Clean Slate

Also from Issue 81

  • 60th Anniversary Salute: C4
  • Buyer’s Guide: C4
  • Supercharged 2003 Convertible
  • 1973 COPO Coupe
  • GM Heritage Center
  • Guldstrand 1965 Restomod
  • Profile: Gib Hufstader
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Powertrain

We’ve already discussed the Stingray’s LT1 engine at length in a previous issue so we’ll keep it brief here, but suffice it to say that the 6.2-liter V8 is a technological tour de force. It incorporates direct injection, continuously variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation in the pursuit of lower fuel consumption, higher output and better torque delivery. The Active Fuel Management system automatically alters the exhaust note for a seamless transition between V8 and V4 modes.

These sophisticated technologies do come at a price, however, as the LT1 is both longer and heavier than the current LS3 engine. The C7’s one-inch wheelbase increase was made to accommodate the longer engine while still maintaining optimal weight distribution (the cockpit is no larger). Actually, weight distribution has been improved, with Z51 models now benefiting from a slight rear bias of 51 percent. Still, thanks to the Chevy small-block V8’s time-honored cam-in-block layout, the LT1 is lighter and more compact than a comparable overhead-cam V8.

Though GM has yet to provide the Stingray’s final engine-output figures (the 450 hp and 450 lbs-ft of torque numbers are estimates) or curb weight, it does claim that the car has a better power-to-weight ratio than a Porsche 911 Carrera S, the car it benchmarked for much of the C7’s development. It also claims that the Stingray will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in less than four seconds.

The LT1 is paired with either a 7-speed manual or an updated version of the existing 6-speed automatic. The manual’s extra cog was added in the interest of increasing fuel efficiency, but the new gearbox also features Active Rev Matching, which is aimed at improving both downshifts and upshifts. It is defeatable via steering-wheel paddles (the same ones are used on the paddle-shift automatic) for those who prefer to perform their own rev matching, though Juechter says that even the most accomplished track drivers will find themselves impressed with the system.

The Z51 package includes an electronic limited-slip differential. Using a unique algorithm which factors in vehicle speed, steering input and throttle position, it continuously varies the torque split between the rear wheels, going from completely open to full engagement in tenths of a second. As a result, the electric unit offers of the benefits of a traditional mechanical LSD without any of its drawbacks. According to Vehicle Systems Engineer Mike Bailey, “The eLSD can improve traction accelerating out of corners, improve stability on the highway and enhance steering turn-in and responsiveness.” Says Juechter, “I was stunned by the difference the electronic diff makes.”

While the Stingray will no doubt post some impressive performance and fuel-economy figures when it undergoes independent testing near the time of its late-summer release, Juechter claims that was not the point of Stingray development. “This car is not just about the numbers,” he says, “it’s about the way it drives. We transformed the driving experience in every way. The first time you get behind the wheel, you’re going to know that Corvettes have changed forever.”

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