Recommended. The latest Corvette C6 is raucous, rapid and relatively cheap to buy. It's still flawed, but its powertrain is much improved making it more exhilarating to drive. You'd have to really want one to forgive the sky-high running costs, but the noise from that V8 alone is almost worth it.
This is the sixth generation of the Chevrolet Corvette, America's long-standing sports car icon, now revised for 2008 with a host of new technical enhancements. It's the Yank's equivalent of the Porsche 911, a high-performance legend that's stuck to the same basic rubber burning, V8-power, rear-drive recipe since 1953.
But, The Times They Are A Changin', as Bob Dylan once sang, so now the GM small block V8 that's at the heart of the modern Corvette has been upgraded to offer better fuel economy, cleaner exhaust emissions... oh, and bucket load more power.
In fact, as global oil prices reach record highs, Chevrolet's gone and made the Corvette's LS3 engine even bigger, increasing its capacity from a wimpy 6.0-litres to 6.2-litres. This means this latest Corvette C6 puts 435bhp at the mercy of your right foot - nearly ten percent more than the outgoing C6 - so it'll shove you from standstill to 60mph in 4.3 seconds and on to 186mph if you really let it flex its muscles. That's faster than an Audi R8.
The revised C6 also has a new smooth paddle-shift auto gearbox with shorter ratios, which combined with the engine's extra urge to markedly improve acceleration and, happily, make the Corvette a more refined drive when you're not trying to break land speed records.
The Corvette C6 is available with a targa roof and lighter, harder, track-derived variants like the ZO6 can also be imported for a premium. On the basic C6, the optional exhaust pack we had fitted to our test car is an absolute must. It frees up a further 9bhp and provides the Corvette with the thunderous, raucous soundtrack it deserves.
Yet despite the extra glut of performance, the 2008 Corvette C6 really is more economical to run than before. It'll achieve over 20mpg in town if you're light-footed, according to Chevrolet. We weren't, to be honest, but the C6 didn't drain the tank quite as quickly as we'd expected. That is relative to other supercars with massive V8 engines, mind you...
OK, so through the bends the Corvette still feels like a blunt instrument compared to a Porsche 911. And high-tech Japanese tools like the Nissan GT-R are on another planet. But criticisms about the previous Corvette's wooden steering have at least been addressed; it's now much more feelsome than before. And the standard C6's chassis set-up has benefited from the hardcore ZO6 version's Nurburgring development programme too. It handles a challenging road perfectly adequately but, even so, the muscular Corvette's feels at its best bashing up straight, wide stretches of asphalt.
Reasons to run a mile? Well the Corvette's cabin quality is wide of the European mark, it'll depreciate quickly and it's available in left-hand-drive only.
But, buying a new Corvette is not as crazy an idea as it used to be. It's got a decent sized boot, is relatively comfortable day-to-day and you can import one through official UK GM dealerships, with a three year warranty. The latest 2008 powertrain enhancements make the Corvette a more useable, more realistic ownership proposition too. But its bargain basement price remains its strongest asset - you won't find a genuine supercar icon for less than £50k anywhere else.