The cat has been out of the bag for some time that Chevrolet has been cooking up a Gen6 version of the Z/28 as well as a mid-engine version of the Corvette. While a mid-engine Corvette could stay just a concept, as it has since the ‘60s, the Z/28 has already been spotted testing at the Nürburgring. The original speculation was that it would be very similar to the previous generation, but faster and powered by the supercharged LT4 Gen V V8 found in the upcoming 2017 Camaro ZL1 as well as the current Corvette Z06 and Cadillac CTS-V. However, after this video surfaced, it seemed to indicate that the track-born model will have a naturally aspirated Gen V V8 engine.
[Camaro fans note: don’t worry about the crash at the end, this car was back on the road the next day.]
Now you may be thinking that a naturally aspirated Gen V8 engine is the natural choice (no pun intended) for a car built for road racing like the new Camaro Z/28. So where did that original speculation even come from? Well back when the 2015 Corvette Z06 was launched at the 2014 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), journalists asked Corvette engineers point blank: why not a 427 Gen V V8? The answer was that they could not make their performance target, assumed to be over 600 horsepower, and that the R&D costs did not justify the increase in power over an LS7. And without the flagship supercar to bear the cost burden of developing a large cube Gen V V8, it seemed unlikely that a 2018 Camaro Z/28 would have such an engine. From a cost perspective, it was more likely that the Z/28 would have either the ZL1’s LT4 or a slightly hopped-up version of the LT1.
The big BUT (there’s always one) is that the Camaro team never likes to play second fiddle to the Mustang. Since the Shelby is making 526 horsepower with its flat-plane crank 5.2-liter, that would be the obvious performance target for a new Z/28. It seems unlikely that Chevrolet would be able to extract that from a 6.2L LT1, which begs the question whether a 427-cube Gen V V8 is in the works. The counterpoint is that the Camaro is almost a hundred pounds lighter, and does not require as much power to equal or surpass a Mustang. And, in fact, one of the greatest benefits of the Gen V V8 engines over the Gen IV is average power, not peak. Anyone who has driven a C7 Corvette Stingray can tell you that the off-idle torque of the 6.2L LT1 is comparable to the LS7 in the previous generation Z06. A stark contrast from the high revving, dual overhead cam Ford motors. Could Chevrolet make a 427ci direct-injection engine that makes over 526 horsepower? I’d bet on it. But, will they?
As for the mid-engine Corvette, a prototype was spotted at GM’s proving grounds in early 2015. The Corvette team has been toying with the notion of making a mid-engine Corvette since Zora Arkas-Duntov was at the helm. The current mid-front layout with the transaxle was sort of a stepping-stone to optimum front to rear weight balance. As horsepower continues to climb, many engineers think that a mid-engine layout is needed for traction – hence why the fastest production supercars in the world use this layout. According to the latest rumors, the mid-engine platform will eventually replace the C7. However, it will first be unveiled as the new halo model. As a last hurrah, we could very well see the first twin-turbo production Corvette. Some have said it has a smaller displacement Gen V V8 (such as 5.5 liters), however a certain GM dealership claims it is a 6-cylinder with 700hp. The price could be over $150,000. Given GM’s need to separate the Corvette from the Camaro, its experience with twin-turbo V-6s and the release of the new Ford GT, all of this sounds entirely possible.