Only a few months have passed since we first serviced America’s track superstar, the Chevrolet Corvette Z06. Before we can even digest that spoonful of greatness, Chevy is serving up dessert: the hybrid-powered, 655-hp all-wheel-drive Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray. And now we can tell you what it’s like to be in it, at least from the passenger seat.
From 100 yards away, the Corvette E-Ray can easily be mistaken for the Corvette Z06. It shares the same body as the track-focused Z06 and even its massive tires. But as the E-Ray approaches, don’t confuse it with the screaming 670-hp Z06. Apart from the externally amplified hum of the 160-hp electric motor driving the front axle, the E-Ray spins almost silently. That would be Stealth mode, a pure electric mode that Chevrolet says can last up to five miles before the 1.1 kWh battery runs out, provided you’re sensitive with the accelerator. Beyond 45 mph or with a big push of the right pedal, the 495-hp 6.2-liter V-8 crunches to life and blends seamlessly into the equation.
A rainy, overcast day in January would normally be the biggest disappointment for showing off your new sports car, but for the all-wheel-drive Chevrolet and E-Ray, it’s a godsend. With Energy Integration engineer Stefan Frick at the wheel starting the launch control sequence—which now features Z06-like rpm adjustments—the V-8 gurgled and gurgled with excitement. The E-Ray exploded, the electric motor pulling while the rear tires scrambled for traction. There was an odd mix of the V-8’s pushrod roar and the noise of George Jetson’s Flying Car wafting through the cabin. Chevrolet claims the E-Ray will reach 60 mph in 2.5 seconds and cover the quarter mile in 10.5 seconds, making it potentially the fastest Corvette to roll off the Bowling Green, Kentucky production line. The electric motor kicks out the party at 150 mph, because that’s all its gearing allows. Chevrolet claims a top speed of over 180 mph.
Even though the E-Ray would flirt with its 4000 pound mass, on damp autocross tracks it still proved moveable. The huge Michelin Pilot Sport All-Season 275/30ZR-20 front and 345/25ZR-21 rear tires find surprising lateral stability. Even when loaded with standard carbon-ceramic brake rotors, longitudinal deceleration is felt when the seat belt is tightened across the chest. You read that right: The E-Ray was the first car to come standard with carbon-ceramic rotors and all-season tires. Oh, and that rear tire is the widest all-season known to man. For more grip, TPC-spec Michelin Pilot Sport Pilot 4S summer tires will be optional.
Frick cut the apex and dialed power. In these humid conditions, a rear-drive Corvette would have slipped and slid across the tarmac. With the help of the driven front axle and brake-based vectoring to shuffle torque to the wheels that need it most, the E-Ray slides out of corners with a surprising amount of coordinated thrust. The brilliant Chevrolet Performance Traction Management System is on deck and tuned specifically for E-Ray. And while there’s no dedicated Drift mode, we can confirm that the electrified Corvette will do with the best of them.
We’re eager to get our gloves on General Motors’ newest toy and test kit when it arrives this fall, starting at $104,295 for the coupe and $111,295 for the convertible.