Hooniverse Asks- Should the Next Corvette be Mid-Engine?

 

As has been the course of history, now that there are rumors of a new Corvette model appearing in a year or two, so are there rumblings that it will be mid engine. Expectations of mid-mounted engines wrapped in fiberglass and sporting the vaunted name taken from a light battle cruiser have for years been driven by show cars that were rumored to presage a production Corvette wilder than imagined. Of course none has ever come to fruition.

From 1970’s potential Pantera fighter, XP-882 to the twin Wankel XP-897GT with its Pininfarina-built body and obvious nod towards buildability, and the much later Corvette Indy, Chevy has taunted Corvette lovers with images of mid-mounted engines and pushed-forward cabins. Today, the rumors have started anew that Chevy might offer the 2012 or 23 ‘Vette with its engine behind the driver’s back, like the world’s most expensive leaf blower. But would that be a Corvette?

Chevy’s sports car has been around for nearly six decades, and one thing that has remained constant is that the Corvette maintains certain emblematic qualities, one of which has been having its engine out in front. That has allowed for another of the ‘Vette’s trademark elements – the long hood, short deck and powerful haunches styling that defines the breed. A mid engine placement requires a total re-think of the body look, making for a car that, while potentially shark-nosed and in possession of quad round tail lamps, may not have what one considers a righteous Corvette vibe. Or maybe it would just take some getting used to.

What do you think, should tradition and easy engine access be honored, keeping the next ‘Vette front-engined? Or, should the Corvette be set free to fulfill its destiny as a true exotic, and move its engine to the middle of the road?

Image source: [Conceptcarz]

49 Comments

  1. A pedant could argue that it's mid engine already (the engine is behind the front axle).

  2. No it shouldn't – at least not in regular form. If Chevy wants to make a mid-engined uber-'Vette, that's fine as long as it's a premium adjunct to the front-engined standard car. What makes the Corvette special is the fact that it offers exotic-level performance with relatively simple engineering at a moderate cost. What other $50K car comes close to the Corvette's abilities? What the current Corvette needs more than anything is a better interior.

    1. I agree. GM's problem is they won't build anything that gets too close to the Vette in style or performance. Ferrari has no problem building a 599 and a 458. Confidence in the Corvette brand is what's lacking.

  3. Probably not. The legacy worth maintaining in the Corvette, particularly from C5 forward (perhaps even C4), is performance per dollar. If GM needs to go to MR to deliver that, then sure. That would throw out much of the development and refinement (I'm not refering to interiors) of the last two decades, though. It might take them years to get back to where the Corvette is today.

  4. When I was a kid, my father subscribed to Road & Track and Car and Driver. Later, I got my own subscriptions to both those, plus Motor Trend and Automobile. Here's a rough timeline of typical cover headlines:
    Early 1970s: "The next Corvette may be mid-engined!"
    Early 1980s: "The next Corvette may be mid-engined!"
    Early 1990s: "The next Corvette may be mid-engined!"
    And so on. As the saying goes, I'll believe it when I see it.

  5. A Corvette is a V-8 front or front/mid engined RWD 2 seat sports car.
    Now if GM wants to make a mid engined exotic, go for it! Just don't call it a Corvette, Sting Ray maybe or even call it a Cadillac if you want.

      1. Only if they take the Cobalt (trying to think of the worst half-way current FWD GM) drivetrain and stick it in the back of a plastic car.

  6. A mid engined two seat supercar is what Cadillac should build, as a halo and technology showcase. Corvette should be a front engined pushrod V-8 until Zombie Jesus says otherwise. An a little runabout mid engined convertible would be perfect for Pontiac or Saturn. Wait, what? Then I suppose a four rotor Wankel is also out of the question.

    1. Based on this, GM should be able to accomodate 3 proper 'sports cars' in their US brands.
      Chevrolet – Corvette
      Cadillac – a serious high-end mid-engine Ferrari-beater
      Buick – a small lightweight high-tech car (I'm thinking an Opel GT for the 2010's, or something like a Lotus Elise or Exige)
      This way they cover all of the market, and shouldn't cannibalize each other's sales, as they will appeal to different buyers. Of course, the only way it can happen is for GM to get over their 'Corvette is king' mentality.

  7. Nope. Not really because of any "religious" reasons either. One of the great things about the 'Vette is it's actually a [relatively] practical, daily-drivable, street-parkable car. It has pretty decent trunk space (the coupe anyways), and as such it's a great cross-country road tripper. Changing it to MR moves it too much away from a "regular Joe" car and into the halo car toy-for-the-rich realm.

  8. Ford asked us a couple decades ago whether the next Mustang should be front wheel drive. The answer to this question is the same as the answer we gave them for that.

