The eighth-generation Chevrolet Corvette has landed in Europe. Available at last in official 'export' specification compliant with European emissions regulations, and finally on sale in the UK in factory-warranted right-hand drive form, this is a landmark version of one of the oldest, most famous and most successful sports cars in the world. And we've been waiting for it for a long time.
This car has been through a key technical transformation as part of which its famous and character-defining Chevy 'small block' V8 engine has migrated from the front of the car to the back. Now mid-engined (like an Audi R8 or Ferrari F8 Tributo) rather than front-engined (like a Jaguar F-Type or BMW M4), the C8 has also adopted steel coil suspension in place of its old leaf sprung axles, and drops a manual gearbox entirely in favour of a new twin-clutch automatic. Power for European versions is slightly lower than in North America, pegged at 475bhp rather than 495-; but standard chassis specification is improved, with all official European-market cars getting Corvette's 'Z51' upgrade kit as standard.
And so, after nearly seventy years of production, this car finally stands ready to compete with the greatest sports cars in Europe on their home turf; with a modern and dynamically optimised mechanical layout; and in right-hand drive form, for those that want it. But is it good enough to really threaten them? Matt Saunders went to Frankfurt to begin finding out.