An unusual one, this: from today, gamers playing Gran Turismo 5 will be able to test drive the new Corvette C7 - two months before it's revealed to the world at the 2013 Detroit auto show.
The makers of GT5 on PlayStation have modelled a camouflaged 'Vette C7 with Chevrolet's approval. We can't remember a manufacturer letting the public 'loose' in a prototype quite so far ahead of a car's launch before. Even if it is a virtual experience.
Corvette C7 on Playstation's Gran Turismo 5
All six generations of existing Corvette are already available on Gran Turismo and Polyphony Digital, the software firm behind the game, say it's one of the most popular models to steer around the world's virtual circuits, including the Nurburgring.
They've apparently paid close attention to the creases and wrinkles in the disguise to ensure the computerised prototype looks exactly like the test mules we've already papped on CAR Online.
'Until now, only the most skilled drivers on the Corvette team have been authorised to push the test prototypes to the limits on some of the most challenging track surfaces in the world,' said Chris Perry, vice president of Chevrolet marketing. 'Through this unique collaboration with Gran Turismo, Chevrolet is able, for the first time, to give performance car enthusiasts access to such an exclusive driving experience.'
Corvette C7: the real car
The new C7 is based on GM's rear-wheel drive sports car platform, codenamed Y. It's related to the architecture of the outgoing C6, but CAR understands it's been upgraded with a transaxle while the small-block V8 continues. Even Corvette can't escape downsizing, but power is said to be very close to today's model despite a shrinkage of cubic capacity.
See the new Corvette C7 for real at the North American International Auto Show on 13 January 2013. And if you're on Twitter, look out for the #one13thirteen hashtag where Chevrolet promises more updates on the new 'Vette.