The mid-engined Vette is coming in early 2019!

The Corvette Zora ZR1 is one of the rumored names for Chevrolet’s upcoming mid-engined sports car. Set to be unveiled in 2019, it will be part of the eighth-generation Corvette, also known as the C8. For the time being it’s not yet certrain whether Chevy will keep making a front-engined Vette, but the midship sports car has already been spotted on public roads as a prototype.

Whether Chevrolet will keep offering a front-engined Corvette or not, the company’s goals with the C8-generation car are more than obvious. Chevy is not only aiming to offer a competitor for the Ford GT, but also wants to enter the entry-level supercar market dominated by the Porsche 911 Turbo, Ferrari 488 GTB, Lamborghini Huracan, and the McLaren 720S. Keep reading to find out what we already know about the upcoming Corvette Zora.

Continue reading to learn more about the Chevrolet Corvette Zora.

The Background

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Zora ZR1 High Resolution Exterior
- image 526910

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 in 2019 with the long-rumored Corvette Zora ZR1.

This new car is said 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 launch a new aluminum chassis for mid-ship duty and also build a brand-new engine. The Zora is expected to carry a price of more than $100k, horsepower ratings in excess of 600 ponies, and return 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.

Exterior

  • Evolution of the C7 design?
  • Aggressive styling and aerodynamics
  • Shorter nose
  • Roof similar to standard Corvette
  • New exhaust configuration
  • Carbon-fiber and SMC body
  • Targa model possible
  • Two rear wing versions
2014 - 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray High Resolution Exterior
- image 488982
2020 Chevrolet Corvette Zora ZR1 Exterior Spyshots
- image 725377
Chevrolet Corvette C7 Chevrolet Corvette Zora ZR1
The prototypes are slightly more aggressive versions of the current Corvette ZR1 up front

The Zora 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 November 2018.

The nose features that same 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. I guess we could say that the prototypes are slightly more aggressive versions of the current Corvette ZR1 up front.

2014 - 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray High Resolution Exterior
- image 488981
2020 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 exhaust has been replaced by a more traditional quad layout with two pipes on each side of the diffuser.

The slim taillights are also new. Chevy has been hanging on to the quad taillights for quite a few decades now. Round or square, the quad lights have been a part of the Corvette design since the second generation and they can still be seen on the C7. The mid-engined prototype suggests that the C8 will be first Vette since the 1960s to drop the design in favor of slim and long taillights. The massive trapezoidal license plate recess in the middle of the fascia and the increasingly wide deck lid further set the C8 apart from any other Corvette built until now.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Zora ZR1 Exterior Spyshots
- image 725316
While the test car doesn't feature a rear wing, the production model will 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-fiber 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

  • More luxury
  • Carbon-fiber trim
  • State-of-the-art tech
  • Race-inspired seats
  • Track-ready features
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 interior the same air of quality as anything the Germans and Italians can manage. The seats should be at least on par with the ones from the Corvette ZR1, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chevy take things up a notch in terms of materials and sportiness.

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 Lamborghini 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. A telemetry system should be standard as well.

A drawing posted by a CorvetteForum user claiming he saw the interior suggests a layout somewhat similar to the C7. The driver compartiment will be completely separated from the passenger side. The center stack will be oriented toward the driver, while the tall and wide center console will have most of its controls closer to the driver’s seat. The center stack will have a simpler design, with less buttons and switches. Likewise, the all-digital instrument cluster will display detailed performance-related info.

Drivetrain

  • Twin-turbo V-8 engines
  • V-8 could be based on LT5
  • Up to 850 horsepower
  • 1,000-horsepower hybrid rumored
  • Dual-clutch transmission
  • RWD configuration
  • AWD hybrid possible
  • 0 to 60 mph in less than three seconds
  • Top speed up to 220 mph
2020 Chevrolet Corvette Zora ZR1
- image 753114

Note: Leaked CAD images above may preview the V-8 that will power the mid-engined Vette

The Zora doesn’t need more power than the Corvette ZR1 in order to become a full-fledged supercar

Before the current Corvette ZR1 arrived, it was believed that the Zora would get a brand-new, twin-turbo engine that would deliver more power than the Z06. This specific unit was rumored to be called the LT5. Since then, Chevy launched the Corvette ZR1 with a supercharged, 6.2-liter LT5 engine rated at 750 horsepower and 715 pound-feet of torque. With the current Corvette ZR1 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, Chevy will need to increase power even further if it was its new supercar to carry the halo even farther.

