To most enthusiasts the word “hybrid” undoubtedly evokes images of a Toyota Prius with multiple faded bumper stickers that all have something to do with saving the Earth. While those type of hybrids certainly have their place in the world, that technology only recently started to infiltrate the enthusiast market in a way that helps performance instead of hurting it. When Corvette engineers went to their electric powertrain colleagues to help slap an electric motor into the front of a C8 Stingray, they told them they “don’t care about range at all”. Its main purpose is to enhance performance, approachability, and livability. And the end result – the 2024 Chevy Corvette E-Ray – is the quickest and most technologically advanced Corvette to date.
What is the Corvette E-Ray?
The 2024 Corvette E-Ray is a mid-engine, all wheel drive, V8, hybrid supercar that makes 655 combined horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. Sitting smack in the middle of its widened chassis shared with the Corvette Z06 is a 1.9 kwh battery pack that sends 160 HP to the front axle, while the 6.2-liter LT2 V8 from the base Stingray sends 495 HP to the rear. The electrified additions add about 250 pounds to the E-Ray’s curb weight over the Z06, weighing in at 3775 pounds. Despite the weight gain, it’s good for a 0-60 sprint of just 2.5 seconds and a quarter mile time of 10.5 seconds. On paper that not only competes with, but bests almost all of its direct competition from Europe including the nearly-one-million-dollar Porsche 918 Spyder.
But just because it’s fast doesn’t mean it’s rowdy. If the Z06 is Chevrolet’s version of the 911 GT3, the E-Ray aligns more closely with the 911 Turbo. It’s more quiet, more effortlessly quick, and easier to live with everyday. A new “stealth mode” allows you to drive up to 5 miles on pure battery power to sneak out of your neighborhood in silence. Carbon ceramic brakes now come standard, and they’re wrapped in 345-section Michelin all-season tires that have been specially designed for the E-Ray.
GM designed the C8 chassis with varying degrees of modularity in mind from the start. The front shock towers were designed to literally be unbolted and replaced with taller versions in order to fit all of the electric drivetrain components in the front axle without ruining ride height. The battery pack is nestled between the driver and passenger seat, where you’d normally find a transmission or driveshaft. So far we haven’t seen it be used for anything other than the battery pack in the E-Ray, but GM certainly has more tricks up their sleeve.
Street Driving in the Corvette E-Ray
Within a few miles of slithering up the Colorado mountain twisties I realized the downsides of a hybrid Corvette are virtually non-existent on the street. All of the good things regarding comfort and drivability from the base Stingray still exist in the E-Ray thanks to magnetic ride control. The ride can get extraordinarily harsh when cranked to the max, but normal drive modes allow for ample body control without sending you to a chiropractor.
“eAWD” is Chevrolet’s name for the program that marries the front and rear axles together. Though they aren’t physically connected in any way, it adds an extra level of stability that you feel as the front electric motor pulls the nose of the car through low-speed corners. You can also feel the electric motor torque-fill gaps of power low in the V8’s rev-range. There were times when I expected a downshift or spike in engine RPM as we continued up various mountainous inclines, but that didn’t happen thanks to the electric motor’s ability to silently fill in for the V8 very low in the rev-range. Below 2,000 RPM it did feel unnatural at times, but it fades to the background as engine RPMs rise and your pace quickens.
If you drive the Corvette E-Ray back-to-back with one of its rear-drive siblings you may notice a slight difference in steering feel thanks to the added driveline components up front, but Chevrolet themselves admit the Z06 is the car to buy for outright tactility. The E-Ray is here for relatively quiet and confident speed.
On Track in the Corvette E-Ray
Anybody who has spent any time in grassroots motorsports will know just how fast and capable a completely stock Corvette is around the track. A well driven Corvette of any kind can lay down some seriously fast lap times thanks to a well sorted chassis and ridiculous levels of grip.
As I was pulling up to the course at Pikes Peak International Raceway, I was nervous that the E-Ray might have lost some of those predictable handling dynamics. On the surface, I wouldn’t call any car with 655 HP and 345s approachable to the average driver, but the E-Ray is as approachable as it gets right up to the limit. Just not beyond.
At the starting line I disabled all electric nannies, held back both paddle shifters in neutral and launched the E-Ray from 4,000 RPM. All 4 tires spun as I clicked through first and second gear almost faster than I could think. Third gear strikes in an instant and the combined forces of both powertrains re-arrange your insides before its time to hit the brakes for the slalom.
Trail-braking into turns is rewarded mid-corner as you start to feed in the power. The front engine uses that grip from the weight transfer to pull you out of the turn. Corner-entry understeer fades away as you feed on power. And if you act enough of a fool, the rear end will wiggle about until you find yourself in a full-on drift.
If you decide to keep your foot in it for some sideways fun you better werk. The eAWD computers really want you to commit to the throttle in a way that felt reminiscent of Ford’s Focus RS drift mode, except delightfully more rear biased. The E-Ray will certainly allow you to shred some tires with opposite lock, but it doesn’t really feel at home doing it. Even though it was really good fun trying, it would much rather hunker down and set a tidy lap time than it would show off sideways.
A Performance Bargain with Added Practicality
Since the Corvette’s inception Chevrolet has been swimming in the same ocean as their more expensive European rivals, yet riding their own sort of tidal wave. The 2024 E-Ray swims with the sharks when it comes to performance, but doesn’t necessarily zap your wallet when it comes time to pay for it. Pricing starts at a relatively low $105,000 when you consider the price of its competition.
It’s easy to lose sight of how the majority of people use cars like this, and the reality is most of them live their life solely on the street. The E-Ray happily slithers through mountain roads with precision, it will out-sprint the most expensive exotics between stoplights, and it still has room in the frunk for your burgers and beer later in the day. Chevrolet wants you to think they’re just as good as their European rivals, and they have the numbers to prove that they’re actually even better on paper.
That underdog mentality paired with some good old American engineering results in a package that is even more endearing than some of its more mature rivals. The E-Ray sits perfectly in GM’s family of worldly performance cars with a state-sized price tag.