of quality as anything the Germans and Italians can manage. Seats are much improved for the new C7 Corvette, but expect the Zora to improve things further.

Sports seats should be standard, but Chevy will probably also offer a pair carbon-fiber, race-spec seats as an option for those who want to spend their weekends at the track. An aggressively styled, squared steering wheel like that found in many Ferrari and Lamborhgini models would seem like an obvious addition as well. On top of that, expect the Zora ZR1 to come with a massive amount of track-ready technology, including cameras and sensors that monitor performance.

Drivetrain

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 538122

Note: Current Chevrolet Corvette Z06 engine pictured here

The new V-8 will crank out around 700 horsepower and nearly 700 pound-feet of twist.

With 650 horsepower coming from its supercharged V-8, the current Z06 is already the most powerful production car General Motors has ever released. If the company wants its new supercar to carry the halo of the Chevrolet name, it will need to increase power even further. The Zora ZR1 will reportedly make use of a new V-8 engine fitted with twin-turbo technology. Word has it this unit will be launched as the LT5 and will crank out around 700 horsepower and nearly 700 pound-feet of twist. Any more power and the Zora will run into traction issues.

The car should bow as a RWD model only, but there is talk of a potential hybrid versions that uses electric motors in the nose to create an AWD setup similar to supercars like the Porsche 918 Spyder. If this comes to fruition, the electric model likely won’t debut until the mid-cycle refresh. The underpinnings of the Zora ZR1 will consist of a heavily modified version of the current Corvette platform. Considering Chevrolet was able to create a convertible version of the Z06 without adding additional bracing and strengthening, the bones should have no problem handling the stresses of a mid-engine small block with forced induction.

Transmission choices will very likely mimic the Z06 with a seven-speed manual or eight-speed automatic. However, both gearboxes will be specifically tuned for this model. Performance targets for the Zora ZR1 should see the 0-to-60 sprint dispatched in 2.8 seconds or less with a top speed in the range of 215 to 220 mph.

Price

2019 Chevrolet Corvette Zora ZR1 Exterior Spyshots
- image 725323

General Motors may be giving the Corvette team free reign to build a world-beating supercar, but the value proposition of the Corvette brand will still remain. The rumored price target for the Zora is in the $150,000 range. This makes it significantly cheaper than almost all of the competition. The only mid-engined car that can be had for that type of cash is an Audi R8. The Lamborghini Huracán and Ferrari 488 GTB carry prices nearly double than that expected for the Zora.

A Future in Racing

With Ford having launched a new GT for its return to Le Mans, a Zora ZR1 can give General motors a platform to contest a win in the world’s most famous endurance race: the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Corvette racing team has already seen incredible success in the lower divisions of the endurance racing ladder, and General Motors may be looking to build on that momentum with this new Zora. Can you imagine seeing a modern Ford GT and a new Chevy Zora battling wheel to wheel down the Mulsanne straight?

Competitors

Ferrari 488 GTB

2016 Ferrari 488 GTB
- image 639500
2016 Ferrari 488 GTB High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 620087

If GM jumps into the land of mid-engined cars, the first real competitor it needs to stand up against is the Ferrari 488 GTB. The current Z06 can already do a decent job of matching the 488 for speed and performance, but the lighter, more powerful 488 Scuderia will be a different beast. With a mid-engined architecture and lighter weight, the Zora ZR1 may have what it takes to dethrone the Prancing Horse. The 488 GTB wades into battle with a turbocharged, 3.9-liter V-8 that makes 660 horsepower. The Scuderia will likely develop around 700 horses. Thanks to a diet heavy in carbon, the Scuderia will only need to move around 3,000 pounds. That is almost 500 pounds less than the Z06 weighs. The Zora will need to shed some serious pounds or arrive with more than 700 horsepower if it hopes to even have a chance against this Italian.

Read our reviews of the Ferrari 488 GTB and upcoming 488 Scuderia.

Audi R8

2017 - 2018 Audi R8 High Resolution Exterior
- image 619645
2017 - 2018 Audi R8 High Resolution Exterior
- image 619643

If GM doesn’t chase the all-out performance crown of the Ferrari, it may try to become the new defacto “usable” supercar. That title is currently held by the mighty, Lamborghini-powered Audi R8. With a more upright seating position combined with the traditional precision and quality, the German brand has created a car that is capable of warping your mind with speed, while coddling you with the latest comfort and convenience technologies simultaneously. The Audi also has a trick up its sleeve by being one of the only mid-engines supercars that can be ordered with a proper, three-pedal manual. I, for one, would love to see more cars play in the “manual-equipped supercar” game. Another one of the Audi’s strengths is that it is one of the cheapest mid-engined supercars you can buy with a sticker set at $164,900. Chevrolet will need to be very careful with how it prices the new Zora against this 610-horsepower beast.

Read our full review of the Audi R8.

Lamborghini Huracan

2015 - 2016 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4 Exterior AutoShow
- image 544676
2015 - 2016 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4 High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
- image 544684

Introduced to replace the already iconic Gallardo back in 2014, the Huracan is on its way to becoming the most popular modern Lambo. And it’s not surprising because this supercar has it all. It’s aggressive to look at, it has a sporty, luxurious interior, it’s amazingly fast, and it’s prepped for a weekend at the race track. Under the hood, it comes with a 5.2-liter V-10 engine rated at 602 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. Charging to 60 mph takes 3.3 seconds, while 124 mph comes in around 10.2 clicks. Top speed is rated at 201 mph. Needless to say, these figures would fall behind the Zora’s, but the Huracan Performante and its 631 horsepower and 443 pound-feet come with better results. The sprint to 60 mph drops to 2.9 seconds, while top speed increases slightly to 202 mph. The only issue is that the Performante is already sold out, but I’m sure Lambo will come up with more special editions in the near future. Pricing starts from around $250,000.

Read our full review of the Lamborghini Huracan.

Conclusion

2019 Chevrolet Corvette Zora ZR1 Exclusive Renderings
- image 572722

What appeared to be just a far fetched rumor back in 2014 has become reality in 2017. And even though Chevy has yet to specifically confirm this car, the spy shots clearly show a mid-engined sports car that looks a lot like a Corvette. This will be a big step forward for the nameplate and a revolution for American-made supercars. Granted, Corvette geeks will get a bit upset about the engine being placed behind the seats, but that fact that Chevy will continue to make a front-engined Vette also should provide some comfort.

  • Leave it
    • * Not yet confirmed for production
    • * Purists might not agree with the new turbo engine

References

2014 - 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 489000

Read our full review on the Chevrolet Corvette C7.

What do you think?
Car Finder: