Too late now to reverse course.
The new C8 Corvette will be shown in full in just a few weeks’ time. We’ll be standing by on July 18 to bring you all of the details and plenty of photos. In the meantime, there’s not much left to discuss until we know the car’s specifics; it’s essentially a waiting game. However, former Corvette ride and handling engineer Jim Mero was a recent guest on the Overcrest podcast and, via GM Authority, had some very interesting thoughts regarding the first-ever mid-engine Corvette. "I worry about the mid-engine (Corvette),” he said.
Mero’s words carry a lot of weight. For starters, he served in his Corvette role for 34 years. He also lapped the C7 and Z06 Corvettes around the Nurburgring for some unofficial lap times. He was also a member of the C8 development team prior to his retirement.
Before a decision was made for a mid-engine Corvette, the development team rented the best mid-engined supercars at the time, including the Ferrari 458 Italia, Audi R8, and Acura NSX, as well as a few rear-engined Porsche 911s. Mero said that during benchmarking tests, the current Corvette Z06 "smoked” those supercars. Obviously this made some at GM begin to second guess why it was necessary to drop the front-engine layout.
However, those who had doubts were the engineers while the executives were keen to go with mid-engine. It’s the executives who control the money and make final decisions. Why did they prefer mid-engine? Because they preferred the way a mid-engine car feels at driving speeds well below its limit. Another deciding factor was that the view from the driver’s seat was better than the C7, or any other previous Corvette because of the long hood.
A counter argument Mero made was that the mid-engine layout offers less utility. The C8 will still be able to fit a golf bag, but its "frunk” will be very small. C8 engineers had to "reinvent the wheel,” according to Mero in terms of perfecting the car’s formula. For example, the C8 will not offer a perfect 50/50 weight distribution. Understeer is also likely to be an issue.
Mero’s bottom line point in the interview is that a mid-engined C8 was not really necessary to achieve performance goals, but does believe it’ll be "crazy popular.” And that, right there, is what executives want. Remember, the current Corvette does not appeal much to younger buyers and the layout switch will hopefully change that. It’s a big gamble and we’ll find out soon whether it’ll pay off.