LIKE DRIVING A Ferrari whose birth certificate says ‘Peugeot 406 coupe’ or going out with a girl who makes a living looking a bit like Kate Middleton, there’s a whiff of fake about the Corvette Grand Sport. Or at least there should be. Essentially this is the supercharged Z06, just without the supercharger or Z06 badge. Visually, it promises plenty. But with an entire western’s worth of ponies left on the cutting room floor, it looks as likely to under-deliver as a postman with chronic fatigue.

Happily, though, it turns out to be a cracking car - not to mention, at $65k in the US, a bit of a deal for locals. (Here, sadly, it’s a whopping £74,425). Particularly since the Grand Sport name itself is a big deal on its own, at least for Corvette fans. Back in the early ’60s the ’Vette team ignored a ban on factory-backed racing and came up with a very special sports car that, like the Shelby Daytona Cobra, was designed to deal with Ferrari’s dominance on the track. Sadly GM high-ups killed the project before it had given its best, but the romance lingers, and the badge has been resurrected twice before on special-edition Corvettes. Visually, this latest GS is almost a dead ringer for the wide-track Z06. Only the absence of the bonnet bulge needed to clear big bro’s blower gives the game away at a glance. Because instead of a 650bhp supercharged V8, you get the boggo Chevy’s comparatively modest 460bhp naturally aspirated version.

Not that it’s slow exactly. With 465lb ft ready to inflict a Chinese burn on the propshaft at your bullying right foot’s say-so, the standard Corvette gets to 62mph in 4.2sec, and this car’s fatter, stickier rubber, and fractionally lower kerb weight, helps knock a tenth off that. But the Z06 proper ducks into the twos.

That kind of performance costs, but still not as much as you’d think, in the US at least. A base ’Vette is $55k and the Z06 costs $79k (£63,295 and £90,455 in the UK). Funds permitting, you’d think most buyers would skip right past the $65k GS (£74k here) and go for the real thing. Maybe they will. But not if they get to drive the two back to back. While the GS might be barely quicker than the Stingray in a straight line, it’s so much more involving to drive. Sharper, grippier, less rolly. And it’s also much more manageable than a Z06. The Zed is a monster, a car that’ll get your heart pumping so hard you’ll worry it’ll throw a rod out the side of your rib cage. But it’s so rapid that you find yourself focusing on that power and not on the excellent chassis, the great steering and tight damping. The GS, then, strikes the perfect balance.

For Brits, the wrong-hand-drive layout, Chevy badge (didn’t they used to be Daewoo?), domestic Detroit cabin plastics and import costs that null the bargain price will always conspire to make it a niche player. But a modern Corvette is a properly credible sports car, and this GS is the pick of the bunch.