Auto review: Chevy unleashes first all-wheel-drive, hybrid, 655-hp Corvette
Published in Automotive News
The Chevrolet Corvette turned 70 years old Tuesday, and in celebration the iconic supercar showcased its first hybrid, all-wheel-drive model.
The $104,295, 2024 Corvette E-Ray expands the mid-engine, C8 model’s offering with a grand touring version to complement its ferocious, rear-wheel-drive, $109,295 Z06 performance model and standard, $65,895 Stingray. The E-Ray and Z06 share a wider track and more aggressive body panels compared to the base car, but they diverge under the skin. With a Stealth mode that runs on the battery alone and all-season, AWD grip, E-Ray offers more refinement for the daily driver. A $111,2954 hard-top convertible version of the E-Ray will also be available when the hybrid 'Vette goes on sale late this year.
Not that the E-Ray lacks performance. The Detroit News got a ride along in the E-Ray at General Motors’ Proving Grounds to witness its awesome power and all-wheel grip on a cold January day.
“We’ve long heard from customers they really want AWD to make it a three-or-even-four-season car,” said Executive Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter at Milford. “We weren’t able to do that with front engine architecture, but with mid-engine architecture, that freed up space to enable us to do it.”
With an electric motor up front and 6.2-liter V-8 driving the rears, E-Ray is the quickest Corvette in a straight line yet, accelerating from 0-60 mph in just 2.5 seconds. The hybrid-electric drivetrain makes a combined 655 horsepower and 595 pound-feet of torque (the e-motor’s 160 horsepower complementing the small-block V-8’s 495 ponies). The Z06’s high-revving, 8,500-rpm, GT3-racing-derived, 5.5-liter V-8 — the most powerful, naturally-aspirated production engine made — makes 670 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque for a 2.6 second 0-60 dash. The base, 6.2-liter, 495-horse Stingray also boasts a sub-3-second 0-60 number at 2.9.
Paired with Z06, Juechter says E-Ray “splits the family” in similar fashion to Porsche, which offers parallel grand touring and track-focused models. Think of the all-wheel-drive 911 Carrera 4 compared to the rear-wheel-drive 911 GT3, for example.
In prior generations, Corvette has expanded on its standard model with three performance variants: Grand Sport, Z06 and ZR1. With the addition of E-Ray, The Detroit News anticipates the eighth-generation Corvette lineup will include six trims — including a new Zora hypercar at the summit that will combine electric power, AWD and a twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-8 for more than 1,000 horsepower.
The 70th birthday celebration is no coincidence. GM sees the hybrid ‘Vette not just as a game-changer with its unique talents, but as a bridge to an electric future where all of the General’s products will be battery-powered.
Corvette engineers say E-Ray was always at the center of plans to build Corvette’s first mid-engine car.
“Starting at the inception of C8, we thought an electrified front axle was the way to go. It’s independent of GM’s commitment to zero emissions,” said Juechter. “The Z06 is mission-specific. It’s focused on the track experience, whereas the E-Ray is an all-arounder. We like to say the Z06 is the scalpel — a sharp instrument for a specific purpose. E-Ray is more of a Swiss Army knife — it’s good at all sorts of things. It’s capable on track, but a great daily driver, and it’s great in inclement weather.”
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