My first spin in the new Corvette Stingray was, let’s say, underwhelming. I wheeled it around a Chevy test drive event at the Texas State Fair, topping out at 8 miles per hour, with the massive Texas Star Ferris wheel looming overhead. I was intrigued enough, though, to take the vehicle out for a real test drive a few weeks later.

The new Stingray is the most powerful standard Corvette model ever, cramming 455 horsepower into its aluminum frame. Its now-standard Michelin tires churned the road as I made my way out of downtown Dallas. The steering was tight and responsive, and the suspension made even big bumps seem as smooth as glass. Although some V8s can feel overpowering, this one was composed, its sound powerful but not overbearing. Like Jimmy Page on “Stairway to Heaven,” the noise is there when you want it.

2014-Chevrolet-Corvette-Stingray-2 FIGHTER-JET INSPIRED: The car interior includes a secret compartment. Go ahead; just try and fint it.

The Stingray’s legacy is mixed. In the 1960s? Beautiful classics. Early 1980s? Probably best we don’t discuss. The 2014 return to the Stingray name blows up the model and reinvents it. Out are the iconic round taillights, in are rhombus-like pops of fire, highlighting the car’s swooped back. The interior—something Corvettes have been beaten up about in the past—is comfortable and modern, its seats fully prepped for the long haul. Its fighter-jet inspired interior includes a secret compartment. One thing to watch for: Blind spots can be a problem.

As I blurred down Interstate 20 one afternoon, I came up on another Corvette, probably a sixth-generation, 2008 or so. As I passed, I caught the driver’s eyes drifting to the car. We bounced back and forth a bit, him nudging ahead, then me. Eventually I let him go, content in the knowledge that the 455 horsepower could have taken him.

A few minutes later, though, I approached a Jaguar F-type. I punched the accelerator. It’s safe to say I finally went faster than 8 miles per hour.