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Will The Corvette E-Ray Be Any Good?

When I woke up today to the news that the first electrified Corvette had debuted, I was genuinely pumped to read all about it. But as I dove deep into Motor1.com’s article that chronicles this car’s arrival, my emotions leveled off. After reading about the Corvette E-Ray’s development for months, if not years, the product put before me was different from what I expected.

I’ll be honest, I was hoping for a plug-in hybrid version of the Corvette. The E-Ray is not that; rather, it’s a traditional hybrid with no extended all-electric driving range. It does have a Stealth mode that allows all-electric propulsion up to 45 miles per hour, but that’s a far cry from the 45 miles of EV range I was hoping for.

After digesting the Corvette E-Ray’s debut, I’m left with the question of whether or not it’s any good, at least on paper. I think I have an answer for that, but not until after a good old pros and cons list about the car we ended up getting.

Pros

  • First electrified Corvette
    • Even if it’s not a PHEV, the E-Ray still gets point for bringing electrification to the Corvette line.
  • Quickest Corvette of all time
    • It can go 0-60 miles per hour in 2.5 seconds, which is quicker than the more powerful Corvette Z06.
  • Bargain price
    • Reaching new levels of affordability has been the C8 Corvette’s calling card, and the E-Ray offers everything the Acura NSX Type S does (and more), for over $60,000 less.
  • All-wheel drive
    • This one can’t be underestimated for its effect on both performance and handling, as well as everyday drivability.

Cons

  • Not a plug-in hybrid
    • Being a PHEV would’ve pushed the envelope far more than choosing a traditional hybrid setup.
  • No extended all-electric range
    • With no extended EV range, the hybrid powertrain’s effect on fuel efficiency will be far smaller.
  • True hybrid supercars are PHEV
    • See the McLaren Artura, Ferrari SF90 Stradale and 296 GTB, and older hyper cars like the Porsche 918 Spyder, Ferrari LaFerrari, and McLaren P1.
  • Doesn’t push the envelope
    • With the Stingray and Z06, each iteration of the C8 platform has set new standards for the class – can the E-Ray claim the same?

The number of pros and cons are equal, but simple arithmetic never tells the whole story. There are some points on each list that deserve further dissection because of their outsized impact.

My expectation, or rather my hope, for a plug-in electric Corvette wasn’t met. While that’s my first con, what we got still impresses me… an awful lot.

It’s not a plug-in hybrid, but the E-Ray probably benefits from going without the extra weight and complexity that PHEV powertrains require. Both of those negatives would no doubt affect performance and handling, perhaps losing the E-Ray its crown of quickest Corvette and establishing a reputation for it of being the worst handling C8 you can buy.

And no, there’s no extended all-electric range for the E-Ray, and that’s a bummer, but there will be a positive effect on fuel efficiency nonetheless. Chevy hasn’t released fuel efficiency figures for the E-Ray yet, but if it beats the entry-level Stingray’s ratings of 16 miles per gallon in the city, 24 on the highway, and 19 combined, it’ll be huge news. To be both the quickest and most fuel efficient variant of the Corvette would be a remarkable coup for the E-Ray.

Adding AWD instantly makes the E-Ray more interesting to me.

Lastly, there’s a Pro on my list that hasn’t gotten enough attention in all this talk about an electrified Corvette: the fact that it’s all-wheel-drive! If you thought the switch from a front-engine to a mid-engine platform was the biggest Corvette shakeup you’d see in a lifetime, let me introduce you to the first Corvette with AWD.

Adding AWD instantly makes the E-Ray more interesting to me. The extra grip it adds has no doubt played a big part in allowing the E-Ray to outrace the Z06 to 60 mph. AWD will also increase the Corvette’s drivability in everyday scenarios like rain, snow, and even some light off-roading if you’re forced to park it in the grass. This will improve the Corvette’s already established reputation of being the world’s best everyday supercar.

It’s won me over with its price, performance, and new-found AWD capability.

The E-Ray’s AWD system is also my favorite type: an electric through-the-road all-wheel-drive system. The car’s V8 engine, the same one you get in the standard Stingray model, drives the rear wheels like always, but an electric motor drives the front wheels. The two axles aren’t connected by a driveshaft and don’t employ complicated clutches to divide their mechanical power. Rather, a computer directs traffic and simply tells the front-mounted motor when to join the fun with its extra power and grip. It’s so simple and elegant – a triumph of software over hardware.

What it comes down to is that I’m happy an electrified Corvette is here, even if the E-Ray’s specs don’t match what I originally had in mind. It’s won me over with its price, performance, and new-found AWD capability.

Based on what we’ve heard, there will be yet more Corvette variants in the near future. Who knows, a plug-in hybrid version with LaFerrari-like credentials could be right around the corner.

Read the full article here

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