The new, eighth-generation Chevrolet Corvette delivers many impressive statistics. But none is more remarkable than the one with the dollar sign in front of it.
Persuade an American dealer to sell the base car at its official MSRP list price - unlikely for several months at least - and it will cost just $59,995 (£47,230). This for a mid-engined 483bhp sports car with performance that gets it close to supercar territory. Bargain is an overused term, but it's hard to think of any better way to describe the C8.
Of course, there is no chance that any Corvette would ever officially reach the UK with the direct sterling equivalent of that price tag. Context is everything here, and in the US that means the entry-level C8 is cheaper than the $60,250 (£47,410) base Porsche 718 Boxster.
Even selecting the plushest-available 3LT trim package for $71,495 (£56,260) and adding both the $5000 (£3930) Z51 performance pack (including a sports exhaust, a limited-slip differential, bigger brakes, upgraded aero and Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres in place of standard all-seasons) and adaptive dampers for $1895 (£1490) still brings in a fully laden Vette for less than the $81,950 (£64,430) Porsche charges for an unoptioned Cayman GTS in the US.
While supercar makers can afford to throw exotic materials at structures, the C8 has been built around a far lower-cost aluminium structure. There are two carbonfibre parts to add strength in critical areas, one being a panel underneath the central "backbone", the other the rear bumper beam. Chevrolet claims the C8's structure is 19% stiffer than that of the C7.
It is bigger, too. Indeed big, full stop: the 2723mm wheelbase in 248mm longer than that of the Cayman and the overall length of 4630mm makes it longer than almost any other mid-engined two-seater and 134mm longer than the front-engined C7. The advantage of that is the relatively spacious cabin and the added practicality of the rear luggage compartment. The C8 has also lost the transverse rear leaf spring of other recent Vettes, now having coil springs at each corner.
Chevrolet has been talking about a mid-engined Corvette for several decades; the original plan was for the previous-generation C7 to make the switch until GM's bankruptcy in 2009 saw the project cancelled. While much about the C8 is new beyond the novelty of reversing the order of passengers and powerplant, much is familiar as well. Design riffs hard on the same themes, with a very similar sharky front end to that of the outgoing car and familiar rear lights. Exterior bodywork is still made from glassfibre, and the core of the mechanical package is the time-honoured 'small block' pushrod V8, this driving the rear wheels through an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox.