The first mid-engined ZR1 should be here in 2020

The 2021 Chevrolet C8 Corvette ZR1 is an upcoming high-performance version of the eighth-generation Corvette. Likely to debut toward the end of 2020, the Corvette ZR1 should become the range-topping version of the C8 Corvette lineup and sit above the upcoming Corvette Z06. Details are slim as of 2019, but the 2021 Corvette ZR1 should feature a more aggressive and more aerodynamic body, extra carbon-fiber, a V-8 with forced induction (it could even be a hybrid), and a beefed-up chassis packed with race-bred components.

Original rumors claimed that the ZR1 might feature a "Zora" badge in honor of former GM engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov, also known as the "father of the Corvette" and the man who experimented with mid-engined Corvette designs back in the day. It seems that this rumor might not become a reality, but the C8 ZR1 could be a massive departure from its predecessor thanks to a hybrid layout and all-wheel drive. Of course, this has yet to be confirmed, but Chevy did admit that the C8 Corvette was developed with electrification in mind. Let’s find out more about that in the review below.

Exterior

  • Based on C8 Stingray
  • Aggressive styling and aerodynamics
  • Bigger front splitter
  • Lower ride height
  • Bigger rear wing
  • Race-inspired diffuser
  • Bespoke colors
  • Standard carbon-fiber trim
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The front fascia will feature a new bumper with revised air intake

Just like its predecessor, the C8 ZR1 will be a much more aggressive version of the standard Corvette. The C8 Stingray is already a sporty mid-engined car, so the logical question here is what Chevy can do to enhance that look? Well, the answer lies in the outgoing Corvette ZR1 and a rendering of the upcoming supercar.

The front fascia will feature a new bumper with revised air intakes in the center and on the sides. Look for bigger flics in the side vents and a redesigned center intake that deflects the air in order to improve aerodynamics. An even bigger splitter will finish off the lower bumper. Likely made from carbon-fiber as standard, the splitter will extend toward the corners of the bumper and then "crawl" on the front fenders to form race-inspired canards.

With the Corvette now a mid-engined car, the big bulge on the front hood is no longer necessary since supercharged engined will sit behind the seats.

However, Chevy might opt to keep that feature for a more aggressive look. Like seen in the rendering from X-Tomi Design, there’s plenty of room for the same black element with cooling vents toward the nose. Granted, the bulge is a bit too high in the rendering, and it might hinder the driver’s view, so I think Chevy will opt for a lower cover.

2020 Chevrolet C8 Corvette ZR1 Exterior Spyshots
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Instead for the "high-wing spoiler," of the C8 Stingray, the ZR1 will feature a proper wing that will be bigger

The ZR1’s profile will actually remain identical to the C8 Stingray save for a few small changes. First, I think Chevy will make the optional carbon-fiber mirror caps, rear fender vent trim, and side skirts standard on the ZR1. A set of larger and more aggressive wheels will be added as well. Chevy could offer carbon-fiber wheels optionally. Ford is already doing it on a range of high-performance cars, like the GT and the Mustang GT350, and Chevy could follow suit. The ZR1 will also sit a bit lower than the Stingray. Finally, the carbon-fiber roof that’s optional on the base Corvette will be standard on the ZR1. The car’s profile will also reveal a bigger rear wing, also made from carbon-fiber.

The rear of the ZR1 will remain identical above the bumper and under the rear wing.

It will have the same fascia, the same quad exhaust tailpipes, and the same license plate recess (which I’m not very fond off). Instead for the "high-wing spoiler," of the C8 Stingray, the ZR1 will feature a proper wing that will be bigger and will sit higher atop the decklid. The unit will be made entirely from carbon-fiber, and it will likely be based on a design from one of GM’s race cars. It could be a milder version of the wing seen on the Corvette C8.R test car. The wing will bring major aerodynamic improvements and will generate more downforce. With the Stingray’s wing good for up to 400 pounds, the bigger wing will generate up to 800 pounds, if not more.

2020 Chevrolet C8 Corvette ZR1 Exterior Spyshots
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The rear wing will be backed by a new, more aggressive diffuser

Of course, the wing will be backed by a new, more aggressive diffuser. Larger than the Stingray’s this diffuser will occupy most of the lower bumper and will probably feature big and vertical slats just like full-fledged race cars. Chevrolet will probably need to move the exhaust pipes as well. While they may still have room at the corners of the rear bumper, Chevy could choose to either integrate them into a diffuser or move them above, where the license plate recess is on the standard model. We could see a return for the center-mounted exhaust like on the C7 Corvette.

Color options are likely to come from the C8 Stingray, but Chevrolet could add a couple of exclusive hues to the palette.

The ZR1 should be quite customizable, with various wheel design, wheel colors, brake caliper colors, and trim colors available on the options list.

Interior

  • Same as base C8, but with extras
  • Race-spec steering wheel
  • Race-spec seats
  • New color options
  • Standard carbon-fiber trim
  • Bespoke instrument cluster
  • Same trunk space
2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray gallery
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The Corvette ZR1 will come standard with the Competition Sport seats

The ZR1’s interior will be virtually identical to the C8 Corvette, so look for the same layout and similar technology. However, Chevy will add a few exclusive features and some optional technology as standard.

You should already know that the C8 Corvette features a sportier interior. It has a tall center console that’s slightly angled toward the driver’s seat, as is the big infotainment display placed at the top. The lower center console is rather clean and includes just the gearshift lever and the mode selector, plus a storage compartment with a stylish lid.

The reason for this clean design is that Chevy placed all the buttons on the right-side edge of the console.

The dashboard is flatter than before and looks fitting for a high-profile supercar. It has thin, horizontal A/C vents and a clean design on the passenger side. The standard steering wheel is already very aggressive with both the top and the bottom flat. Not so many improvements you can do here. Behind the wheel, a 12-inch digital instrument cluster displays all sorts of vita information. The dashboard extends into the door panels to form a cool and modern wraparound design and every surface on these areas, including the seats, feature high-quality materials, and contrast stitching.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray gallery
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The Corvette's optional carbon-fiber trim for the center console, dashboard, and door panels should become standard

You can choose between three different seat designs in the standard C8 Corvette, but the ZR1 will come standard with the Competition Sport seats. Designed for track use, these seats have big side bolsters and come wrapped in full Nappa leather. They also feature carbon-fiber trim on the backrests and durable textile inspired by Kevlar vests. Although they are as aggressive as they get, these seats feature modern convenience features like heating and ventilation.

So what other extra features should you expect to find in the ZR1?

For starters, the standard upholstery should be more luxurious, most likely a combination of Nappa leather, Alcantara, and a choice of cool colors for the contrast stitching.

The Corvette’s optional carbon-fiber trim for the center console, dashboard, and door panels should become standard in this car, but Chevy will also add extra carbon to the steering wheel and around the instrument cluster. Also, look for custom displays for the infotainment system and instrument cluster and extra menus for performance-related functions.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray gallery
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The ZR1 will be able to carry a total of 12.6 cubic feet of luggage in the front and rear trunks

Tech should be about the same, but Chevy could add an extra driving mode specifically tailored for the ZR1. The C8 Corvette comes with six modes: Weather, Tour, Sport, Track, Z, and MyMode. The Performance Data Record, optional on the C8 Corvette, will be standard on the ZR1. You can use it to record circuit and point-to-point road courses, and you can also program it to work like a dashcam or configure it only to start when the car is set in Valet mode.

Luggage room should remain unchanged as forced induction shouldn’t extend the engine compartment toward the trunk.

The ZR1 will be able to carry a total of 12.6 cubic feet of luggage in the front and rear trunks, which is enough for two sets of golf clubs.

That’s 2.4 cubic feet less than the old ZR1, but the Corvette will offer more space than the competition, except for the McLaren 570GT and GT.

Drivetrain

  • Likely twin-turbo V-8
  • 4.2 or 5.5 liter engine
  • Around 800 horsepower
  • Around 900 pound-feet of torque
  • 0 to 60 mph in 2.6 seconds
  • Top speed at over 210 mph
  • Hybrid layout possible
Cadillac is Being Greedy, Won't Let Chevy Use That New Biturbo V-8 For The Corvette
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Chevy already has an engine option for the ZR1 in the 4.2-liter V-8 that Cadillac dropped in the CT6 V-Sport

This is a section that’s still shrouded in mystery, as rumors point into several directions. What we do know for a fact is that the ZR1 will continue to have a V-8, but we don’t know whether it will be supercharged, like its predecessor, or turbocharged. Some say that the V-8 will be based on the LT5 architecture of the outgoing ZR1, but other rumors point toward a twin-turbo V-8 engine. To top it all off, the C8’s engine looks rather small and adding a supercharger or a pair of turbos looks rather difficult. Supercharging the 6.2-liter in C8 Corvette is also an option, but Chevy might use this road for the Corvette Z06, which will probably have close to 700 horsepower.

For the Corvette ZR1, Chevy might take the turbocharging route. For a couple of reason. First up, turbocharged engines are more fuel-efficient.

Granted, you can't expect economy-car fuel efficiency in a supercar, but a twin-turbo V-8 would fare better than a supercharged V-8. Second, Chevy already has an engine option for the ZR1 in the 4.2-liter V-8 that Cadillac dropped in the CT6 V-Sport.

