Should AWD be Part of the C7 Corvette?
Motor Trend TV recently presented a three-way drag race between a 2012 Nissan GT-R, a 2011 Ford Shelby GT500, and a 2011 Z06 Corvette. These are three VERY different cars.
The 2011 Z06 Corvette has a 7-liter engine with , 505-HP, 470 FT/LB of torque, has rear-wheel-drive, cost $75,255 ($98,010 as tested with almost every option), and weighs 3,253-LBS.
The 2012 Nissan GT-R has a 3.8-Liter engine with 530-HP, 448-FT/LBS of torque, has all-wheel drive, , cost $90,950, and weighs 3,898-LBS.
The Shelby GT500 packs a 5.4-liter supercharged 550-HP, 510 FT-LB torque engine, has rear-wheel-drive, costs $49,495 ($55,330, as tested), and weighs 3,801-LBS.
Here’s the Motor Trend video report…
In the video, all three cars run at once on a 1/4-mile drag strip. No ET figures were given, but the Nissan and Z06 clearly and totally SMOKED the Shelby. The Nissan with it’s twin clutch and AWD put a serious hole shot on the Z06 and the Shelby. After the launch, the Z06 maintains it’s pace with the Nissan but didn’t have the grunt to catch the Nissan. The Shelby was left in the dust.
So, what we have here is the Nissan weighing 645-LBS (about the weight of an old cast iron Chrysler Hemi) more than the Corvette with 25 extra horsepower and 22-FT/LB less torque than the Z06. The Nissan’s AWD system is clearly able to use it’s horsepower and torque more efficiently to put an early lead on the much lighter Corvette.
While all three cars are truly high-performance automobiles, they are kind of a miss-match with the clear advantage going to the Nissan’s AWD GT-R. If the Z06 was also equipped with AWD the results would have been VERY DIFFERENT.
An AWD GT-R also bested an older ZR1 last year in the famous 154-turn Nurburgring 12.9-mile track, thanks to it’s superb AWD system. But in June 2011, with Corvette engineer Jim Mero behind the wheel of a 2012 ZR1 Corvette equipped with the new High Performance Package (lightweight racing wheels and the new Michelin PS Cup tires), the ‘12 ZR1 edged out the Nissan GT-R at the with a 7.19.63 Ring run. That’s just one-second off the $245,000 Porsche GT2 RS. (You could get a deal on two ZR1s and a Chevy Volt for that much money!) A 2010 GT-R had a Ring time of 7.26.7. The ZR1’s seven-second reduction in lap time is a lot.
What would an AWD ZR1 be capable of? It almost hard to imagine!
So, what does all this have to do with the C7 Corvette? Engineers of all high performance sports cars are very aware of their competition. Perhaps part of the reason why Chevy is being so tightlipped about the C7 (besides obvious reasons) is that they are working on an AWD system for the next generation Corvette. This is pure speculation on my part, but I know that car companies buy one another’s performance cars to take apart to see what makes them tick. Even mighty Porsche bought several early C4 Corvettes in the mid-’80s for dissection when it was obvious that their 944s couldn’t keep up with the Corvettes in the Showroom Stock racing series. The Corvettes were so dominant, they were banned from the series after a few years.
The days of Corvettes getting hammered for being too big and overweight are long gone. Modern sports GT cars will never the little 2,000-pound sports cars of old. And truthfully, most buyers would not want a spartan, 2,000-pound car. A 911 Porsche Turbo 3.8 measures 175.2” in length, 72.9” in width, and 51.2” in height. A Grand Sport Corvette measures 175.6” in length, 75.9” in width, and 48.7” in height. The Vette is .4” longer, 3” wider, but 2.5” lower. Over the years, Corvettes have gotten lighter and smaller, while Porsches have gotten heavier and larger.
But back to the C7 Corvette and the possibility of an AWD option. If that seems unlikely, one only has to look at GMs willingness to build a supercharged, intercooled, dry-sump oiled Corvette. Would an all-wheel-drive Z06 be a stretch? I’d speculate, NOT.
Is an All-Wheel-Drive option on your C7 wish-list? It wouldn’t be cheap, but would put the Corvette way ahead of the competition. Let us know what you think.
Here’s Corvette engineer, Jim Mero blasting a ZR1 at The Ring.
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