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A prototype believed to be the upcoming 2017 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 has been spied during testing.

The vehicle in question is a heavily-camouflaged C7 Corvette, a black mask on the front, swirly camouflage on the rear, and mismatched colours on its body panels.

Noticeable differences to this prototype are the large air intakes on either side of the front bumper, which could be feeding the intercoolers of a more powerful, possibly turbocharged engine.

In May reports speculated Chevrolet is preparing a monster last-hurrah version of the C7 Corvette for the 2017 North American international auto show (NAIAS) in January, which would likely be badged ZR1.

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Little is known about what will power the new ZR1, though a website for Corvette tuning company Katech Performance listed an ‘LT5’ engine for an unnamed variant. Rumours suggest the LT5 engine is a twin-turbo V8, which would explain the new air vents on the prototype’s front.

The car’s bonnet also has a prominent bulge which is similar to that on the supercharged Corvette Z06 revealed in 2014.

 

Look a little closer behind the blacked-out alloy wheels and you’ll see some bright blue brake calipers showing through the spokes – the original Corvette ZR1 had blue brake calipers, so this prototype could be using the same brake package.

Out back two small extensions protrude from the car’s bootlid, which could point to a rear wing being fitted to increase downforce.

With that in mind, it’s a logical assumption that this test mule could soon be revealed as the Corvette ZR1 next year, before the next-generation ‘C8’ Corvette arrives by the end of the decade.

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It is widely rumoured the next-gen Corvette will switch to a mid-engine layout for the first time in the nameplate’s 50-year history.

Also joining the mid-engined Corvette could be an electrified ‘E-Ray’ variant – the company trademarked the name at the end of last year, which is believed to be a hybrid rather than an EV.

While these changes point to a new Corvette variant, it could also be an updated version of the current Z06.

According to reports, Tadge Juechter, the Corvette’s chief engineer, said the 2017 model-year Z06 would receive some minor updates to address cooling issues that some customers have experience when using their cars on the track, which included larger bonnet vents and a new supercharger cover.

However, the prototype seems to sport more dramatic changes than a mild mid-life update, making a ZR1-badged C7 variant more likely.

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A fabric car cover showing through the rear windscreen also indicates this vehicle is not a mid-engined prototype.

Stay tuned to CarAdvice for more Corvette updates in the lead-up to the 2017 NAIAS.

Click the photos tab for more spy images of the 2017 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

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