Australians will soon be driving one of the darlings of the American car industry – the Chevrolet Corvette, the latest version of which will be sold through Holden dealerships.
The eight-generation of the legendary Corvette (known as C8) has undergone its biggest transformation, shifting the engine from the front to the back – and it will also be produced with the steering wheel on the right for the first time, paving the way for its local introduction.
"We look forward to taking on the European and Japanese performance vehicles with some highly sophisticated American muscle," said Holden chairman and managing director Dave Buttner.
"The news that Corvette will now be built in right-hand-drive for the first time ever – and will be exported to Australia – is hugely exciting for our team at Holden and any Australian who loves high performance cars. Our team is totally revved up to build on Holden's performance legacy with the most technologically advanced Corvette ever built."
The new Corvette features a major tech injection that includes a carbon fibre rear bumper beam, 12.0-inch customisable instrument cluster and over-the-air software updates.
In a nod to its new supercar looks there's also a front-end lift system to help navigating speed humps or steep driveways, something linked to GPS navigation with the ability to store favourite locations.
It will also include a forward-facing high definition camera and data on race tracks around the world.
But it's the mid-engine layout that defines the C8 Corvette, a car GM describes as the "ultimate dream sports car" and a "milestone achievement" in the development of a car that's played a role in movies, songs and TV shows over decades.
It's indicative of a move by parent company General Motors to muscle in on the battle for the supercar dollar, one designed to better position it against European exotica from Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren.
"To take performance and driving dynamics to the next level for our customers we had to move to mid-engine," said former Holden boss and now General Motors president Mark Reuss in revealing the C8 Corvette.
The move to a mid-engined layout – positioning the V8 engine behind the occupants – fulfils a decades-long dream of GM designers to create a more thoroughbred sports car.
While Corvette design cues remain – the angled nose, distinctive tail lights and flag logo – the proportions are very different courtesy of the significantly shorter bonnet and fuller rump of the mid-engine design.
Like a Ferrari, the engine is proudly on display through the rear window, red highlights and all.
Corvette concepts have previously teased the familiar mid-engined layout, but this is the first Corvette since the original in 1953 to roll off the legendary Bowling Green production line in Kentucky with the engine out back.
The mid-engine layout is designed to take more power, the additional weight over the rear making for slicker acceleration without wheelspin.
GM said it had "reached the limits" of what a front-engine, rear-drive car could achieve, prompting the major switch.
Despite the changes, familiarity rules elsewhere.
Powering the C8 Corvette Stingray is a heavily redesigned 6.2-litre V8 punching out 369kW.
Chief engineer Tadge Juechter said the company was bucking the trend to forced induction cars such as turbos, using a naturally aspirated design for sharper responses and a cleaner, meaner sound.
Combined with a new twin-clutch eight-speed automatic transmission it's claimed to launch the car to 100km/h in about three seconds, putting it in the realms of serious sports cars.
While Chevrolet hasn't announced pricing for the new Corvette yet, estimates out of the US suggest it could start around US$60,000, a slight increase over the outgoing C7 model.
Converted to Australian dollars and with local taxes included it'll be well into six figures, likely hovering around $150K by the time it hits the showroom floor.
That would still make it a comparative bargain by mid-engine supercar standards.