I’ve been pushing an idea for a while now: Every remaining internal-combustion car will end up going hybrid before the last cylinder is strangled, its climate-toasting fuel supply shut off in favor of pure electric vehicles.

This is partly about emissions and CAFE regulations, but it’s also about tech superiority so conclusive that it crushes denial and melts resistance. It happened when turbocharging sparked an earlier downsizing revolution, and I argue it’s happening again: ICE cars and engines won’t be able to compete in the marketplace without a “turbo” boost from electricity. Even the most stubborn electric refusenik will want the car or truck with more horsepower, torque, acceleration and fuel economy, especially when the price becomes a virtual wash. 

Legacy brands like Toyota seem to agree with me, as Toyota moves toward hybrid-only models like the Sienna and Camry—merely America’s best-selling sedan—and delivers those win-win gains at a marginal added cost for the automaker and its buyers. As I began writing this, Ford CEO Jim Farley happened to mention that some Ford hybrids are already more profitable than their gas-only counterparts. We’re talking commodity, with small batteries and motors becoming as common as chip sets and alternators. So why wouldn’t you go hybrid, if you have to burn gas?

2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray

2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray

I’d like to thank the 2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray convertible for further vindicating my theory while showing me a hell of a good time in the Berkshires. You see, hybridization is also sweeping the highest echelon of performance cars. The 296 GTB is suddenly the go-to
Ferrari, a hybrid V-6 bottle rocket that’s faster around the Fiorano circuit than any company V-8 in history, including the La Ferrari hybrid hypercar. A decade’s progress will do that. McLaren has the Artura, with a hybrid SUV in the works. Aston Martin and Lamborghini are on board, as the clock tick-tocks on naturally-aspirated anything. The Porsche 911 Hybrid arrives later this year; Even Stuttgart can read the writing on the wall.

My own bifocals get blurry when I auto-launch the E-Ray, convertible top lowered for maximum buzz. Then I do it again. Chevy has clocked a 2.5-second burst to 60 mph, quicker than any ‘Vette before, including the fearsome track-rat C8 Z06. 

2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray

2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray

That’s an opening argument for why Chevrolet, seven years ago, began designing the eighth-generation Corvette (or “C8”) with hybrid and full EV versions in mind. The mid-engined E-Ray is not merely the lineup’s new stoplight king; history’s first AWD Corvette adds the grip and stability that makes that performance more accessible to all skill levels, in all types of weather. The E-Ray’s provocative, 3.6-inch-wider body, borrowed from the Z06 version, visually transforms a standard Stingray, as confirmed by wildly positive reactions from onlookers. Widened wheel arches and a sprawling rear deck amplify the Italian-esque mid-engine proportions and supercar vibe. They also make room for the widest Michelin all-season tires ever, including 345-mm rears. 

2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray

2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray

On the lovely Mohawk Trail in northwest Massachusetts—New England’s first scenic road, officially opened in 1914—the E-Ray emits a circa 2024 war cry. A 6.2-liter V-8, a member of an endangered tribe if ever there was one, is overlaid with a Reznor-esque digital track that’s one part glockenspiel, one part bone saw. Surrounding cars are promptly ground to dust, en route to a quarter-mile dash in 10.5 seconds at 130 mph, a skosh quicker than a Tesla Model S in Cheetah Mode, if not Plaid or Lucid Air Sapphire-fast. Top speed is 183 mph.

The digital sound ramps up beyond roughly half-throttle, cued to a 160-horsepower helping hand from a single electric motor that drives front wheels independently, with enough frunk space leftover for a pair of backpacks. The 495-hp V-8 parties in back, the mullet to the electric bangs up front, for a worthy combined output of 655 hp. The LT2 V-8 provides 470 pound-feet of rear torque, for a total of 592 lb-ft after electric contributions. 

This Corvette rides on addictive waves of power, a fix you suspect involves more than street-grade gasoline. Yet a bit like the Ferrari hybrid, the rush is so seamless, the systems so discreetly integrated—aside from a hint of torque steer at odd moments—that no one’s asking questions about the source. In this software-enabled video game, the electric motor fills in power gaps during gear changes and helps slow the car when you mash standard Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes. The C8’s Bosch brake booster, powered by electricity rather than engine vacuum, segues beautifully between regen and friction brakes along the pedal’s travel.

2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray

2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray

Somewhat refreshingly, there’s no greenwashing here, no pretense to fuel savings or electric-only range. A tiny 1.1-kWh battery cozies inside the coffin-like center tunnel between seats, and acts as a structural stiffener. A Stealth mode lets you start the Corvette but leave the V-8 a slumbering giant, possibly avoiding 5 a.m. spats with neighbors. You can drive on electrons at up to 45 mph, but I manage fewer than three miles from my driveway before the engine fires up.

The baby battery does help the Corvette run in four-cylinder mode more often; an EPA-rated 19/24 mpg in city and highway is quite respectable, versus 19/25 mpg for a standard Stingray with 160 fewer horses, and helps the Vette avoid any gas-guzzler tax. 

