Although Chevrolet remains extremely tight-lipped on virtually all aspects of its next-generation Corvette, heavily camouflaged versions of this substantially revised "C7" iteration have now been spotted undergoing public shakedown testing. While comprehensive cladding conceals many of the fine points, these latest spy images do reveal a bit more basic information about a vehicle that will launch sometime in 2013. Coupled with a few design elements that have been confirmed, it appears that the upcoming iteration will be a more than worthy successor to a car that for 60 years has been rightfully lauded as "America's sports car."
On the for-sure front, we do know the Gen VII Corvette will remain a 2-seat exercise that retains its present front-engine/rear-drive configuration. Its long-rumored switch to a mid-ship configuration won't happen until at least until the Gen VIII transition. Initially, motivation for the 2014 Corvette will come from a bespoke version of GM's new Gen 5 small-block V8. While it too remains cloaked in a good deal of mystery for the moment, GM has said the engine will feature efficiency-enhancing direct fuel injection and "a new combustion system" that some are speculating might include a three-valve cylinder head. The Gen 5's bag of new-tech tricks also seems likely to contain an improved version of GM's "active fuel management" cylinder deactivation system and variable valve timing.
Displacement of this new engine for baseline Corvette duty is strongly rumored to be 5.5 liters, a considerable drop from the current 6.2-liter. However power output is expected to be at least 440-450 horses, which would give it a slight edge compared to the existing engine. If speculation proves true, the C7 also will be lighter than its 3,200-lb C6 counterpart, a situation that should permit the 2014 Corvette to deliver better performance as well as even higher mpg ratings. Given the new V8's scalability, expect bigger and more potent versions to appear in future Z06/ZR1 iterations. Although a twin-turbo V6 also may be in the cards at some point, don't anticipate seeing it for Job One.
Despite considerable effort to hide its exterior details, these latest spy shots clearly indicate the C7 Coupe maintains the same basic proportions as the existing car. It looks to have a modestly shorter front overhang and possibly an even "faster" angle on the windshield and back glass to help improve its aerodynamics which will be further improved by a host of other wind-cheating modifications, including optimized underbody fairings. Closer perusal shows the C7's recast nose is fitted with new LED-infused lighting and features a reshaped lower air intake that recalls the design of the Corvette Stingray Concept introduced at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show. While the exposed roof retains the subtle "double-bubble" design of the C6 model, the rear cladding permits only speculation regarding the new contours of the C7's backglass element, aft fascia and lower diffuser. Although the dual-Corvette's paired taillight design will carry forward, it appears the lenses have been recast, abandoning the classic circular motif for a more Camaro-like rectangular shape. The exhaust outlet configuration also transitions from centrally positioned twinned pairs to a single 4-outlet grouping.
Still no clear look at what's rumored to be a fully revamped inner sanctum of the new Corvette, but word is that it will finally be brought up to 21st century status in both design and materials. Whether the trick bucket seats that appear ready to accommodate full 5-point racing seat belts make it to production status also remains an open question.