SUBLIME and spectacular. The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray attracts attention even while stationary.
A rare sighting on Australian roads, the proudly American performance coupe cuts a ridiculously mean figure.
Squat, muscular and low, the coupe proudly wore its fire truck-red hue with burly bravado.
Looks alone turned heads and onlookers glared even longer when it was time to explore the 6.2-litre V8 engine's prowess. The Corvette attracted more attention that anything which has passed through our garage for some time... in the same realm as the odd Ferrari, yet the Chevy managed more thumbs up from keen fans.
And it would take a keen buyer to have one, with the price tag of our test vehicle nudging $200,000.
Why the hefty price tag?
The Corvette is fully imported, it's then converted to right-hand drive by Performax International. While these days the company specialises in big rigs such as the Toyota Tundra and Ford F-Trucks, the Corvette was the foundation on which Performax was built.
Based in Gympie, the conversion business grew and in the late '90s began work on GMCs for use as ambulances in Victoria.
Does that mean the end product isn't up to the quality of what you would receive overseas?
Not at all. Performax does a stellar job with the conversion.
The car is stripped to a bare shell and just the engine and gearbox remain. From there is a new steering rack, brake booster, while the steering column is moved to the right and the gear lever shifted to the right-hand side of the tunnel.
There's a wide range of changes and the finished product feels tight as drum. Which is why the conversion costs is about $40,000.
The buyer supplies the vehicle (luxury car tax is only payable on the cost of the vehicle which lands), and Performax does the rest.
Isn't that the same engine we've seen in Holdens?
This is the LS3 donk, which still pumps out 340kW and 624Nm of torque.
But the key objective here is weight. Whereas the HSVs and Commodores are four-door sedans, the Corvette has a kerb weight just shy of 1.5 tonnes mostly courtesy of an aluminium frame.
Our test machine wasn't fitted with the new optional performance exhaust but it wasn't shy to hollar when pressed. Yet, it's not overtly loud. Partnered with a seven-speed manual box it tore through the rev range with ease and feels every bit as quick as the sub-four second 0-100kmh time dictates.
So all that power through the rear wheels means it's only a straight line machine?
Actually the 'Vette does its best work in the bends.
The steering is razor sharp and we sliced through some challenging twisty stuff with consummate ease.
Within the console is a dial where you can select between modes like touring, eco (yeah like we're going to use that), sport and track.
Although the experience is unapologetically raw. The Corvette puts hairs on your chest with a vibration through the cabin at idle and a relatively noisy cabin by modern standards.
Does that mean passengers need kidney belt?
Not quite, you have to remember you're in a sledgehammer lined with velvet.
Getting inside can take some nimble dexterity. Sports cars are far removed from the SUVs multiplying like rabbits, so there is little choice but to hang on to the roof and slide yourself into the cockpit.
Once there it's actually a comfortable environment, with the bucket seats offering impressive levels of support.
You also get a pair of cup holders, along with an air-conditioning system which actually works.
But best of all there is a usable boot. Which means you can actually get to the airport or have a weekend away with a couple of bags.
What's new with the 2017 model?
Some cool new gizmos are now available, including performance data recorder, a kerb-view camera system, a remote start and locking mechanism through your smartphone app, along with Apple Car Play and Android Auto with Google Maps.
Would you buy one?
The shipping and conversion costs quickly inflate the price.
But you can't argue with the looks or the performance. There are certainly more luxurious cars with similar sporting characteristics, but few have the character of the Corvette.
Performax does conversions only on customer--‐supplied vehicles, so prices vary according to US purchase price and specifications.
Luxury Car Tax is charged on the landed value of the vehicle, not the final registration--‐ready RHD value.
This means the C7 is now very good value - from around $160,000 for a base model to $200,000 for a Grand Sport or Z06; again, depending on exactly what the owner supplies.
Model: Performax International Chevrolet Corvette C7 Stingray.
Details: Two-door rear-wheel drive performance coupe.
Engine: 6.2-litre V8 generating maximum power of 340kW @ 6000rpm and peak torque of 624Nm @ 4600rpm.
Transmission: Seven-speed manual (as tested) or six-speed automatic.
Performance: 0-100kmh in 3.8 seconds.
Bottom line: From $160,000-$200,000 depending on specification.
What matters most
What we liked: Head-turning looks, conversion fit and finish is impressive.
What we'd like to see: Improved exhaust soundtrack,less cabin noise.
Warranty: Performax International offers four-year/120,000km factory backed new car warranty with 24 hour roadside assistance.
Driving experience 16/20
Features and equipment 16/20
Functionality and comfort 16/20
Value for money 14/20
Style and design 19/20
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