The mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette has been spotted dozens of times over the past two years, but it’s almost always caught testing near GM’s Milford Proving Grounds in Michigan. It appears the C8 is now starting to venture farther from home, as this prototype caught by our own features editor Christian Seabaugh shows. What’s perhaps most interesting about this chance encounter is where the mid-engine Corvette was caught: running the same test loop MotorTrend uses for our Car of the Year program.
The upcoming Chevy sports car was captured on our Tehachapi road test loop, not far from the Hyundai–Kia Proving Ground in California City, California, where we conduct the bulk of our Car of the Year testing. Automakers routinely test in California’s Mojave Desert for its reliably dry, warm climate (though it happened to rain today), but we can’t help but wonder if the Corvette team is here practicing for one specific test. Namely, ours.
Our Tehachapi loop is well known to manufacturers, and it’s not uncommon to spot prototypes running the route in advance of Car of the Year testing. If Chevy is prepping for COTY consideration, then that means the mid-engine Corvette will start around or below our price cutoff. To be eligible for Car of the Year, a vehicle can cost no more than four times the average transaction price of a new car, which means the cutoff is about $144,000 this year. Pricing for the mid-engine Corvette remains unknown, but for reference, the range-topping C7 Corvette ZR1 starts at $122,095.
There’s a lot we still don’t know about the mid-engine Corvette, but we do know a few things. We recently got to see the car’s upscale interior, which features a unique single-file button layout on the center console. We also saw its key fob in leaked images, which could hint at a power retractable Targa roof option. Drivetrain choices are still unknown, but a pair of dual-overhead-cam V-8 engines has been rumored.
Is it presumptuous of us to think that Chevy is running the mid-engine Corvette on this remote desert road in preparation for Car of the Year? Perhaps. But if the mid-engine Corvette team was gunning for the Golden Calipers, this is how it would study for the test.