Why the Mid-Engined Corvette Won’t be a Corvette…

Because it’s going to be a Cadillac.

Last week conjecture broke; finally, after 50 years of wild speculation and even wilder concepts, the mid-engine Corvette would finally reach approval sometime during 2016.

This week more conjecture says not quite. Thanks to a well placed source it’s not going to be a Corvette at all. And if you think about it from a branding perspective, if it’s not going to be a Corvette what could it be but a Cadillac?

First things first it can’t be a Chevrolet because if it won’t be a Corvette how can it be a Chevrolet? Buick. Really, so Buick gets the halo car and totally undermines Johan de Nysschen’s Manhattan project? Opel doesn’t have the cache, ditto Vauxhall and Holden is irrelevant outside of Oceania. Sorry.

So Cadillac.

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They moved away from home to define themselves, they’re making themselves relevant again, they’re making themselves relevant globally and most importantly they sound committed to building products capable of doing just. It’s straight out of the Audi playbook- which I’m sure Johan knows all too well from his time at Audi USA.

When Audi announced their intention to build a mid-engined sportscar back in 2005 the rest of their lineup was, ah, frumpy. Sure they had the S4, but aside from that the rest of their lineup were mildly disguised Volkswagens that pushed power to all four corners. It wasn’t until the arrival of the R8 that Audi’s intentions were taken seriously by competitors and consumers.

After the R8’s debut, Audi went on the war path, redesigning every single model they sold while adding a few more to the stable along the way. Audi developed their own cut cookie face and gave all their cars LED running lights to match the R8.

Cadillac on the other hand has gone about it in reverse. They’ve put in the wrench time revamping the Cadillac stable. The ATS, CTS and CT6 are perhaps the best cars to ever wear the Cadillac badge but they suffer from perception. Could an exclusively Cadillac halo car shift that perception?

I’m betting yes.

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When speaking to De Nyschen back in November, Scott Burgess from Motor Trend straight up asked if there was a halo car coming based on a mid-engined Corvette. The chiefs answer was gold for several reason in my opinion:

“It has to be one of the options that we consider. In the future there are going to be some architectures inside the corporation that will remain purely Cadillac, but then there are others where it just isn’€™t economically feasible to enter segments by trying to do a unique Cadillac. Then you look at what’s available in terms of corporate assets. And I’m sure you’€™d agree that a new, very advanced Corvette platform wouldn’€™t be a bad place to start. On the other hand, if we think about what could be a true halo car for Cadillac besides that, you could go in a completely different direction. Considering particularly our heritage, I could also imagine a very luxurious, very indulgent, very sophisticated four-door convertible being a good play that draws on our heritage”

When he says an advanced Corvette wouldn’t be a bad place to start, he’s simply responding to the frame of Burgess’ question.

Its the first part where the clues could be. A purely Cadillac architecture, a mid-engined performance car to insert Cadillac into the same kind of candy coated conversations it’s rivals are frequently included in. The type of architecture that only makes sense for Cadillac, one that isn’t economically feasible for Corvette.

And if that’s not enough; in January 2015,  de Nysschen was asked if he believed a Ford GT-esque car would fit into the brand’s portfolio, he said, “I absolutely do. I think there is room for a halo performance car such as that in our lineup.

Mercedes has the AMG GT, Audi has the R8, BMW the i8 and now even Acura has the NSX.

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But in my mind it’s not going to be the type of car that steps on Corvettes toes- Cadillac is not allowed to step on Corvettes toes, remember the XLR? The core demographic of the Corvette is still the muscle car crowd, yes the Corvette is a serious sports car, but the Vette is still a rather hard sell to someone shopping a half-million-dollar-Ferrari.

If Cadillac is going to do this, they need to do it right, they need to go hybrid and AWD.

From where I’m sitting the crazy Caddy needs to nestle somewhere between the McLaren P1/Ferrari LaFerrari/Porsche 918 and the Acura NSX/BMW i8/Audi R8 e-tron. Which would provide enough of a cushion to minimize Corvette cannibalization while giving them a product that is legitimately on the cutting edge of the industry. It could also double as an accelerant for the Generals already robust research into electric vehicle technologies.

Naturally this is me piling the conjecture even higher and it might be little more than sound and fury by the time 2016 is up. But hey, dare to dream right…

 

 

 

 

 

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