There’s a lot riding on the new Corvette

X Scalper

This is a lot to put on the fenders of one car, but if the new Corvette, with its midengine layout, delivers the goods and elevates Chevrolet’s long-running sports car to world class in every standard of measurement, it just might get people thinking differently about Chevrolet and GM.

On rare occasions, one vehicle can do that for a company. A recent example: The sixth-generation Hyundai Sonata, with its edgy styling, upper-class interior and ample equipment, proved to be a monster hit for the Korean automaker. That car won its share of buyers from Toyota and Honda. Another example: The Volvo XC90 propelled the Swedish automaker into direct competition with Mercedes-Benz, Audi and others and signaled that Volvo had broken from its predictable past.

That’s what GM desperately needs today, and the new Corvette is the company’s best shot.

Think about this: When was the last time any GM division offered a car that consumers truly dreamed about, lusted after, saved up for and just had to own? It’s been a long, long time — probably dating to GM’s muscle car days of Pontiac GTOs, Oldsmobile 442s and Buick Grand Nationals –since GM really knocked one into the center field seats.

The eighth-generation Corvette, to be revealed July 18, could change that. It could be the car that proves once and for all that GM can still check all the important boxes with one vehicle: sophisticated engineering and styling; all aspects of performance; comfort; equipment; a world-class, no-excuses interior; and, most of all, value.

Unlike previous Corvettes, the next Vette should have the technical pedigree to appeal to buyers of high-priced, mostly European sports and exotic cars. For just the third time in GM’s history, a regular production car will have the engine behind the driver. (The Corvair and Fiero were the other two.) A sports car, the next Corvette likely won’t sell in high volumes — few sports cars do these days. And the number of parts shared with other vehicles is likely very few. So, it might not make much profit for GM.

But this, in my view, should be the Corvette’s mission: It should set the pace for the company. There has to be a little bit of Corvette in everything GM does. You might feel it in the way a Cadillac turns. You might hear it in the way a GMC Denali engine sounds with the throttle opened wide. You might see some of the safety technology in a Buick. Corvette, as others have said, should show the best of everything GM can do.

This Corvette, then, will likely draw in customers for test drives who would never have considered any previous model or anything except possibly a truck from GM. There’s no telling what could happen if they like what they see.

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