Dubbed 'LT1', the new 6.2 litre engine marks the fifth generation of Chevrolet’s ‘small block’ V8, which first saw duty in 265 cubic inch (4.3 litre) guise in the 1955 Corvette.
Significantly, the new engine uses direct injection and variable valve timing for the first time, while adding the existing active fuel management cylinder deactivation system already used in several GM models.
These high-tech features have been integrated into what is clearly still a overhead valve engine design, although the word 'pushrod' is suspiciously absent from Chevrolet’s press material.
Chevrolet also points out that the new engine is 18kg lighter than a competitor’s twin-turbo V8 engine (read BMW), yet delivers similar power - but does not specify its weight relationship to the current Generation IV engine.
This is the third time the LT1 moniker has been applied to a small block, having previously been applied as the hyphenated ‘LT-1’ in the early 70s, before returning sans hyphen to a version in the early 90s.
Before this, the LT1 will be unveiled within the C7 Corvette at the Detroit Auto Show in January, ahead of commencing production in September.
Chevrolet has claimed minimum outputs of 336kW/610Nm for the LT1, comparable with the 325kW/550Nm currently produced by the existing local top-line HSV GTS sedan.
Outputs also mark a significant increase over the existing entry Corvette’s 321kW/574Nm, yet promise improvements to fuel efficiency also.
"The Holy Grail for developing a performance car is delivering greater performance and more power with greater fuel economy and that's what we've achieved," Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter said.
"By leveraging technology, we are able to get more out of every drop of gasoline and because of that we expect the new Corvette will be the most fuel-efficient 450 horsepower car on the market."
Chevrolet also claims a sub 4.0 second 0-60MPH (96km/h) acceleration figure for the entry C7 Corvette, compared with the existing model’s 4.2 second official figure.
Holden ‘Small Block’ History
Australian Holdens used 307 cubic inch (5.0 litre) and 327 cubic inch (5.4 litres) versions of the engine from the HK model in 1968, before being discontinued locally in 350 cubic inch (5.7 litre) guise when the HQ model was replaced in 1974.
From this point, Holden relied solely on its own ‘Holden V8’ design in both 4.2 litre and 5.0 litre capacities, while several top-line HSV models used a 5.7 litre ‘stroker’ version.
The ‘Chevy’ small block returned to Holden’s lineup in 1998 with 5.7 litre petrol versions of the Holden Suburban 4WD wagon, before more mainstream use in 1999 with the VT II Commodore/WH Statesman using the all-aluminium ‘Generation III’ version.
The fourth generation small block was fitted to HSV Z Series models from 2004, before joining the VZ Commodore range from 2006.
Variations of this engine remain in use by V8 versions of the VEII Commodore and HSV E3 range.
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