    1. Actually, they never really asked; they started developing a FWD Mustang. But strong sales of the Fox car and outcries from enthusiasts changed their tune. The FWD car became the Probe.

    2. Actually, Ford didn't even ask – they were just going to go ahead and make a FWD Mustang (a Mazstang?). Fortunately, word leaked out and the outcry began.

  9. How is it that a troll got that screen name? It makes me wonder which other ones are still available.

    1. Auch der lieber! This is like a blank check for mischief.
      Der Corvettewagon est kaput!

  10. Doesn't matter to me. It will be less expensive then it is fast (although it will be very much of both), fans will say that's all that matters and detractors will say it's not.

  11. I don't really get the hate. I'm all for Chevy doing the best it can with the Vette. There's no reason, to my way of thinking, to force the tech from a bygone era just for some sense of Nostalgia. That's Harleythink. It's admittedly worked for HD, but at what price? But if a mid-engined Vette is a leap forward in performance and they can keep the V8 power up and costs down, I think they should go for it.
    /Touch the v8 architecture though, and I'll get stabby.

  12. It should be mid engine as much as a 911 should. Also, the Germans have engineered a non-optimal layout to work brilliantly. I smell a challenge, America!

    1. Technically, since it works brilliantly, wouldn't that make the layout as optimal as its mid-rear competitors.

      1. I guess you can say the layout is optimized with the technology at the time of its debut, but I can't say with authourity if it is the optimal layout. Though I guess they would have optimized the 911 more thoroughly then the Cayman in their own interests, but if we're comparing, oh, F430 to the 997 911 to the C6 Corvette then I have no idea how their respective optimization compares. You can have an optimized un-optimal layout compare favourably to an optimal layout that hasn't been optimized.
        But don't read too much into that; I'm no chassis engineer. Also, the word "optimal" has begun to sound funny I've (ab)used it so much…

        1. I posit that it has several advantages making it an optimal layout for racing. Having the weight on the rear increases rear wheel traction for faster corner exit speeds. It also means that under hard braking, the weight is further rearward, allowing for a more balanced distribution of work to the rear brakes.
          In a non racing format, it also has the advantages of greater cabin comfort. The engine being in the rear means engine heat is not drifting back into the cabin, and the vents are blowing ambient temperature air, not air that was warmed up. It is also quieter as the noise is also behind you (well, not so much in a Porsche). Granted, current tech has worked around those problems, but in a car like a Tatra you didn't need to work around them.
          The thing people say is flawed about the design is that once you go beyond the car's limits, it is very unforgiving, which is true. Once you have lost traction, you are likely not getting it back until you are backwards. However, I would more blame the driver for not knowing the dynamics of the car or the road he is on. Nader is a dip.
          optimal optimus optopotimus optometry

  13. Keep it a front engine… BUT… Build it on a platform that will take a mid engine, get rid of the "Corvette can be no slower than any other car in GM" rule and build a Cadillac that will shake the ground.
    Once done, Corvette will get rid of the stigma and Cadillac will be relevant again.

  14. Nope.
    It might be better, but for the Corvette, it's worse. We need the Corvette to stay the brawny, front-engined, relatively crude in form, best sportscar from America that it is. Hell, the Corvette is America.

  15. This is a non-issue. A mid engine 'Vette wouldn't be a Corvette, it would be something else entirely. I'm with everybody else, build the beast, but call it a Cadillac. Or, maybe a Riviera. Give it a boattail rear end and rear window, like the old '71 that my grandma drove, but this time showing off some gorgeous V8, and I'll crave it. Let Cadillac rule the road as far as sedans are concerned, give Buick a Riviera Gran Sport mid engined sportscar, just for the hell of it.

  16. Agreed. GM should do a full-on, high-tech, mid-engine weapon – at the very least a V-12 Ferrari competitor, preferably better (Veyron-beater anyone?) – and badge it as a Cadillac. As a result, Corvette should become a better performance car than it is now, maintaining the existing layout and benefiting from a trickle-down of technology (much like Mercedes lets technology trickle down from the S-Class to their lower-priced models). Also Cadillac gets a halo car to increase showroom traffic and relevance.

  17. No. There is no point to it. It already has almost perfect weight balance, and the engine is behing the rear axle as it is. Anything between the axles is "mid engine." The only true "rear engine" modern sports car is the 911, with its engine hanging out there way behind the back axle. Incidentally, engineering wise, that is the worst possible idea you could start with, and a problem they have been engineering around for the last 50 years. Putting the engine "mid rear" gains almost nothing while making access near impossible (see: Porshe Boxster, a mid engine as opposed to the 911 rear engine) and overly complicates. Don't do it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The maximum upload file size: 64 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here