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As with the Corvette’s exotic hybrid brethren, its technology aims to keep pace with competitors first, regulators second. Battery chemistry and management are all about hyper-fast charge and discharge. How fast? A “Charge +” console button ups brake regen to fully charge a near-depleted battery in two to three miles of driving. That’s remarkable, considering the engine never directly charges the battery. (In certain situations, engine output will subtly rise beyond the throttle’s request, “pushing” front wheels to generate more juice.)

2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray

2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray

Nothing you can do on public roads can deplete the battery enough to diminish performance. Even during madcap runs through the Berkshires, at speeds and g-loads that few Corvette owners would attempt, I never see the battery dip below 30 or 40 percent. During Chevy’s quarter-mile acceleration tests, which put serious demands on a battery, simply driving back to the starting line topped off the battery for another go. And let’s be honest: If you’re the rare Corvette owner who ventures onto racetracks, you’re pricing out a Z06 and a roll cage. As with other ‘Vette models, owners can log battles on the Performance Data Recorder, including overlaying video laps with telemetry software to allow drivers to analyze and improve their skills. 

2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray

2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray

Make no mistake, this E-Ray can also set a wicked lap time. Tire grip alone can peel your skin like Buffalo Bill, with about 1.1 g’s of lateral force on all-season rubber, and optional Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires for people who want more. In Car and Driver’s hands at its annual Lightning Lap at Virginia International Raceway, the E-Ray’s 2:45.9 lap split the difference between the Z06’s 2:38.6 and the standard Stingray Z51 at 2:49.0. Oh, and the E-Ray, despite losing some battery contributions beyond 120 mph, was just 1.6 seconds behind a Lucid Air Sapphire, the physics-crushing electric sedan whose 1,002 hp in Hot Lap mode is 347 more than the gas-electric E-Ray. 

I’m eager to see what a forthcoming Corvette EV can do, with rumors (the Corvette’s cottage industry) suggesting between 900 and 1,000 hp. As for curb weight, the E-Ray weighs just over 3,900 pounds in coupe form and closer to 4,050 for the convertible; about 300 more than a Z06, but nearly 1,000 fewer than, say, a Porsche Taycan or Hyundai Ioniq 5 N EV. And the package feels so fast and fluid that the hybrid’s added weight feels almost negligible.

As noted, the E-Ray isn’t in the Z06’s league as a hardcore tool. Yet the E-Ray is the smarter performance upgrade for many Corvette enthusiasts. The E-Ray looks and feels more special than a civilian-issue Stingray. Yet it remains a supremely comfortable long-distance tourer, from its golf-bag-worthy rear trunk to a multi-mode magnetic suspension and airy cockpit. 

2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray

2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray

This being a Corvette, there are missteps, typically of taste and execution. The optional bright blue interior trim looked PlayDoh-colored and didn’t match the exterior’s optional blue center paint stripe. As on every C8, the console’s waterfall stripe of analog switches is visually and functionally awkward, a try-hard element in an otherwise appealing cabin.

At least it's a value. Though by traditional Chevy standards the E-Ray is no bargain, by the standards of hybrid supercars it’s a steal. The E-Ray coupe starts from about $106,500, or $113,500 for the convertible. My top-shelf 3LZ convertible started at $122,445, and sneaked past $129,000 with options. 

The forthcoming Porsche 911 GTS hybrid will start from $166,895 for a base coupe, and about $180,000 for the Cabriolet, with 532 hp versus the Corvette’s 655. In the wacky world of Porsche options, that means roughly $200,000 for a typical 911 hybrid coupe before inevitable dealer markups. The now-discontinued Acura NSX also topped 180 grand with options, and the Corvette is significantly faster and more engaging. McLaren’s Artura starts from around $250,000. And while the 819-hp Ferrari 296 GTS convertible may be the world’s best current supercar, it lives in another world: A $371,000 base price jumped to $500,300 in the model I tested. In other words, the Ferrari’s options cost as much as this Corvette.

2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray

2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray

I realize Chevy isn’t selling a fully electric Corvette, yet. But E-Ray is an ideal ambassador for electrification in states and locales where Corvette fans and old-school ICE enthusiasts roam. It arrives as enthusiasts and performance brands alike dig in their heels and find excuses for delaying the transition to EVs. Diehards may say you can pry the gas pump from their cold dead hands, but they’ll still dream of sponge-bathing this All-American supercar.

When that electric Corvette arrives, E-Ray owners and fans will already be meeting it halfway. They’ll take skeptical friends for a ride, people who’d never be caught out in a Tesla.

That’s the Corvette’s superpower, or E-Ray Vision: Melting tires, melting resistance.

Gallery: 2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray -- Live Pics

Lawrence Ulrich is an award-winning freelance automotive journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. He's also the former chief auto critic of The New York Times and a contributing editor at Road & Track. 

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