We just got our best look yet at Chevrolet"s upcoming mid-engined C8 Corvette thanks to our intrepid spy photographers, who caught the new Vette testing at the Nürburgring wearing much less camouflage than we have previously seen. The shots revealed new details such as the shape of the front air intakes and side scoops, the design of the rear engine cover, and a new spoiler and diffuser at the back. Most intriguingly, the lack of camo led to another discovery: Thanks to the visual presence of cutlines on the roof, it looks like the mid-engined Corvette will have a targa-style lift-off roof panel.
If you look back at the Corvette"s history, the presence of a targa roof might not be that surprising. Almost every Corvette coupe since the 1968 C3 Stingray has had a removable roof of some kind, whether it be T-tops or a full targa panel. The only exceptions are the C6 Z06 and ZR1, which ditched the targa roof panels in the name of weight savings, and the C5 hardtops—officially called fixed-roof coupes—which had a notchback-style body and, yes, a fixed roof.
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And yet the C8 having a removable roof actually is surprising, because it renders a potential convertible variant almost moot. Many of the C8"s competitors, such as the Ferrari 488 and the McLaren 570S, come in multiple body styles, with the coupes being fixed hardtops and the droptop variants having multi-piece folding roofs with rooflines nearly identical to those of their coupe counterparts. While the current C7 Corvette is available as both a targa-roof coupe and a softtop convertible, the mid-engine design of the next Corvette would seemingly require a similar droptop solution to those exotics—which would be pointless if the standard C8 will have the targa panel.
The more we speculate, the muddier it gets. Although the C7"s roof panel neatly fits under the large rear hatch, the mid-engined Vette won"t have nearly as much cargo space. It looks like the roof panel might fit under the hood of the short front end, but that wouldn"t leave much room for actual cargo. And as we have previously reported, when the C8 makes its debut it will have a 6.2-liter pushrod V-8, with a flat-plane-crank 5.5-liter V-8 to follow later in naturally aspirated, twin-turbocharged, and hybridized all-wheel-drive forms. The latter powertrains will likely use much of the front cargo space for electric motors or additional cooling. There"s a chance that the mid-mounted V-8s will leave enough space for a rear cargo area, as in the Acura NSX, and that could solve the C8"s targa-panel storage problem.
It"s possible that more track-focused C8s will have a fixed roof. It also could be that Chevy will do a droptop C8 after all and come up with an interesting design solution to differentiate it from the coupe. But from what we"re seeing so far, the Corvette"s tradition of a lift-off roof panel appears to carry over to this most untraditional Corvette.
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