Spy photographers have snapped two C8 Corvette prototypes prowling Michigan roads, the coupe sprouting a pair of funky tailpipes from its rear corners. The pipes are the kind used for emissions testing required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and one of its overseas equivalents, the European Environment Agency. That fact, and some loose lips from reported inside sources, have led some to believe that the base Corvette Stingray is due for a power upgrade to an even 500 horses in the near future. That would be at least five horses over the current model, which makes 490 hp in untouched spec and 495 hp when optioned with the Z51 Performance Package. It’s not clear if the 500 would be the new bog standard or need the optional upgrade. However, a Mid Engined Corvette Forum member in Germany named Ace stepped in with some CSI enhancing to solve the mystery, and Ace says the matter “has nothing to do with getting more power.”
A picture-heavy post shows the headlights and taillights on the silver and white Corvette prototypes captured so far are from the European-spec Corvette. Both sets of lights are fitted with Europe’s clear reflectors instead of our amber units, and the brake lights illuminate the European way, not as U.S.-market Corvettes do. What’s the EU-spec tester doing here? Preparing for the introduction of additional mandatory safety equipment in 2024, according to Ace. Regulators on The Continent want all new cars to have “mandatory emergency braking, emergency lane assist and an interface that allows later installation of alcohol level measurement devices,” among other things. Those features will change the curb weight of the base model, potentially changing emissions, hence the testing.
Further investigation by Corvette Blogger fills out more of the picture. When the Corvette E-Ray hybrid configurator leaked, sleuths deduced a button on the steering wheel represented the addition of forward collision alert and maybe adaptive cruise control to the lineup. These features are enabled by the same technologies controlling the automatic emergency braking headed to Europe. OEM supplier Bosch makes a variety of driver assistance systems, and its engineers have been spotted testing Corvettes in Europe that aren’t the E-Ray. If every Corvette is going to get new safety tech in Europe, it’s possible GM will spread that love to the U.S. audience as well.
And there’s this: Just because this testing isn’t only about a power upgrade doesn’t mean there won’t be a power upgrade. Stay tuned for 2024.