2002 Chevy Corvette Z06: What Should the C7 Get?
January 20, 2011
I'm guessing it won't be too much longer before we start hearing real rumors or seeing spy photos of the next-generation (C7) Corvette. Against this, we still have a slow economy, poor sports car sales, GM's recent bankruptcy (that perhaps slowed development plans down) and stricter CAFE fuel economy standards. But the current (C6) car debuted in 2005, and I just can't picture Chevy dithering much longer on one of its most iconic cars.
So, you've read what we like and don't like about our 2002 Z06 (C5) and, though various road tests, the newer C6. What would you want for the next-generation Corvette to make it something you might consider buying? My thoughts follow.
I've organized this by topical areas that I suspect would get the most attention.
Engine? I think it's pretty unrealistic to expect anything but V8 power. No doubt increased fuel economy will be a priority. But going with a twin-turbo V6 or something just wouldn't suit the car's heritage -- and much of the Corvette's sales base is based on heritage. Instead, go with technology like direct injection or variable valve timing to get the car's economy (and power!) up.
All-wheel drive? I've seen a lot of people wanting this on forum posts. Sorry, no. it doesn't suit the car's character and would just add weight and complexity. If you want all-wheel drive, buy a Nissan GT-R.
Mid-engine? See AWD above.
Transmission? This could be a great opportunity to introduce a dual-clutch automated transmission. Most competing cars have them (GT-R, M3, Boxster/Cayman). Since the majority of Corvette buyers opt for the automatic, this would provide enhanced potential for those buyers and probably draw in a lot of manual buyers too. Just keep a manual as an option, OK?
Suspension/handling? A better-communicating Corvette is essential. It already has great numbers; it just could stand to be more involving to drive. Maybe a switch to a coilover suspension would help? The current traverse leaf spring design is part of the car's heritage and works better than most people give it credit for. But clearly something needs to be done.
Interior? This needs to be improved. It doesn't need to be a luxury boat. GM tried that already -- remember the Cadillac XLR? Instead, focus on improved build quality and design. Have a Recaro seat option like the CTS. Have the latest techno feature options like hard-drive based nav and maybe some cool smart-phone apps. Welcome the latest generation of drivers.
Convertible? I could see people desiring a folding hardtop design. But it would require too much weight and complexity in my opinion. Keep the soft top.
Weight? A strong power-to-weight ratio is one of the current Corvette's main draws. Keep it that way. A base weight of around 3,200 pounds should be the target.
Styling? A lot of people think the next Corvette will incorporate some retro-styling elements. That might work well for sales (see Mustang and Challenger). But Chevy would also run the risk of designing itself into a corner. I say keep it moving forward from the current design.
Cost? Ah, and here's where I'm glad I'm an automotive journalist in my comfy office chair rather than a Corvette engineer or designer. No doubt it will be tough to incorporate all the things the Corvette needs but still keep it affordable. Even now, I'd say the base Corvette has crept up to uncomfortable levels in terms of price (more than $50,000 with just a couple options). The Corvette should still be the American sports car for the everyman.
So what do you think GM should do with the C7?
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor