While the very notion of a Corvette with fewer than eight cylinders may send chills up the spines of many a red-blooded Chevrolet fan, the folks over at Popular Mechanics seem to think that changing market conditions (read: higher fuel prices) and increasingly stringent emissions regulations may force GM to look at alternative powerplants for the mighty 'Vette.
It may be heresy to some, but plonking a force-fed V6 under the Corvette's shapely bonnet does make sense on at least a few levels. A turbocharged version of GM's direct-injected 3.6-litre DOHC V6 should be more than capable of equalling the 298kW output of the 6-litre LS2 V8, while more power could be eked out with larger turbos and a lower compression ratio. Fuel consumption when off boost can be kept to sensible levels too, meaning that muscle car fans will still be able to get their hedonistic thrills without feeling quite so much pain at the pump.
The good news is that V8 engines probably won't disappear from the Corvette's spec sheet, as the hi-po Z06 and ZR1 should continue to fly the bent-eight flag for the next generation. However displacement may drop from the Z06's 7 litres and the ZR1's 6.2 litres to around the 5-litre mark, and turbocharging and variable valve timing may be employed to make up the difference.
While PM's article is entirely speculative, GM refuses to discuss any future plans for the Corvette, meaning that - for now - the C7 Corvette is very much a blank slate. A replacement for the current C6 is expected sometime in 2010, so we should get a definitive word on what GM has in store for the Corvette over the coming year. In the meantime, click the link below to read Popular Mechanics' article and don't forget to give us your thoughts in the comments field below.