Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY
MARINA, Calif. - How good can life be?
Just remove the hardtop roof panel of a new Corvette Stingray, punch the accelerator to fully absorb the reassuring rumble of its V-8 and feel the wind in your hair. You may find the answer.
Chevrolet has completely updated its famous sports car in a bid for more respect among world-class sports cars, and with an eye to attracting new and younger fans and buyers.
The 2014 Corvette aims valiantly to shed an image of being the embodiment of the Ugly American - powerful yet unrefined and fat.
The Corvette's new cockpit makes full use of real stuff - leather, carbon-fiber accents and aluminum - in contrast to a sea of plastic that marked the outgoing model.
At 460 horsepower, the 6.2-liter V-8 with the performance exhaust system has 25 more ponies than the engine it replaces, yet is powerful, smooth and more efficient.
On undulating roads near Monterey, Calif., Corvette is fun and confident, planting itself firmly in even the tightest curves.
The whole package is good enough that for the seventh generation of the car since Corvette rolled out in 1953, Chevrolet is declaring war anew on Porsche and other European sports cars.
In the process, it also is taking dead aim at younger, affluent driving enthusiasts who may have written off Corvette as their dad's plaything.
The average age of a buyer of the current Corvette has been climbing each year and now is in the high 50s.
It wants more of the upwardly mobile buyers in their 40s and even younger looking to reward themselves. Plus, Corvette attracts more blue-collar customers than other sports car brands.
Nothing wrong with that, but it does mean that more buyers have to stretch their budgets for one.
General Motors wouldn't mind having more fans rich enough to pick up a sports car on a whim, and take the top of the line.