Once upon a time, the Chevy Corvette utilized some of the biggest and thirstiest engines in the world. But a new generation of performance engineers has created a new kind of performance car in the 2014 Chevy Corvette C7 “Stingray”, utilizing weight-saving materials and fuel-saving technologies in a light, powerful, and technologically impressive American supercar.
You might be asking why a green car blog is covering a car like the Chevy Corvette, with its 6.2 liter LT1 V8 engine and emphasis on performance over fuel economy. Simply put, the technology and methods used in the Corvette will likely trickle down throughout the lineup of GM vehicles sooner or later, and many of these technologies do have fuel ecnoomy in mind.
Let’s start with that shiny new LT1 engine, with its all-aluminum, lightweight construction, weighing just 465 pounds fully dressed. Anyone who has ever wrestled an old-school V8 engine can tell you this is one light engine. But GM didn’t stop there.
The LT1 engine has a suite of fuel-saving technologies including direct injection and Active Fuel Management, which shuts down four of the eight cylinders at highway speeds. Coupled with a new seven-speed manual transmission (or a six-speed auto with paddle-shifters), this helps the Corvette C7 achieve around 26 mpg highway, while producing at least 450 horsepower and 450 ft-lbs of torque. Such a feat must have seemed impossible just a few decades ago, but going forward, this will set a new standard for performance and efficiency.
But there’s more to this Corvette than a high-tech V8 engine. GM gave the C7 Corvette an all-new aluminum and magnesium frame, which is twice as stiff as the old steel frame, but still manages to weight almost 100 pounds less. GM also utilized lightweight carbon-fiber and composite body panels, which could help the Corvette C7 weigh less than 3,000 pounds when it hits dealership showrooms.
As a halo car for the Corvette brand, the new 2014 Corvette C7 points the way towards the future of all GM vehicles. After all, the Corvette was one of the first GM vehicles to utilize fuel injection, fiberglass, and other performance-orientated innovations that also helped fuel economy. With a new emphasis on efficiency, even among performance vehicles, we expect many of the innovations found on the Corvette C7 to trickle down to cheaper, more mass-market vehicles sooner rather than later.
For us gearheads who consider ourselves “green” as well, this is very good news indeed.