What if you went to work one day and your boss had a sit-down with you. The news: He's going to pay you 5 percent more, you have to do 5 percent less work, the work you do will be 5 percent easier, your commute is going to be 5 percent shorter, and you get 5 percent more vacation time. When you go home that evening, your wife is 5 percent better looking, and that cold beer waiting for you in the fridge is 5 percent taller and 5 percent colder. Suddenly, 5 percent is a number that sounds pretty righteous.

Chevrolet's fifth-generation small-block V-8, called the "LT1," is kind of like the 5 percent scenario spelled out above-at least in automotive terms. It's no secret that the '14 Corvette will be an all-new design, and the Gen V small-block will power it to new levels of performance with an all-new design of its own. One interesting tidbit: We're told unequivocally that the base model C7 will do 0-to-60 in less than four seconds. You'll remember it wasn't long ago that we were popping champagne bottles when the Z06 did 0-to-60 in 3.9. In an era where all of us are getting 5 percent less and paying 5 percent more for it, the LT1 is a very welcome improvement.

Across the board, the 6.2L LT1 is incrementally better in every way than the 6.2L LS3 it replaces; the LT1 makes 450 hp at 6,000 rpm and 450 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm compared to the outgoing LS3 that makes 430 hp at 5,400 rpm and 424 lb-ft at 4,500 rpm. We're promised by Chevy that fuel economy will get a boost too, although how much better than the LS3's 26 mpg highway number we'll have to wait and see. (Five percent would be right in the wheelhouse.) Finally, on the emissions side, the LT1 puts out 25 percent fewer cold-start emissions (the most problematic ones to reduce) than the LS3. As a result, the '14 Corvette will be the quickest, cleanest, and most fuel-efficient base-model Corvette ever produced.

Across the board, the 6.2L LT1 is incrementally better in every way than the 6.2L LS3 it replaces…

The engineers at GM Powertrain attribute these gains in efficiency to a trifecta of new-generation technologies that have been seen elsewhere, but never put together in a domestic V-8 until now. The LT1 is the first engine in the Gen V engine family, which will feature direct injection, continuously variable valve timing, and active fuel management-all three being the result of over 10 million hours of computational analysis, 6 million hours of computational fluid dynamics simulation, and 0.1 quadrillion bytes of disc space. All of this happened in just under two years, and is the effort that will underpin a whole host of Gen V engines that will power all of GM's larger cars and trucks.

Direct Injection

Of the next-generation technologies employed in the LT1, direct injection (DI) is the newest, and is the linchpin that everything rides on. As its name implies, DI injects fuel directly into the combustion chamber, a process that if timed and targeted optimally, can yield substantial improvements in efficiency. GM Powertrain engineers broadly refer to it as the advanced combustion system, because in actuality DI's efficiency gains are highly dependent on having the right intake runner, piston, and combustion chamber shape as an integrated system; it is not merely good enough to bolt DI on and call it a day.

From a hardware standpoint, DI makes use of a high-pressure mechanical fuel pump that is driven off a "tri-lobe" at the end of the camshaft; the result is fuel pressure on the order of 2,175 psi. Why so much? Since the fuel is injected directly into the combustion chamber during periods of intense pressure, the line pressure must be high enough for positive flow into the combustion chamber, and high enough to produce adequate atomization. What you get from this is a really effective way of cooling the combustion chamber-a property that vastly improves octane tolerance. To take advantage, Chevy has increased the compression ratio to 11.5:1. The magical thing about this is if you can raise the compression ratio without detonating or pulling out timing, you get more power without having to add fuel. As a bonus, DI does away with spraying fuel at the intake valve, and cold-start emissions are improved in a big way. Moreover, unlike its Gen IV predecessors, the LT1 can operate safely on any fuel octane and in any high temperature environment with relative impunity. Except for a slight loss of power, the engine simply does not care.

CVVT

Continuously variable valve timing (CVVT) is something we've seen in Gen IV V-8s, but never in a Corvette. As we reported in our Dec. '12 story on variable valve timing, the aftermarket (COMP Cams and Mast Motorsports) has already caught up and is embracing the technology in its various forms. The advantage of CVVT is that by changing the valve timing-in particular the intake valve closing event-it's possible to maximize cylinder filling and volumetric efficiency over a broad powerband. A simple way to look at CVVT is to imagine that you're doing a series of dyno tests on a camshaft. In the first series of tests, you advance the camshaft until you find the engine's best performance at low rpm. In the second set of tests, you retard the cam until you find the greatest horsepower peak. Now imagine turning a dial and being able to put that cam phasing anywhere you want between those extremes without pulling off the timing cover and changing the timing. The LT1's variable valve timing is like having the ability to retard or advance the camshaft at will, taking into account load and rpm, and eking the most from its 376 ci. In the LT1, CVVT "clocks" the camshaft over a range of 62 degrees. As such, the timing gear is not attached directly to the cam, but to a cylinder with oil-filled chambers that act on the "clocking" of the camshaft. CVVT is the reason why the LT1 makes 395 lb-ft of torque at only 2,000 rpm, and why the torque curve is identical to the much larger LS7's at every point below 4,000 rpm.

Active Fuel Management

The third punch in the LT1's arsenal of advanced technology weaponry is Active Fuel Management (AFM). AFM unobtrusively disengages four of the LT1's eight cylinders when load conditions make it conducive to saving fuel. AFM technology has been in widespread use in the Gen IV LS family for several years, but this is the first time it's shown up in a Corvette engine. AFM is estimated to improve fuel economy by anywhere between 5.5 and 12 percent, so why hasn't it shown up on a Corvette sooner? Maybe it's because GM feared the Corvette customer is more likely to notice it engaging and disengaging, or maybe they merely delayed its introduction long enough to figure out how to make it interact with the new DI technology. We can only guess, but it's about time AFM showed up in the Corvette.

…the ’14 Corvette will be the quickest, cleanest, and most fuel-efficient base-model Corvette ever produced.

At the heart of the LT1's AFM system is the lifter oil manifold assembly (LOMA), which orchestrates the ebb and flow of pressurized lube to lifter sets in four of the LT1's eight cylinders. These special lifters either activate their corresponding valves, or they keep them closed. In GM and Chrysler vehicles we've driven with cylinder deactivation, it operates seamlessly and quietly. It should be noted that the degree to which AFM works without intrusion is largely the result of lots of tedious testing and programming to calibrate the wireless throttle body, exhaust tuning, fuel delivery, ignition timing, and cylinder deactivation. In theory, it works as though nothing is happening, but sometimes aftermarket exhaust systems make the cylinder deactivation a more obvious trait. We look forward to driving the C7 to see how well it works. In theory at least, we should see the Corvette's highway mpg go from 26 mpg, to anywhere between 27 and 29 mpg just on the basis of adding AFM alone.