The long-rumored Corvette Zora, it turns out, is very much part of the plan at General Motors, its existence revealed, ironically, by the coronavirus pandemic.
Named for Zora Arkus-Duntov, the legendary General Motors engineer widely known as “the father of the Corvette,” it’s destined to be the “ultimate” version of the new C8 mid-engined ‘Vette. The Zora will rely on a gas-electric hybrid drivetrain that will punch out a full 1,000 horsepower through all four wheels.
The possibility of naming a range-topping model after Arkus-Duntov has long been discussed and rumors were renewed when GM confirmed that the C8, or eighth-generation, Corvette would adopt the mid-engine layout the long-time chief engineer had so desperately wanted to migrate to. The project has now been confirmed through an internal document ordering a temporary halt to numerous GM programs due to the pandemic.
Among other things, the stop-work order confirmed that an assortment of other Corvette models are in the works, as was widely expected, including the traditional step-ladder upgrades, starting with the Z06 and then the ZR1.
The internal document, significantly, confirms what TheDetroitBureau.com has repeatedly reported: Chevrolet will be turning to electrification to punch up Corvette’s performance.
That includes a Corvette Grand Sport originally due out in 2023 that was to pair the current Stingray’s 6.2-liter V-8 with a hybrid-boost system to deliver about 600 hp, or more than 100 ponies beyond what the track-rated C8 can manage.
But things will be pushed to the extreme with the Zora that, insiders indicate, will pull together an assortment of bells and whistles to get up to a full 1,000 hp. That starts with a twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-8 and at least one, and possibly even more, electric motors.
The hybrid package will drive both axles to ensure that power gets to the pavement during aggressive launches. What’s unclear is the size of the battery pack and whether the Zora might even have some measurable all-electric driving range.
As in the past, Chevy plans to roll out one new Corvette variant at a time and, based on the document that was leaked, the strategy appeared to be for one new model roughly every year, starting with the next-generation Z06 in the 2022 model-year. That more track-focused package will use a naturally aspirated twin-cam 5.5-liter V-8 expected to make around 650 horsepower.
Next up, a twin-turbo version of that V-8 powering the C8 ZR1. Essentially, it gets the same internal combustion system as the Zora minus the hybrid boost, but still was expected to punch out something in the range of 850 hp, or about 100 more than the C7 version of the ZR1.
The Zora was planned for some time around the 2025 model-year. It seems likely that most, if not all the Corvette variants in development right now may wind up being pushed back. Significantly, GM has said it does not plan to cancel “any programs” due to the pandemic-related shutdown of its engineering and manufacturing operations, emphasizing “near-term programs like full-size SUVs, and our EV portfolio . . . will see little or no impact. ”
That might surprise some observers as it has been widely speculated that the industry, in general, will see a significant number of products cut, as well as delayed, not only due to development delays but because of the huge financial hit manufacturers are taking. Ford earlier this week confirmed it is scrapping plans to develop an all-electric SUV as part of a joint venture with EV start-up Rivian.