Those spy shots of the mid-engine Corvette C8 taken in Colorado in March show one peculiar feature that’s not been noticed: a flat-top steering wheel.
With a flat top typically comes a flat bottom, so we can relatively safely assume that the future Corvette will offer a flat-top and bottom steering wheel.
The C7 Corvette launched with a regular/round steering wheel for the 2014 and 2015 model years, but introduced a flat-bottom wheel for the 2016 model year. The argument for a flat-bottom wheel isn’t associated entirely with function. The primary reason for such a wheel, in fact, is its more sporty appearance.
On race cars, however, a flat-bottom steering wheel has a smaller diameter, thereby creating space that enables the driver to tilt it lower for a more ergonomic driving position. In limited cases, a flat-bottom wheel creates more room for the driver to perform heel-toe maneuvers. So what’s the point of a flat-top wheel, then?
As it turns out, a flat-top wheel can potentially complement a flat-bottom wheel in two ways:
- A flat-top wheel has an even smaller diameter than a wheel with a round top, which results in a smaller surface area for the driver to turn in order to make a steering input/adjustment, thereby resulting in (a fraction) less effort when steering.
- A flat-top wheel can theoretically result in a better view of the gauge cluster in cases when both elements were engineered to look and work in harmony.
A third benefit of a flat-top wheel isn’t necessarily associated with the shape of the wheel itself, but rather to the more comprehensive topic of the vehicle’s controls. For instance, the Corvette C7.R uses a steering wheel that has most of the vehicle’s controls (such as engine start, gear selection, and turn signals) positioned on the wheel itself, thereby eliminating the effort and time associated with reaching for a control elsewhere in the car, such as the turn signal stem on the steering column.
But ultimately, a flat-top and flat-bottom wheel might find its way to the future Corvette not because of any functional reasons, but simply because the upcoming mid-engine Vette has all the makings of a supercar with a unique drivetrain configuration that lend themselves to exotic design proportions – and such a model simply must have a proper race car steering wheel. As our own Manoli Katakis put it, “because racecar”.
About Mid-Engine Corvette
Rumored for the past several years, the mid-engine Corvette has been spotted with increasing frequency undergoing testing with a heavy amount of camouflage. At the beginning of April, an attendee of the 2018 Chevrolet national dealer meeting was cited as saying that executives showed images of the future Corvette mid-engine sports car (aka Corvette C8), confirming the vehicle’s existence in future Chevy product pipeline.