There’s a whole laundry list of firsts for the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette, but one of them that really stood out to us is the new brake system that Chevy calls “eBoost brakes.” That’s just a fancy marketing term for brake-by-wire. What this ultimately lets the driver do is adjust the brake pedal feel depending on the mode they put it in.
Plenty of other cars utilize brake-by-wire (mostly hybrids), but performance vehicle applications are still rather scarce — the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio Quadrifoglio also use it. If you’re unfamiliar with the technology, just compare it to throttle-by-wire, a widely accepted technology seen in pretty much every new car today. It’s the same essential concept. The driver presses down on the brake pedal, sending a signal to a computer. This “force” is then transferred to all the brakes using traditional brake fluid. Chevy is able to eliminate the conventional vacuum-based power brake system, which it says “provides an advantage in efficiency.”
GM is right about that. The C8's “eBoost” unit combines four components — master cylinder, vacuum booster, vacuum pump and electronic brake control module — into one single unit. That means the system is more space- and weight-efficient than a traditional braking system. Chevy specifically claims that this is one of the reasons why the C8 has as much luggage room as it does — fitting two golf bags into the trunk of a mid-engine car is no small feat.
Back to what it means for the driving experience, though. Chevy makes a couple bold claims here that will require driving to confirm. For one, Chevy says the system “enables consistent brake pedal feel in all driving conditions.” We’re also told that there is “no unwanted feedback during aggressive or track driving.”
Certainly GM has worked hard at tuning in the correct pedal feedback for adverse driving conditions. Remember, the pedal you’re pushing now is essentially just a big variable capacitor. An “adjustable” button sending an electronic signal, if you will. Most of us are accustomed to the feeling of traditional brakes on slick surfaces, but GM has to tune all that in with this new system. The bit about tuning out unwanted feedback during aggressive or track driving is also intriguing. Most track rats will know the feeling of fading brakes as the pedal becomes mushier deep into lapping sessions. Alfa lets drivers know the brakes are too hot via a light on the dash with its brake-by-wire system. We imagine Chevy has a similar solution for the C8. Your brakes will likely feel perfectly normal until that point, though.
Perhaps most interesting of all is that Chevy is adding brake pedal feel to the list of elements changed by the adjustable drive modes. Here they are below with a description from Chevrolet.
- Tour: provides a comfortable brake feel for everyday driving
- Sport: provides drivers with an option for more jump-in and a more aggressive feel
- Track: provides a smooth and progressive feel at the limit that allows drivers a wide range of modulation for trail-braking
We’ll admit, adjusting the feel of the brakes through modes is a novel idea. However, we also understand that there are plenty of folks who may not want that long-standing consistency to change. BMW says it’s bringing a similar feature to the M8, and Alfa already adjusts the brake feel depending on the mode you’re in. One could even label brake-by-wire as trendy in the sports car world at this point.
Providing the basic architecture for brake-by-wire in the new Corvette platform also leaves the door open even further for electrification plans down the line. We saw a report suggesting exactly that the day after the car’s reveal. This is just one more element of the C8 Corvette we're eager to try when the time comes to get behind its slightly square wheel.