Now I know there has been talk about Cadillac not wanting to share the engine with Chevrolet, but it doesn’t even have to. The 4.2-liter was created specifically for a front-engined car, so Chevy can only use the base to develop a new version of the Corvette. Just like it used the LT1 in the C7 to create the LT2 for the C8, the 4.2-liter V-8 in the CT6 can become a base for a mid-engined Corvette engine.

2020 Chevrolet C8 Corvette ZR1 Exterior Spyshots
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Another candidate for the ZR1 is a rumored brand-new engine that would displace 5.5 liters

Another candidate for the ZR1 is a rumored brand-new engine that would displace 5.5 liters. We know nothing about this engine, but it would be based on the LS architecture that also spawned the LT1 in the C7 Corvette, the LT2 in the C8 Corvette, and the LT5 in the outgoing ZR1. The only 5.5-liter version of the LS so far was used in Cadillac’s DPI prototype race car. Given that the race-spec Caddy is also mid-engined, Chevy might use its 5.5-liter V-8 as a base.

Obviously, the big question here is how powerful it will be? Well, it’s safe to assume that the upcoming ZR1 will pack more punch than its predecessor.

The latter features a 6.2-liter V-8 and a 2.6-liter Eaton supercharger that cranks out 755 horsepower and 715 pound-feet of torque.

That may seem hard to beat, but modern turbocharged engines are capable of even more power. Rumors claim that the next ZR1 will come with around 800 horsepower on tap, which is achievable given the current tech. Cadillac’s 4.2-liter V-8 is already plenty powerful at 650 horsepower, and it can handle more. The naturally aspirated 5.5-liter V-8 in the Cadillac DPi-V.R generates 580 horsepower, and it could easily blow past the 800-horsepower mark with a pair of turbos attached to it.

2020 Chevrolet C8 Corvette ZR1 Exterior Spyshots
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The ZR1 will generate at least 310 horsepower more than the base C8 Corvette and double the torque

Another big question here is whether it will be hybrid or not. Chevy already confirmed that the C8 Corvette was developed with electrification in mind, but we don’t know whether the ZR1 will have motors or not. Initial rumors speculated that Chevy might launch an even more powerful version of the ZR1, fitted with a couple of electric motors. This model would have around 1,000 horsepower. However, it’s possible that the ZR1 will have electric motors as well. This would make it easier to obtain the 800-850 horsepower rating by combining motors with a turbo V-8. The torque would be crazy on such a model, likely beyond 900 pound-feet.

If this turns out to be true, the ZR1 will generate at least 310 horsepower more than the base C8 Corvette and double the torque. The big news here would be that a hybrid ZR1 would have all-wheel drive, as at least one electric motor would spin the front axle. This would be a first not only for the ZR1 but for the Corvette nameplate altogether.

But no matter the layout, the ZR1 will be powerful enough to give Chevy a proper competitor for the Ford GT, a role that the base C8 Corvette can’t fulfill. At around 800 horsepower, the ZR1 would beat the Ford GT by more than 100 horses. Its American rival features a twin-turbo, 3.0-liter V-6 that generates 647 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque. Even the Ferrari F8 Tributo would fall behind, as its twin-turbo, 3.9-liter V-8 generates only 710 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque. Finally, the ZR1 might put the McLaren 720S to shame as well. Powered by a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8, the 720S comes with 710 horsepower and 568 pound-feet on tap.

2020 Chevrolet C8 Corvette ZR1 Exterior Spyshots
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No matter the layout, the ZR1 will be powerful enough to give Chevy a proper competitor for the Ford GT
The massive oomph will reflect in the ZR1's performance figures, which should be far greater than the outgoing model.

The C8 Corvette is already a massive improvement over its predecessor. Needing "under three seconds" to hit 60 mph from a standing start, the Stingray is almost a full second quicker than the C7 Corvette. The C8 Stingray is also only a tenth-second slower than the C7 ZR1, rated at 2.8 clicks. This means that the mid-engined layout will also bring significant improvements to the ZR1’s performance. Granted, it won’t be a full seconds quicker than the old model, but it should be able to hit 60 mph in 2.6 seconds or less. If it manages 2.5 clicks, the C8 ZR1 will be just as quick as high-profile, multi-million supercars like the Bugatti Chiron and McLaren Senna. It will also be a half-second quicker than the Ford GT and at least three tenths quicker than the Ferrari F8 Tributo and Lamborghini Huracan Evo.

