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2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport First Drive

On Monday, July 25th, 2016

Sometimes a place lives up to its stereotype. Atlanta Motorsports Park, which is about 90 minutes north of the city, was sweltering this week. The 2017 Corvette Grand Sport’s temperature display claimed it was nearly 100 degrees outside, and the humidity was almost comical. In the distance, thick thunderclouds were stacking themselves up, threatening to saturate the track and end the day early. We hurried to gulp down water and put on helmets, heading out for hot laps on a day set to broil. Luckily, the Grand Sport is always in a hurry.

2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand

It’s also, to cut to the chase, absolutely the Corvette you want if you have any intention of visiting a place like AMP on a regular basis. The base Stingray, a 1LT Coupe with no options, is plenty quick on the street but is missing some critical components to prevent grenading its engine or an expensive trip through the gravel trap.

Adding the Z51 package provides that peace of mind: a performance dual-stage exhaust that adds a few horsepower, sportier suspension (and available Magnetic Ride Control, worth every penny of $1,795), a rear differential cooler, an electronic limited-slip differential, and most importantly a dry-sump oil system to make sure the LT1 6.2-liter V8 is properly lubricated under high g-loads. A Z51 will circle the skidpad at around 1.03 g, bringing us closer to an ideal dual-purpose Corvette.

Without the Z07 package, the Grand Sport will corner at 1.05 g – a subtle improvement over a Z51 Stingray. With it, it’ll match the Z06 at 1.2 g. You don’t want just a subtle improvement. Spend the nearly $8,000 to option the Z07 package.

I bring up pricing because you may want to know what the Grand Sport is like on the street. We spent a few hours on the delightful, winding Georgia roads near AMP, and the takeaway was that the road is not the place to highlight the GS Z07’s subtler charms. Like a regular Z51 – a car in which I’ve logged hundreds of miles both commuting and exercising on public roads –

If you like the wide-body look but don’t plan on tracking your Grand Sport, skip the Z07 package and be (very) happy with the MRC and fantastic Z06-aping looks. If you have a club track nearby and want a car with near-supercar performance that you’ll enjoy even as it’s challenging you, spend for the Grand Sport with the Z07 package.

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