Only a few months have passed since we first had our first serving of America’s track superstar, the Chevrolet Corvette Z06. Before we could even digest that dollop of greatness, Chevy is serving up dessert: the hybrid-powered, all-wheel-drive 655-hp Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray. And we can now tell you what it’s like to be in it, at least from the passenger’s seat.
From 100 yards, the Corvette E-Ray could easily be mistaken for a Corvette Z06. It shares the same body as the track-focused Z06 and even its massive tires. But as the E-Ray approaches, it’s not to be confused with the shrieking 670-hp Z06. Aside from the externally amplified hum of the 160-hp electric motor that powers the front axle, the E-Ray rolls up nearly silent. That would be Stealth mode, a pure-electric mode that Chevrolet says can last up to five miles before the 1.1-kWh battery is empty, provided you’re delicate with the accelerator. Beyond 45 mph or with a big push of the right pedal, the 495-hp 6.2-liter V-8 crackles to life and seamlessly blends into the equation.
A rainy and overcast January day would typically be the biggest letdown for showing off your new sports car, but for Chevrolet and the all-wheel-drive E-Ray, it’s a blessing. With Energy Integration engineer Stefan Frick behind the wheel initiating the launch control sequence—which now features rpm adjustability like the Z06—the V-8 gurgles and chugs with excitement. The E-Ray blasts off the line, the electric motor pulling while the rear tires scurry for traction. There’s a weird blend of pushrod V-8 roar and George Jetson’s Flying Car noise broadcasting 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 quickest Corvette to roll off the Bowling Green, Kentucky, production line. The electric motor exits the party at 150 mph, as that’s all its gearing will allow. Chevrolet claims the top speed is above 180 mph.
Even though the E-Ray will flirt with 4000 pounds of mass, on a damp autocross course it proved to still have the moves. The enormous 275/30ZR-20 front and 345/25ZR-21 rear Michelin Pilot Sport All-Season tires find a surprising amount of lateral stability. Even when taxed by the standard carbon-ceramic brake rotors, the longitudinal deceleration is felt as the seatbelt tightens across the chest. You read that correctly: the E-Ray is the first car to come standard with both carbon-ceramic rotors and all-season tires. Oh, and those rear tires are the widest all-seasons known to man. For more grip, TPC-spec Michelin Pilot Sport Pilot 4S summer tires will be optional.
Frick clips an apex and rolls on the power. In these damp conditions, a rear-drive Corvette would slip and slide across the asphalt. With the help of the driven front axle and brake-based vectoring to shuffle torque to the wheel that needs it the most, the E-Ray drives off the corner with a surprising amount of coordinated thrust. Chevrolet’s brilliant Performance Traction Management system is on deck and tuned specifically for the E-Ray. And though there’s not a specific Drift mode, we can confirm the electrified Corvette will hoon it with the best of them.
We’re anxious to get our mitts on General Motors’ newest toy and get the test gear strapped to it when it arrives this fall, starting at $104,295 for the coupe and $111,295 for the convertible.