This is not a new concept car from ChevyChevrolet, but the concept itself (a fiberglass buck) is making the rounds of the auto shows and that’s where we encountered it in person. GM’s press group (what’s left of it, which isn’t much) had already made all of it’s usual announcements some time ago – not coincidentally about the same time GM went belly-up.
This is a controversial concept, one which the industry didn’t particularly like, but which they still took as a likely styling direction for the next Corvette. Industry magazines fall all over themselves in publicizing “the next Corvette” because it results in a huge increase in magazine sales. Keep in mind that not everyone subscribes: sales at grocery stores, airport stores, and magazine stands can fall or raise dramatically depending on the cover story and layout.
Corvette fans, of course, salivate all over any news of future Corvettes, whether that news has any merit or not. And whether it has any actual inside source or not. If the next Corvette looks anything remotely like this, they will embrace it. And frankly they will embrace a new Corvette no matter what it looks like.
Styling is the big question. We have to wonder if this concept came out of the same camp that created the Camaro prototype, then proceeded to put it into production very nearly as-is (which has resulted in huge criticism for it’s horrible sight-lines and terrible dashboard – and note the dash will be replaced in 2012 which is not a minute too soon). There may also have been a team member who previously worked on the Cadillac Cien – note the Caddy-like headlights in the photo below).
Besides ridiculous aerodynamics, our major problem with this concept is the split rear window. The idea of bringing back the split rear window (as in 1963) has been discussed all over the press, and appeared all but certain when the concept was released. Former GM executives fell all over themselves discussing the possibility (right at the time of the bankruptcy), as if they believed that GM uber-styling alone could bring the company back from mismanagement hell.
We’ll cut thru the hype and say – as we first said last November – that very clearly this is a stupid idea. If it’s done, it’ll be gone after a year – just like it was last time, and it will result in a single year of ultra-collectivity.
In GM’s own words:”Chevrolet delivers a futuristic vision of technology and design with the 50th Anniversary Corvette Stingray Concept”. A version of the model was first shown at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show and stars as “Sideswipe” in “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”. The Corvette Stingray Concept represents both the iconic legacy and an exciting future for the Corvette. The Corvette Stingray Concept was developed as an internal design challenge to combine classic Corvette cues with surprisingly high-tech features, modern materials, and a striking new appearance.
The car is well-appointed with a clamshell hood, scissor-style doors, ergonomic seats, rear-view camera with night vision enhancement, and a high performance hybrid drive. Interactive touch controls allow the driver to customize the power and efficiency of his or her ride and share it with friends via the in-car camera system and enhanced telemetrics.”
Lets look st the images. Lots of curves over the fenders – almost C3/cartoonish. Typically-Corvette raised center section on the hood. And a very low roofline… which given the H-point will almost certainly not survive into production (unless the Camaro camp has something to say about it).
And here’s the problem – a “split” that will almost totally block the rear view mirror. Completely stupid.
This slightly different view hides the split… and shows us another problem. The rear fenders block the rear/side quarter view out of the car. Dumb again.
As we’ve said before, we’d rather see a refinement of the current styling, and a focus on the mechanical aspects of the car. We know a new V-8 engine is coming to GM, and at 5.5 liters this will also be the next engine used in the Corvette as well as all the surviving rear wheel drive vehicles from GM. It has an aluminum block, cam-in-cam phasing (ye olde pushrod architecture cannot support real variable cam timing), and direct injection across the board. We’d predict that the 7 liter Z06 engine is dead since it’s based on the architecture that will soon become obsolete. There will probably be a supercharged V-8 model, or on the outside chance a twin-turbo V-6 – and since the costs of either engine would be shared with Cadillac, there will be a lot of input to this decision.
And we’ll be brave (and risk our necks) by saying the transverse leaf springs should be killed. While the packaging is good, the tunability is awful and the behavior at anything other than center is absolutely lousy. They are the reason for the bizarre dynamics at the limits in today’s Corvettes (other than with the “Magneto-Rheological” suspension, where this and many other ills can be programmed away). Like pop-up headlamps and wide flat seats for fat guys, the time of the leaf spring has gone. Any continued reliance on “heritage” like this – or the split-window styling, shows that Team Corvette will remain in the past, rather than advance into the future by demonstrating the leading-edge engineering capabilities of GM.