It’s not exactly exaggerating to say that a new Corvette doesn’t come along every day of the week. So perhaps it’s unsurprising that the new "C7" Corvette, which ushers back in the famous "Stingray" name too, is on the front of every US paper this morning and was the site of an almighty bun-fight on Chevrolet’s stand at the Detroit motor show where it was revealed.
So what of this, GM’s new giant-slaying supercar? Well, it’s grown somewhat. Rather like Porsche 911s, Corvettes have always been fairly petite things but this one looks frankly massive at first sight. It’s a bit of an illusion - in reality it level pegs with the new 911 in terms of size, but it’s lost some of the previous car’s compact, clenched-fist looks, partly because of the addition of the rear quarterlight window, a new feature on the Corvette and one that makes the window graphic look a bit Nissan GTR in our eyes.
But, especially in red with a black roof, the C7 in fact looks closer to a Ferrari than any Corvette before. The 599 GTO to be specific, which it shares a slightly fussy set of body surface panels with, along with a series of swoops, slashes and intakes designed to cool the beast and make air flow over it properly.
The details are certainly loud. It’s got four exhaust pipes poking out of the centre of the rear bumper below the number plate. And a new, much more meaningful front air intake and set of lights that reminded us of the Fisker Karma. Does it still look like a Corvette? Jury’s out on that one, we’ll wait until we see it on the road, but there’s no denying it has presence.
And that Stingray name? Well, it was first used on the 63 Corvette, and was a moniker given to the car because, well, it looked like a stingray fish. Apparently, seen in plan-view, the new one’s similarly stingray-like. But, lovely badges on the wings aside, we’re not totally convinced this car deserves the iconic Stingray name.
Pop open the door (easier said than done as it’s on a concealed catch that makes entry tricky for the uninitiated) and you drop into a super-low and all-new cabin. This is where the difference between old and new Corvette really makes its presence felt. The old car had an interior that wouldn’t have passed Fisher Price quality control (GM’s global head of design told us it was a "good, not great interior", which is as close to an admission you’ll get from a car designer that it was actually rubbish), but the new interior is really quite a nice place to sit.
The layout’s not dissimilar to an Audi R8, with a sweeping arc up from the centre tunnel that wraps behind the instrument cluster. It’s all made out of high-quality plastics this time, and even the red bits add a nice sporty feel without resorting to cheapness. We suspect you’ll want to drive a Corvette rather than social network in it, but just in case, GM has equipped it with its latest tech platform working through a 7-inch touchscreen, which means you can get its On-star services and apps such as Pandora radio. You also get a digital rev counter which, given how fast this thing’s going to move, we hope has a decent frame-per-second refresh rate.
Just how fast is it? Well, the 6.2-litre V8 shoves out 450 brake horsepower, and GM’s claiming 0-60 in under 4 seconds. And remember, this is the "basic" version - who knows what’ll happen when we get into the breathed-on versions that’ll naturally arrive some point down the line.
Of course, the Corvette’s real trick has always been to offer Ferrari performance at less than half the price. And that looks set to continue with an expected asking price of around $65,000. For the performance, that’s frankly nuts and makes that £170k Ferrari look somewhat poor value. The exciting news, for us Brits, is that GM is promising to produce this one in right-hand drive format. The bad news? We’re reportedly going to have to wait until 2016 for it.