Sometimes it's hard to understand General Motors' decision to take the eighth-generation Corvette mid-engined. It's easy to miss the clutch pedal, the muscle car antics of having the engine up front, and the classic long-nosed looks that defined Corvettes for seven generations. Those things about America's sports car seem impossible to replace, right up until you get behind the wheel of a C8. And that's no less true with the latest, electrified version: the 2024 Chevy Corvette E-Ray.
The hybrid E-Ray is simple on paper. Engine in the back, electric motor up front, battery in the middle. It feels that simple to drive. Put your foot down and it pulls from both ends. There's no reason to worry about your battery charge, all-wheel-drive status, or any other complication of having two different drivetrains in one high-performance car. The E-Ray just works and works very well. There are a few things that could use a little more polish—this is still technically a Chevy after all—but unlike other hybrid cars, this isn't a Rube Goldberg device. It pulls like an EV, sounds like a Corvette, and effortlessly puts a smile on your face, no matter the weather.
Yes, it's a hybrid. Just don't say "Prius."
|2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray Specs
|Base Price (as tested)
|6.2-liter V8 with a front single-motor electric drive unit | 1.9-kWh lithium-ion battery | 8-speed dual-clutch automatic | all-wheel drive
|655 (495 from V8 @ 6,450 rpm | 160 from electric motor)
|470 lb-ft from V8 @ 5,150 rpm | 125 lb-ft from electric motor
|3,774 pounds (coupe) | 3,856 pounds (convertible)
|12.5 cubic feet (both trunks combined)
|EPA Fuel Economy
|16 mpg city | 24 highway | 19 combined
|A hybrid Corvette may not sound right initially, but it all comes together behind the wheel.
The first thing you need to know about this car is that almost none of it was farmed out. The chief development engineer for the E-Ray goes all the way back to GM's first electric vehicle, the EV1. All of the power electronics were developed in-house. So was the drive unit and everything inside of it. The ultra-impressive battery cells—just three of the toast-sized pouches could handily jump-start a car—are one of the few things GM didn't make. They're from LG, made to the Corvette team's specifications.
This is all very important. The way this car is packaged, it couldn't have been done any other way. Held up beside a regular Corvette, the fact that the E-Ray is carrying a whole other drivetrain on board isn't perceptible by sitting in it, looking at it, or opening the two trunks. The magnesium-cased front drive unit sits behind the frunk, and the capacitor-like 1.9-kWh battery is nestled inside the car's spacious center tunnel.
The result is all of the Corvette you paid for, along with about 260 pounds more weight over a comparable Z06, with the coupe tipping the scales at 3,774 pounds dry. Standard carbon ceramic brakes and a lightweight lithium 12-volt battery were thrown in to bring this figure down, but if that's still too much, option the carbon fiber wheels. They'll save you another 40 pounds, for an extra $13,995.
This added weight isn't perceptible when driving the E-Ray, though, mostly because of the extra 160 horsepower and instant torque of the front electric motor. A launch to 60 mph takes 2.5 seconds and happens with all of the drama of internal combustion but none of the wheelspin. As a result, it feels more violent and exciting than any high-performance EV I have ever driven. Sure, electric motors can provide all of their torque instantly, but they can't provide all of their power that soon. Thanks to its eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, the E-Ray's 6.2-liter naturally aspirated V8 can provide all 495 of its hp soon after the lights turn green, and the electric motor fills in all of the gaps with a pleasant hum. Yes, the car's electric drive noise is synthesized through the speakers, but it plays a pleasant harmony to the real V8 rumble. Likewise, hearing it meant I knew I was putting down electric power. A useful fake noise, for once.
The launch is doubtlessly the party piece, but the really useful part about this car's performance is more nuanced. Lock it into fourth or fifth gear from a roll on the highway and it absolutely freight trains. At sprints from, say, 40 to 60 mph or 60 to 80 mph, it's damn near unbeatable. Likewise, unlike a full EV, the power doesn't fall off at interstate speeds. The 6.2-liter has plenty of ratios and just keeps pulling.
