The 2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport is probably not what you think it is.It’s certainly not a ferocious factory racing machine, as the first blistered and vented Grand Sport was in 1963. And it’s not the wrapper in which a new version of the Chevy small-block V-8 is presented.
As a full member of the Corvette brood, the Grand Sport is available with either the seven-speed manual or the eight-speed automatic transaxles. In the case of the manual, it carries the Z51’s shorter gearset for livelier acceleration. Opt for the automatic and Chevy specifies the Z51 automatic’s 2.73:1 final-drive ratio in place of the regular Vette’s 2.41:1 ratio.
As we approach the parked car, we notice the nearly featureless treads of the tires textured with hundreds of little white pebbles adhering to the flat surface. It looks as if the Grand Sport rides on enormous nonpareil candies. And truth be told, these tires and those candies are not the most dissimilar things in the world.
This GS wears the familiar red-white-and-blue get-up. But 10 body colors, six fender hash-mark hues, and five stripe options will be available.
The suspension system is tuned to fit nicely about halfway between the Stingray and the Z06 on the passive-aggressive continuum. But each Corvette that wears the magnetorheological dampers (which come standard on the Grand Sport) has a mighty broad bandwidth of character. If you plotted the Z51, Grand Sport, and Z06 on a Venn diagram, you would find the ride and handling attributes clustered in overlapping sections. Such is the world of highly customizable, mode-shifting, electronically controlled automobilia. There’s not a bull’s-eye for ride and handling compromise. There are instead five dartboards, one for each of the distinct modes.
It’s a far cry from 1962, when Zora Arkus-Duntov developed the original Grand Sport racer on some of the same roads through GM’s Milford, Michigan, proving grounds where we’re driving the new car today. In the silent home-movie-quality footage of one of Arkus-Duntov’s drives, the father of the Corvette and two-time Le Mans class winner wears a sport coat, loafers, and a cue-ball-white open-face helmet while walking quickly to the car, a freshly lit cigarette dangling at a 45-degree angle to his face.
Step away from the spec charts and bench-racing arguments. The 460-hp LT1 V-8 provides more than enough power for almost everyone.
The GS’s Z07 package comes with the Stage 2 aero kit. The Stage 3, with its clear, adjustable wickerbill, was deemed too extreme for the model.
With greater aerodynamic drag than a Stingray, the Grand Sport will lose a couple of mph from the base car’s 181-mph top speed, says Juechter. The Grand Sport weighs an estimated 130 pounds more than the Stingray (for a total claimed weight of 3428 pounds). Still, Chevrolet figures an automatic Grand Sport with the Z07 package will get to 60 mph about a tenth quicker than a Stingray automatic because of the increased rear traction.
Otherwise, the Grand Sport feels like what it is: a Stingray with an enormous amount of grip. And it looks like what it is: a Z06 without the completely absurd power. At $66,445, the base price of the Grand Sport coupe is about $10,000 higher than an entry-level Stingray, roughly $5000 more than the cheapest Stingray Z51, and about $15,000 less than the least expensive Z06. The convertible Grand Sport starts at $70,445. This is the sweet spot, folks.
At those prices, with that look, expect that the Grand Sport will once again be big business for Chevrolet.