Vette Polls: Another Case for an All-Wheel Drive C7 Corvette

Dateline: 10.3.11

Porsche and Bugatti Should be Red Faced (Chevrolet too!

Take our poll at the end of this post. 

Last July 1, 2011 I posted a story titled “A Case For An All-Wheel-Drive C7 Corvette.” Motor Trend TV presented a video featuring a 3-way drag race between a Shelby GT 500, a Nissan GT-R, and a 2011 Z06. Although the video was fun to watch, no ETs or speeds were mentioned, but is was obvious that the Shelby was totally SMOKED, the Z06 tried valiantly, but the Nissan was the winner.

Of the three cars, the critical numbers were all over the place and if you ignore the Nissan’s AWD drive train, the performance was baffling. The Shelby and the Nissan both have 550-HP, while the Z06 only has 505-HP. The Shelby had the most torque (you know, that “other” horsepower) with 510 lb/ft, while the Nissan had 448 lb/ft and the Z06 470 lb/ft. In the weight department, the Z06 was the flyweight, weighing in at just 3,253 LBS, with the Shelby at 3,801 and the Nissan at 3,898. So, on paper, the Z06’s 645-pound advantage should have given the win to the Corvette. But when you see the video, the story was obvious. The Nissan slapped a hole shot on the Z06 and the Shelby that they were never able to recover from. End of story.

What's missing from this cover? How about a ZR1!

The cover story of the November 2011 issue of Road & Track, the title story reads, “Speed Kings – 0-60 in 2.5 SEC!” On page 50 the article lead is “The Two Second Club – What does it take to join the quickest club on four wheels?” Of all of the current production high performance cars, apparently there are only three capable of running sub-3-second 0-60-mph times. The three cars are: the 2012 Nissan GT-R Premium, the 2011 Porsche 911 Turbo S, and the 2012 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport.

For the purpose of the essay, it’s important to note that all three of these cars have all-wheel-drive.

Who won? Want to take a guess? Time’s up! First place went to the Bugatti with a 0-60-mph blast of 2.52-seconds! You might want to let that one soak in a little. Second place went to the 911 Porsche with a 2.84-second 0-60 time. (See, Porsche doesn’t win everything!) And third place went to the Nissan GT-R Premium with a 0-60 time of 2.94-seconds. Quarter-mile ET and speeds were not given.

The Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport is hands down, the King of Supercars. The car packs a 7993cc W-16, quad turbo (that FOUR turbochargers!) with a whopping 1,183-HP, 1106 lb/ft of torque, and a 7-speed dual-clutch transaxle. Weight – 4,545-LBS. Top speed is “limited” at 258-MPH. OUCH! Nuff said.

The second place Porsche 911 Turbo S sports a more down-to-earth 530-HP with 516 lb/ft of torque, and a 7-speed dual-clutch transaxle. Weight: 3,590-LBS. Had the Bugatti not been part of the test, it would have been GUSH, GUSH, GUSH all over the 911.

The third place Nissan GT-R Premium came with a 530-HP V6, 448 LB/FT or torque, and weighs 3,965-LBS.

Last year Road & Track tested an off the assembly line ZR-1 with the usual: 638-HP, 604 LB/FT torque, 3,365 LBS, with a $1231,425 price tag. Zero-to-sixty time was 3.5-seconds, 11.5@ 128.2 in the quarter-mile, and a limited 205-MPH. Pretty heady stuff… until now.

For the sake of a real-world conversation, let’s remove the $2,708,440 Bugatti. When a performance car costs 22.3 times as much as a ZR1, you can do nearly anything. But it’s really apples and watermelons here. As a production car, the ZR1 is very exotic, but it IS made on an assembly line, whereas the Bugatti is totally hand crafted. And what of the Porsche? It has 106-horsepower LESS than the ZR1,  but cost $39,275 more than the ZR1.

But it’s the Nissan GT-R Premium that should REALLY stick in your craw. Like the Porsche, the Nissan has 106-horsepower LESS than the ZR1 and weighs 600-pounds MORE than the ZR1. The Nissan should stick in the craw of the Porsche and Bugatti too, look at those prices! Plus, the Bugatti has over DOUBLE the horsepower of the Porsche and Nissan. Granted, the Bugatti has many other aspects in terms of exotic materials and uniqueness, but we’re just talking performance here.

Here’s what I’m getting at with regard to the C7 Corvette.  As of this writing (early October 2011), it looks like the C7 will be a 2014 model that will arrive in Fall of 2013 – two years from now. From a design standpoint, the layout and basic body shape are complete, but no hard details are known yet, only LOTS of speculation. Expectation for the car has never been higher and I’m sure that the Corvette designers are fully aware of how much will be expected from the new car. “No pressure!” right?

The ZR1 is the most powerful, versatile Corvette ever made. But I’m sure that back in ‘07 when Corvette engineers first started work on the car, AWD might have been on their wish list, but there was no way that Chevrolet was going to develop an AWD system. Plus, there were no other AWD production high performance sports cars on the market. No one was expecting AWD. If you recall, the supercharged LS9 was the big surprise.

An AWD system capable of handling a mega dose of horsepower and torque, the likes of which Corvette fans are accustomed to, is going to be complex and expensive. It’s bad enough that the current Corvette platform isn’t shared with any other GM car. Perhaps if the AWD system was also used in the next generation Camaro and Cadillac, it could get approved by the GM bean counters. Another way to cost justify such a system would be to make it standard on all C7 Corvettes. That would give even the base Corvette a substantial performance boost, let alone the performance versions.

You almost expect AWD to come from Porsche, but Nissan? And costing $31,475 LESS than the ZR1! Another OUCH! With C7 expectations sky high, where will cars such as the 911 Turbo S and Nissan GT-R be in two years? At this point, we don’t even know if there’ll be a Z06 or a ZR1, as the information lid is tighter than a nat’s ass at fly time. (nothing is tighter than that!) But my uninformed guess is that there WILL be a C7 Z06 and ZR1. As a 2014 model? That will probably be a stretch. Imagine the challenge of designing a totally new production car, working 98% of the bugs out, plus developing a Z06, PLUS a ZR1, all for the same year;’s release? Not likely.

We all know the saying, thanks to Neil Young, “Rust never sleeps.” The bar has been raised high – VERY high. If the two performance flagship Corvettes are to maintain their “world-class” status, all-wheel-drive is ESSENTIAL. Otherwise, stay on the porch because the big dogs will definitely eat you alive. So my question to Tag Juechter is, “Are you going to just take this?” Lets hope the answer is, “We know. Just you wait.” – Scott

Should the C7 2014 Corvette have All-Wheel Drive

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PS – You can catch my first C7 AWD essay HERE.

Here’s the above referenced Motor trend video where you can see how the AWD straps a hole shot on the Shelby and Z06 that they’re never able to recover from. it’s all about off the line SCOOT!

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