It's also a joy to drive, irrespective of straight-line performance. There may be more technology going on here than anyone could reasonably perceive, but all the basics are handled. The steering is tight and feels great. Despite the AWD, it's well-weighted, springy, and communicative. The ride is also excellent thanks to GM's latest magnetic ride control, which can make even the very tightly-sprung Z06 more than acceptable on rough roads. The noise, vibrations, and sensation of having a big V8 under your foot also make this car more fun and involved than any EV.
There's some magic going on here. I've been saying for a long time that hybrid performance cars have all the potential in the world to be more involving and exciting than their pure ICE or pure EV counterparts, and that shines through in the E-Ray. The Corvette team didn't just get to add two different drivetrains to America's sports car, they got to decide how they interact, which is really where the special stuff happens. The responsiveness going on here between the instant gear changes and equally spontaneous application of electric power is unlike the hybrids and PHEVs you're used to driving. This is a performance machine. That interaction isn't supposed to blend into the background, it's meant to be in your face.
All of this becomes most clear on a race track, which is a shame, in a way. The bottom line is that this thing has almost as much power as a Z06, and as a result, there aren't many safe places on public roads where I could stretch its legs. Once off public streets, it was obvious just how carefully tuned the entire package was. I just couldn't catch this car doing something funny or having a moment of confusion in sticky situations. The hybrid power was always applied how I wanted it to, and the regen was frankly barely noticeable even in Charge Plus mode where the E-Ray is trying very hard to recuperate electric power wherever it can.
And it's all very practical. The car further takes advantage of its onboard electric drivetrain by offering two ICE-less drive modes, known as Stealth and Shuttle. Shuttle mode is intended to make moving a car around a driveway or into a garage a little easier. Speeds are hard-limited to 15 mph and it's not meant for use on the road. Stealth is far more interesting. It allows for speeds up to 45 mph if you're gentle on the gas, with a range of a few miles to quietly leave your neighborhood. After the charge runs low or if you dip into the throttle too much, the engine kicks on seamlessly.
The two silent settings are selected by turning the car on without the engine and then selecting the desired electric drive mode. Here's the downside: Neither of these modes can be accessed after the car's engine starts without cycling the ignition. In other words, you can't go back into electric mode after driving outside of it. Engineers told me this was because doing so would mean a loss of creature comforts like air conditioning, although they are considering adding the ability to bump down to Stealth while driving in the future if customers ask for it. That being said, don't expect A/C if that feature arrives.
That's the most obvious fault of the car, but there are some other small things. For $100,000, you get a lot of road noise on the highway. There is no extra sound deadening in the E-Ray versus a regular Stingray. A layer of Dynamat would've been nice for the money. Some of the hybrid controls and displays can take a little getting used to as well.
By far my biggest gripe is a little more personal. I understand that the people who will buy these cars just want them to work. Listen, they do that. This car's hybrid system can't be caught doing anything strange, at least as far as I could tell. But we have two separate drivetrains here. Instead of menus to try and stare at while the car puts down ICE and electric power, I would've liked more in the way of the driver being involved in how electric power and regenerative braking are applied.
These things can be adjusted on the fly, and if I want my E-Ray to be on maximum regen attack all the time, I should be able to do that. If I want to try and save electric power and set a limit to how much I'm putting to the wheels, that should be my choice. The fact that you can't take this thing back into EV mode because it might get a little hot in the interior kind of encapsulates that. We get an entirely separate drivetrain and all of the cool factor associated with that. Let me play around with it a little bit more. I want that control.
Admittedly that might just be my personal preference, though, and none of these things are dealbreakers. Especially for the cost. The E-Ray is easily the cheapest hybrid supercar out there, and it's quicker than many of them too. For God's sake, it's as quick to 60 mph as the McLaren P1 but for less than one-tenth of the price, not accounting for inflation. It's the real deal when it comes to this kind of vehicle. It's not confusing or complicated. Heck, they're building these things in Kentucky.
The 2024 Chevy Corvette E-Ray is, in short, the all-weather high-performance Corvette a lot of people have been waiting for. Keep in mind that for the $106,595 the E-Ray starts at, you can't even get a base Porsche 911. Furthermore, the layout just works and is a perfect fit for the C8 platform. GM's engineers didn't bother with complicated clutches, exhaust-muffling electric turbos, motors on every conceivable rotating shaft, or anything like that. The engine is in the back now. There's room for an electric motor up front. Let's do that.
Thank goodness they did.
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