Looks that thrill. It might sound heretical to say this, but previous Corvettes haven’t been attractive cars. From wobbly plastic bodywork to outsized round rear lights, there’s been a distinct air of cost-cutting and that’ll-do design. The lengthy hood required by the old front-engine configuration could have become a focal point, but instead contrived to look rather ungainly.

Not anymore. The new mid-engine Corvette is an absolute stunner. Look down on the convertible from an upper-story window and you could be admiring a McLaren or a Ferrari. The arrow-like rear lights have a hint of Lamborghini Huracan about them, and the nose – the most Corvette-like part of this generation’s design – bristles with intent. It’d take a brave soul to see this car filling their rearview mirror and not instinctively change lanes. We also like the fact that the coupe has a removable targa top for al fresco journeys, while the convertible can raise or lower its hood in just 16 seconds even at 30 miles an hour.

All about the driver. In many sportscars, a token rear seat is installed, with minimal legroom and tiny windows contributing to a second-class ambiance. Chevy has avoided this by making the Corvette strictly a two-seater. Instead, they’ve made the front passenger feel like the poor relation through cabin design that borders on the bizarre.

The dashboard and instrumentation are heavily canted towards the driver, to the point where a passenger would struggle to see the infotainment screen clearly. A huge vertical strip of buttons runs down to the transmission tunnel, forming another physical bridge between front seat occupants. Don’t buy this car if you plan to snuggle up at the drive-in with your significant other – they won’t feel very significant hemmed into one corner of the cabin.

We’re not fans of the hexagonal steering wheel, which feels awkward at quarter-turn, but there’s something reassuringly cockpit-like about having everything facing the driver. There are some anomalies like the three buttons almost randomly positioned to the left of the steering wheel, but the plastic-and-tinfoil aesthetic of old ‘Vettes has been replaced with glossy carbon fiber and premium stitching. Even the standard Bose stereo speakers look attractive.

2023 Chevrolet Corvette Interior

Power station. If you add the Z51 performance package to the standard 490 hp 6.2-liter V8 engine, you can dispatch the 0-60 sprint in less than three seconds. That’s supercar territory, in a car whose base model is priced at just $65,995 in coupe form. That undercuts the far slower entry-level Jaguar F-Type by $4,000, though the Brit’s strengths do lie elsewhere. We haven’t even mentioned the 5.5-liter DOHC V8 engine that will feature in the forthcoming Z06.

Giant dollops of power would be useless without roadholding to match, and Chevy has made the latest generation ‘Vette almost four inches wider to accommodate bigger wheels and tires. There are 20-inchers at the front and 21s at the back on flagship models (19s and 20s lower down the range), hiding larger brakes and performance-tuned double wishbone suspension.

A 40/60 weight distribution won’t give the BMW M3 any sleepless nights, but it ensures there’s plenty of weight pinning those vast rear tires down as they apply rubber to road. Traction is excellent, and though electric power steering is viewed by some as the work of Beelzebub, it provides decent feedback here. The Z51 Performance Package adds magnetic dampers that smooth out the ride quality while bundling in a superior limited-slip diff and Michelin summer tires for maximum track day thrills.

A mixed bag of toys. Specifications are a game of two halves. First, the good news. Even the base 1LT comes with power-adjustable leather seats, a ten-speaker Bose stereo and a 12-inch digital instrument cluster. 2LT introduces ventilated memory seats and wireless device charging, navigation and a head-up display, albeit with a significant price uptick.

Safety is a worry, especially considering this car’s power. Even if you spend $8,995 adding Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes, the absence of automatic emergency braking feels unacceptable nowadays. Given the Corvette’s awful rear visibility, it’s particularly disappointing that features like a rear camera mirror and blind spot monitoring are optional rather than standard. There’s no crash test data to seek reassurance in, either.

Final thoughts. In a market traditionally dominated by European rivals, the all-American Corvette can hold its head up high. By moving the engine centrally, Chevy has been able to design a stunning vehicle with prodigious traction and sophisticated road manners. The interior might be a meal-for-one affair, but it’s impossible to sink into the snug driver’s seat and not smile. There are design details to cherish wherever you look (we particularly like the coupe’s clear engine bay window), while an endless list of options packs makes every ‘vette unique.

As always, there’s a catch. The Corvette is pitched as a supercar for the working man – a modern-day Ford GT, now that the Blue Oval has forgotten its blue-collar origins. Yet the Corvette doesn’t look like such a bargain when the price of options-equipped flagship models is nudging $150,000. For that money, you could (almost) have a Mercedes-Benz AMG GT C Roadster, which is far more sophisticated and way more practical as a daily companion. Cheaper is better in this case, and the base 1LT model should be more than enough for most buyers.

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