Continuing the performance trend, the Lime Rock Metallic car we tested also included the Magnetic Ride Control suspension setup for $1,795 and the dual-mode performance exhaust for $1,195.

All 2014 Corvettes come with a 6.2-liter V-8 engine that makes 455 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque (the optional exhaust system adds five to each of those figures). Zero to 60 mph passes in a mere 3.8 seconds in the Z51 optioned 'Vette. And yet the car manages 17 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway, thanks to direct fuel injection and a cylinder deactivation system that shuts off four of the eight cylinders during freeway cruising.

Two transmissions are available: a seven-speed manual gearbox with active rev-matching, or a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.

All these changes make for an incredibly compelling sports car. The previous Corvette required some seat time to get comfortable pushing its limits; the C7 is ready to dance right out of the box.

The engine has a throaty yet refined voice that barks out of the quad exhaust pipes. Power delivery is smooth throughout the rev range, and there's always plenty on tap.

Although an automatic transmission could have been an afterthought on this car, it's a solid gearbox that shifts quickly in manual or automatic mode. But get the stick shift. The clutch is easy to modulate and the shifter has a heavy feel but still finds most of its gates without trouble.

This 2014 Corvette isn't a small car, but it never feels heavy. This helps the C7 dart through corners with precision and poise. The Corvette's steering wheel is now smaller and Chevy says the steering is stiffer, but it transmitted a confident feel for the road.

A subtle electronic limited slip differential allows you to easily shake the rear of the car loose with predictable oversteer, if that's your thing. Even if it's not, the car's power is always approachable and useful to a wide range of drivers.

The edgy styling that Chevy sees as crucial to the Corvette's future may not be for everyone — but the rest of the car absolutely is.

david.undercoffler@latimes.com