With the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray just months away from showrooms, word is already leaking out about the next version of the mid-engine C8 and it could push into territory rarely seen before, at least not from anything rolling out of a Detroit factory.
Though General Motors officials wouldn’t discuss future plans during the C8’s debut news conference last month, they made no bones about the fact that they’ll continue to follow the classic formula that will bring us ever more powerful variants. And, if the pattern holds, that would start with the next-generation Corvette Z06.
According to a report in Automobile Magazine, which our own sources appear to back up, we’ll see the next Z06 arrive sometime late in 2021 as a 2022 model-year offering. More significantly, we can expect it to deliver a whopping 800 horsepower and more than 700 pound-feet of torque. That’s at least 150 hp and 50 lb-ft more than the current Z06.
That would not only become the most powerful production version of the Corvette ever – handily besting the current line-topper, the ZR1 with its 755 hp – but become one of the most powerful products ever to roll out of one of the Detroit Big Three plants. At 840 ponies, the all-time record is held by the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Demon though, while street-legal, that coupe was primarily designed for the drag strip.
According to the report in Automobile, the next Z06 will trade out the C8 Stingray’s 495 hp 6.2-liter small-black V-8 for a twin-turbo eight-banger based on the new, 5.5-liter Blackwing engine already found under the hood of the Cadillac CTS-V. It reportedly will be rebadged the LT7 in Chevrolet trim.
As to what it might be pair with, there are some interesting options. Chevrolet has a winner on its hands with the new seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox in the 2020 Corvette Stingray, and it reportedly has plenty of upside potential to handle more horsepower and torque. But a 10-speed DCT may also become available.
As to rumors that the manual gearbox missing from the C8 Stingray might be offered, as well, that seems highly unlikely. During an extensive conversation with TheDetroitBureau.com last month, Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter made it clear that a stick is not in the offing. Among other things, there’s really not much space in the footwell for the added pedal. It would require tearing up the firewall and create some complex challenges considering where the gearbox is mounted. Juechter also stressed that there is currently no supplier source for a manual capable of working in the C8.
Visually, there should be some modest, albeit notable changes to handle the upgraded Blackwing engine. The next Z06 will need to breathe even deeper, both to feed the powertrain and to keep it cool. We’re also expecting aero modifications to further enhance downforce, as well as to reduce drag at high speeds so the Z06 can handily top the 200 mph mark.
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As with the current, C7-generation Corvette, the mid-engine package was designed to handle coming powertrain technology changes. That includes electrification, four GM sources confirmed. Today’s C7 performance topper is the ZR1, and that name could return, but some reports continue to indicate Chevy will honor Zora Arkus-Duntov, the man widely known as “the father of the Corvette,” by dubbing the most powerful C8 the “Zora.”
As to what that might bring in terms of performance, an educated guess would suggest Chevrolet engineers are working up a hybrid system, perhaps one using the KERS – or kinetic energy recovery system – technology developed for Formula One and now favored by such European exotics as Ferrari.
Some form of electrification is definitely in the works and some observers would not rule out the idea of an all-electric Corvette at some point. Noting that its future plans effectively call for a complete shift to battery power, that was something that GM President Mark Reuss would not confirm – but also not rule out – when he talked with TheDetroitBureau.com about the potential of the C8’s new, mid-engine platform last month.