Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray hybrid brings 4WD, unprecedented pace

4 months, 1 week ago - 19 January 2023, autocar
Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray hybrid brings 4WD, unprecedented pace
First electrified Corvette adds an electric motor on the front axle for Ferrari 296-baiting performance

The latest Chevrolet Corvette matches a roaring 6.2-litre V8 petrol engine with an electric motor, making it the first four-wheel-drive 'Vette and the fastest-accelerating yet.

Named the Corvette E-Ray, the long-awaited hybrid supercar has been revealed exactly 70 years since the original Corvette took to the stage for a debut at the Motorama exhibition in New York.

It has been conceived “to be the Corvette owners can arrive in anywhere, no matter the season”, highlighting the increased traction of a driven front axle and the option of a removable roof.

Chevrolet also claimed it's the first sports car to pair a naturally aspirated V8 with an electric motor.

Direct rivals are few and far between, but the Ferrari 296 GTB and McLaren Artura each use twin-turbocharged V6 engines for their hybrid powertrains, and the Ferrari SF90’s electrified V8 is blown as well.

The V8 in question is the same 6.2-litre small-block that powers the standard Chevrolet Corvette Stingray - revolutionary in its own right for making the switch from a front- to mid-engined layout.

In the E-Ray, its 495bhp and 470lb ft of torque (sent to the rear axle through an eight-speed automatic gearbox) is supplemented by 160bhp and 125lb ft from the electric motor at the front, giving a combined 655bhp.

This makes the hybrid the fastest Corvette to yet make production, with Chevrolet claiming a 0-60mph time of just 2.5sec and saying it can cover a quarter-mile in just over 10.5sec.

That makes the E-Ray roughly as quick in a straight line as the Ferrari 296 GTB, yet it's about a third of the price of Maranello's latest hybrid, at $104,295 (£85,000).

It's expected that the E-Ray will be offered in right-hand-drive guise and exported to the UK, as is the standard Corvette, but Chevrolet has yet to confirm this.

The American manufacturer has also touted the competitive dynamics offered by the new hybrid.

Chief engineer Tadge Juechter said: "Corvettes must provide an exhilarating driving experience on backroads and tracks, and [the] E-Ray nails it. The electrification technology enhances the feeling of control in all conditions, adding an unexpected degree of composure.

The car's so-called eAWD system is said to be "constantly learning the road surface" and adjusting the deployment of power to all four wheels according to driver input and road conditions, with the electric motor contributing more power in slippery environments or "spirited driving" scenarios.

Power for the electrified element of the powertrain is stored in a small 1.9kWh lithium ion battery, which is topped up via regenerative braking.

Chevrolet hasn't given an electric-only range but has said the E-Ray can be driven at up to 45mph with the engine off in its new Stealth Mode - one of six driving modes offered, each of which gives varying degrees of electrical assistance. 

The electric motor can also be used at a cruise to bolster the E-Ray's reserves when the engine is running on only four cylinders to save fuel.

Clues to the E-Ray's electrified innards are limited to a selection of bespoke wheel designs and paint schemes. Generally it's largely indistinguishable from the top-rung Corvette Z06, which until now was the fastest model in the range. 

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