Believe it or not, some Corvette fans aren’t thrilled when Chevy messes with their favorite sports car recipe. While moving the small block V-8 from front to center helped unlock previously unachievable levels of performance, fundamentalists were angry that the bow tie brand went too far with the C8 generation.
Now those purists will likely be even more irritated by the arrival of the 2024 Chevy Corvette E-Ray, which is adding fuel (and electrons) to the fire as the first Vette with all-wheel drive and a hybrid powertrain. By combining those new traits with the heart of the regular V-8 Stingray and the Z06’s track-focused wide body, the E-Ray redefines the identity of America’s flagship sports car and sets it on a radical new path.
The Most Revolutionary Vette
The C8 generation, which debuted for the 2020 model year, broke the Corvette mold by adopting a mid-engined layout. The introduction of the all-wheel-drive hybrid variant changed the game again and was part of the plan all along — something we discovered a while back. With the electrified Vette finally revealed to the world, we now know exactly what it was all about.
The E-Ray is not meant to be a replacement for the Grand Sport, but instead billed as the ultimate grand-touring model meant to find new ways (pun intended). It also finally gave Chevy a season four foe for all-wheel-drive Porsche 911s and other high-end rivals who don’t have to hide in their garages in the slickest of conditions.
The heart of the E-Ray is a 495-hp version of the 6.2-liter pushrod V-8 it inherited from the Stingray. Known as the LT2, the engine drives the rear wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, only there’s now a front-mounted electric motor with 160 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque. The drive unit is said to be the size of a 12-pack, with magnesium casting and a special E-Ray oil cooler located behind the driver’s side front bumper. Overall the hybrid setup produces 655 hp and is an all-wheel-drive system.
Chevy says the E-Ray’s electrical components add about 300 pounds to the curb weight of the Corvette Z06 coupe and convertible; hybrid is available in both body styles. Based on our own measurements of the 3666-pound Z06 coupe and 3799-pound Z06 convertible, the E-Rays will likely tip our scales around 3966 and 4099 pounds respectively. It also means the E-Ray droptop is the first production Corvette to beat two tons — making it the heaviest model ever.
Despite the extra weight, the E-Ray’s all-wheel-drive traction and instantaneous torque contribute to Chevy’s claim that it’s the fastest factory-built Vette ever. The company says the coupe will reach 60 mph in 2.5 seconds, which is only a tenth of the 2.6 ticks we achieved with the price-studded Z06. E-Ray also claims a quarter mile time of 10.5 seconds, identical to our Z06 test. For those trying to run at top speed around the track, the electric motor is steered from the equation above 150 mph (Chevy claims the E-Ray has a top speed of around 180 mph).
The First Battery Powered Corvette
A small 1.1 kWh lithium-ion battery powers the E-Ray permanent magnet synchronous AC motor; A separate 12-volt lithium-ion battery supports the stop-start function of the V-8 and other accessories. The main package is entirely contained in the central tunnel that separates the two passengers. Chevy says it weighs about 100 pounds, with its 80 pockets supplied by LG but assembled by GM.
The tiny battery is also the reason why the E-Ray isn’t a plug-in hybrid. Chevy says it’s designed to quickly charge and discharge itself. The amount of electric assist varies between the six selectable drive modes, and there’s also a special hybrid function called Charge+ which can be activated to maximize the battery’s state of charge, which is said to be particularly useful when undertaking longer race tracks.
Pure electric driving is very limited, with Chevy estimating a range of up to five miles in E-Ray’s exclusive Stealth mode. The latter only works up to 45 mph or until the driver engages the petrol engine with the throttle. The main benefit of Stealth mode is respect for others, with the ability to quietly exit surroundings without the sound of gas engines.
It should be noted that the electric motor does not work in reverse. It has an open differential and uses brake-based torque vectoring. It’s also meant to optimize performance over efficiency, so while the hybrid should be the most gas-efficient Corvette at the pump, don’t expect the Prius’ level of fuel economy when its EPA ratings are finally out.
In Stealth mode, the Corvette hybrid gives off a futuristic buzz for safety reasons and maybe because it sounds cool. Even when the vociferous V-8 is engaged, the two sounds combine to create a guttural, sci-fi melody in the cabin, as we learned during the brief, albeit wild, ride.
The closed track experience at GM’s Milford Proving Grounds showcased the E-Ray’s ability to pull off some incredible drifts (though there’s no dedicated drift mode). Also missing is a line-lock feature, but it has the Z06’s custom launch controls, and an engineer assured us it can do burnout.
Exclusive Corvette E-Ray Content
The E-Ray’s unique hybrid powertrain is accompanied by a number of exclusive features as well as hardware typically reserved for the hardcore Z06. The hybrid not only inherits the track-oriented car’s big hips, which are 3.6 inches wider than the Stingray, but also comes standard with carbon-ceramic brakes (currently part of the Z07’s $8995 performance package on the Z06).
To promote its four-season capability, each E-Ray pairs the Z07-class stopper with all-season Michelin Pilot Sport tires measuring 275/30ZR-20 front and 345/25ZR-21 rear (stickier Pilot Sport 4S summer rubber is optional). One of our favorite facts about the Vette hybrid is its massive rear, which is 345 sections wide all season. Chevy says they’re the largest ever fitted to a production car, and we can’t prove otherwise.
Supporting the E-Ray’s exciting wheel-and-tyre combination are standard magnetorheological dampers. The front is part of a reworked suspension setup in which the shock tower is raised and link struts are added to accommodate the half-axle from the electric motor to the front wheel. Since this was all planned during the development of the C8 Corvette, we’re told this doesn’t impact suspension travel or hood height. The front axle lift system also remains optional.
The E-Ray’s front-motor setup also barely affects the Corvette’s front boot space, with cargo volume said to be reduced by less than a cubic foot. Likewise with the car interior which is almost identical to the non-hybrid model. The most notable changes are the unique displays that can now be seen on the gauge cluster and center touchscreen, including one dedicated to Stealth mode as well as dedicated pages for power output and other performance metrics. Buttons for the start-stop system and the Charge+ function were also added on the side of the center console near the driver’s thigh area.
When to Expect Expensive E-Ray
The 2024 Corvette E-Ray will go on sale later this year, with the base 1LZ coupe starting at $104,295. That’s almost $40K more than the base price 2023 Stingray coupe and $7000 less than the 2023 Z06 coupe. The E-Ray convertible costs an additional $7000, with prices starting at $111,295 for the 1LZ trim.
Of course, there are plenty of other options that Chevy hasn’t set a price on yet. The list of available add-ons includes a special E-Ray Electric Blue line that runs the length of the car, carbon fiber exterior and interior trim, multiple seat options, and carbon fiber wheels. There’s also a Performance package which — while not quite as extreme as the winged Z07 kit — adds the aforementioned summer tires.
As long as there are people who hate change, there will be people who balk at the hybrid all-wheel-drive Corvette. Well, the electrified E-Ray is officially on its way, and we’re hoping a more powerful version of Zora is on its way—no matter what the haters say.