As far as top speed goes, the base C8 Corvette boasts a top speed of 194 mph, seven mph higher than the previous model. We aslo know that the outgoing C7 ZR1 hits 215 mph. As it usually happens, new-generation cars a bit faster, so the ZR1 should hit at least 217 mph. It might not make it to 220 mph, but a 217 rating is good enough, especially when compared to its rivals. The Ford GT does 216 mph, the Lamborghini Huracan Evo is good for 212 mph, while the Ferrari F8 Tributo hits 211 mph. Needless to say, the ZR1 will rise above all of its direct competitors and even match top speeds of million-dollar supercars.

Chassis components will be shared with the C8 Stingray, but Chevy will make some upgrades

In the transmission department, the ZR1 will feature the C8 Stingray’s eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. Developed specifically for the mid-engine Corvette, this unit is the quickest-shifting gearbox ever fitted in this nameplate. Chevrolet won’t offer a manual.

2020 Chevrolet C8 Corvette Stingray
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Chassis components will be shared with the C8 Stingray, but Chevy will make some upgrades. Improvements should include a stiffer suspension setup, bigger brakes front and rear, and the Magnetic Ride Control 4.0 unit as standard. The enhanced cooling system and the bespoke axle ratio that Chevy offers with the Z51 Performance Package should also be standard but revised specifically for this car. Other features included in the ZR1 update will probably include launch control and an electric limited-slip differential integrated into the transaxle.

Price

2020 Chevrolet C8 Corvette Stingray
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There’s been a lot of speculation about how much the upcoming ZR1 will cost, with some rumors placing it at more than $150,000 or even close to $200,000. But now that Chevy has confirmed that the C8 Corvette will have a starting price of $59,995, the ZR1 might not be that expensive. With the base model likely fetching just $3,000 more than its predecessor, the ZR1, now priced from $123,000, could cost around $130,000 in C8 specs. Granted, it won’t be very affordable, but it will cost notably less than the competition. For reference, the Ford GT comes in at a whopping $450,000, while the Ferrari F8 Tributo retails from around $300,000.

Competitors

Ford GT

2017 Ford GT High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
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With the Corvette now sporting a mid-engined layout, the Ford GT is its main rival. The base Corvette isn’t powerful enough for the GT, but the ZR1 will have what it takes. Unveiled in 2016, the current GT is the second modern incarnation of the mid-engined sports car. Its design harks back to the first-gen GT from the mid-2000s, as well as the original GT40 race car from the 1960s. The GT is quite modern, as it rides on a carbon-fiber monocoque bolted to aluminum subframes covered in carbon panels. It has a race-ready suspension system and a Gorilla Glass windshield. Power comes from a 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine that cranks out an impressive 647 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque. The GT needs three seconds to hit 60 mph from a standing start and hits a top speed of 217 mph. The Ford GT starts from $450,000, which makes it significantly more expensive than the upcoming C8 Corvette ZR1. The GT also fetches more than its Ferrari rival, the F8 Tributo.

Read our full review of the Ford GT.

Ferrari F8 Tributo

The 2020 Ferrari F8 Tributo Joins Ferrari's Lineup as a Successor to the 488
- image 826522

An evolution of the 488 GTB, the F8 Tributo boasts a slightly more aggressive design and a more powerful engine. In essence, the Tributo is a revised 488 GTB, so the technology behind it hasn’t changed since the 488 GTB’s debut in 2015. Novelties include new engine software, a revised Side Slip Angle Control traction system, and an electronic program for managing drifts that can now be used in the Race drive mode. Powered by the same twin-turbo, 3.9-liter V-8 engine from the 488 Pista, the F8 Tributo comes with 710 horsepower and 568 pound-feet on tap. The sprint to 60 takes around 2.8 seconds, while its top speed is rated at 211 mph. Pricing for the F8 Tributo should start from around $300,000.

Read our full story on the 2020 Ferrari F8 Tributo.

Conclusion

2020 Chevrolet C8 Corvette ZR1 Exterior Spyshots
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What appeared to be just a far fetched rumor back in 2014 became reality in 2019, when Chevrolet launched the first mid-engined Corvette. This is a big step forward for the nameplate and a revolution for American-made supercars. The ZR1 will take this concept to a completely new level and deliver us the fastest and most powerful Corvette ever made. Not only that, but the ZR1 could become the fastest and most powerful vehicle in its price range. It could be able to beat the Ford GT and the Ferrari F8 Tributo for half the price, just like the C8 Corvette Stingray is the only sports car that hits 60 mph in under three seconds for $60,000. The ZR1 could revolutionize the market, even more so if it arrives with a hybrid drivetrain.

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

Further reading

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray gallery
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Read our full review on the 2020 Chevrolet C8 Corvette Stingray.

2014 - 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the Chevrolet Corvette C7.

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