The 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is the most powerful production car ever from General Motors, and it's a technological landmark in the long lineage of Corvettes. It's also more affordable than you might think.

The 2015 Z06 starts at $78,995* – not chump change, but well below the price ranges of key competitors.

As was announced earlier today, the 2015 Z06 has a starting price of $78,995 for the coupe and $83,995 for the convertible, *including $995 in destination charges. That's not chump change, but it's well below the price ranges of several of its key competitors.

The Corvette has long been compared with the Porsche 911, but the Z06's 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque easily eclipses the most powerful 911, the Turbo S (560 hp, 516 lb-ft). The Z06 also costs less than half as much, as the Turbo S has a starting MSRP of $182,700, and then tacks on a $995-shipping charge.

A closer comparison – pricewise – would be the Porsche Cayman GTS, which comes in with an MSRP of $75,200 – that's $2,800 cheaper than the Vette. Thing is, it has 310 fewer hp.

The Audi R8 is a slightly more formidable competitor to the Z06 based on pure power. The V10 Plus has 550 hp, and its mid-engine configuration is a better layout for pure driving dynamics. But, its pricing starts at $173,500, not including a $1,250-destination charge. The base R8 with its 430-hp V8 begins at $115,000.





Then there's another long-running Corvette rival, the Dodge Viper SRT, and its 640-hp V10 engine. For 2014, the Viper costs $99,885, which is up $2,000 from 2013. Add in $1,995 shipping (your Viper does come in an enclosed trailer), and the total comes to $101,880. The price listed on the SRT website is $102,485, which includes the gas-guzzler tax, but not shipping. Regardless, it's about $22,000 more than the new Z06.

The all-wheel-drive Nissan GT-R, meanwhile, dials up 545 hp from a turbo V6 for $101,770, which rises to $103,365 with shipping.

The Z06 also grades out well in the world of exotics. The Ferrari FF produces 651 hp from its V12, which edges out the Z06 (barely), though the Ferrari only makes 504 lb-ft – all for a sticker of about $300,000 – though it does offer all-wheel drive.

Flipping the script on the Z06, the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat pumps out 707 horses for a price tag of $59,995 and a $995 destination charge brings the sticker to $60,990. That's more power for less money than the Corvette, but the Challenger is also a much larger car, and it's more of a muscle car than a sports car.

In this age of gaudy horsepower figures and prices, the Hellcat vs. Z06 is a fitting example of how modern sports cars are not all created equal. While the Hellcat can blow the doors off of the Vette with its power specs, the Z06 is assuredly a better track car. Porsche and Ferrari loyalists will naturally gravitate to and pay more for products from their brands, and no horsepower figure or "low-low" sticker price will change that. Plus, the sports-car segment is small enough in terms of sales so as to seemingly play by its own rules. No matter how much horsepower the Corvette has, it won't do much to erode GM's Corporate Average Fuel Economy standing.

While the Hellcat can blow the doors off of the Vette with its statistics, the Z06 is assuredly a better track car.

Still, the Z06 creates a seriously compelling value case for enthusiasts in search of power for a competitive price. Corvette spokesman Monte Doran reminded Autoblog that sharing parts and technology among Chevy vehicles has allowed the brand to keep prices of its high-end sports cars relatively low. The 2015 Chevy Corvette Z06 is the first Z06 to use a supercharged engine, the first to have a true convertible variant and the first to offer an eight-speed automatic transmission.

"Chevrolet has developed a successful model for sharing components with Corvette and other models in the portfolio," he said. "For example, the eight-speed transmission was designed for Z06, and will also be used in full-size trucks with the 6.2L; the carbon-ceramic brakes are shared between the Camaro Z/28 and Corvette Z06. This enables Chevrolet to offer stratospheric-levels of performance without stratospheric prices."

Dave Sullivan, manager of product analysis for AutoPacific, an automotive research firm, concurs:

"By sharing parts and components with higher-volume vehicles, GM can keep the price down on the Corvette," he said. "The Z06 could prove to be one of the memorable bargains of the century."

Sullivan expects the horsepower wars to continue, which is only good for enthusiasts.

"Look at the Ford GT a decade ago," he said. "It was about $150,000 for 550 HP and 0-60 in 3.7 seconds. For a little more than half that, you can get more power, better performance, and a car that the manufacturer is committed to building for many years to come. Inflation? What inflation?"