Whether the Zora’s unit will be brand-new or based on the LT5 remains a mystery, but in order to squeeze more than 800 horsepower out of a V-8, Chevy will have to replace the supercharger with a pair of big turbos. On the other hand, the Zora doesn’t need more power than the Corvette ZR1 in order to become a full-fledged supercar. Chances are it will be lighter and the mid-engined configuration will solve many traction and stability issues. All told, a 700-horsepower Zora will most definitely leave the Corvette ZR1 behind on a race track.

Chevy might introduce a hybrid version with up to 1,000 horsepower!

However, more recent rumors claims that Chevy may be readying three different drivetrains for this car. The base (and more affordable) model could use the 6.2-liter V-8 that cranks out 460 horsepower in the regular C7 Corvette. Of course, the upgrades that come with the new generation could increase this figure to almost 500 horsepower.

The mid-range model will reportedly get the twin-turbo, 4.2-liter V-8 that GM recently introduced with the Cadillac CT6 V-Sport. This unit cranks out 650 horsepower and should have a similar rating in the mid-engined Corvette.

Finally, there will be a range-topping supercar with a brand-new, 5.5-liter V-8. Also powered by a pair of turbos, this engine could generate around 850 horsepower. Impressive? Definitely, but there’s an even wilder speculation in the rumor mill.

Later in the C8’s life cycle, Chevrolet might introduce a hybrid version of the sports car. The same 5.5-liter V-8 could be paired with an electric motor for a whopping 1,000 horsepower! That’s as much as FCA’s recently introduced "Hellephant" crate engine. It’s crazy as hell, but we love the idea!

The supercar could get a dual-clutch automatic with no option for a manual

The car should bow as a RWD model only, but there the hybrid version will have an AWD setup similar to supercars like the Porsche 918 Spyder. 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 ZR1 without adding additional bracing and strengthening, the bones should have no problem handling the stresses of a mid-engine small block with forced induction.

In the transmission department, the Zora could get a dual-clutch automatic with no option for a manual. Yes, many Corvette fans will go nuts if this happens, but Chevy has all the right reasons to go with a dual-clutch only configuration. Not only it would make the Zora faster, but a supercar with one gearbox will reduce cost and complexity, which is the way to go for an automaker like General Motors. But fear not, a Tremec-developed dual-clutch means comes with race-ready capability so fans of manual gearboxes won’t be disappointed. Assuming they will be willing to give it a shot.

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 in the gas-only models. The 1,000-horsepower hybrid with AWD should be able to hit the benchmark in less than 2.6 seconds.

Price

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Zora ZR1 Exterior Spyshots
- image 725323

There’s been a lot of speculation on how much this car might cost too. Initial rumors placed the sticker in the $150,000 range. However, information that surfaced on the CorvetteForum claims that the Zora might be priced from $169,900. This is notably more than the C7 Corvette and puts the C8 in the same bracket with the Porsche 911 Turbo and Audi R8, but below the Ferrari 488 GTB and the McLaren 720S.

On the other hand, word has it that this might be the pricing of the range-topping, 850-horsepower version. The base model could actually come in at less than $100,000, but it’s all speculation at this point.

Expect the C8 Corvette to break cover at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show in January.

A Future in Racing

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Zora ZR1 Exterior Spyshots
- image 794064

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

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

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

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

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Zora ZR1 Exclusive Renderings
- image 572722

What appeared to be just a far fetched rumor back in 2014 will become reality in 2019. 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 could 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
    • Expensive

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?
Show Comments
Car Finder: