Is the middle-child Corvette the perfect balance or too hot for daily use?
– Detroit, Michigan
Every version of this current Chevrolet Corvette is insanely capable at going quickly over the Earth. Massive power from 6.2 litres of American V8 is at the heart of the value proposition, and the Stingray version of the car is easily the best-handling base ‘Vette ever.
This Grand Sport version amps up the performance by improving brakes, tires, and aero. Stealing a page or two from the top-dog Z06, the GS would seem to be the perfect balance of streetable power with track-ready capability. Though sometimes I still found it to be slightly heavy on the track side...
- As Jake Holmes noted when he first drove the Grand Sport, this tune takes a very successful performance car and makes it feel special. Improved brakes and grippy Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires allow the car to shed speed and carry momentum, as you desire. And, like every Corvette, the overall sense of tactility and feedback is quite high, most of the time. This is a rewarding car to drive right.
- You can have the Grand Sport with either an eight-speed automatic transmission or the seven-speed manual of my test car. Having driven both, and even despite its touch of notchiness on quick downshifts, I’d have the stick shift every time. The gear lever feels mechanical without being overly heavy, and the short throws are a massively satisfying way of staying in this engine’s thick powerband. The automatic rev-matching feature is a cool party trick, too, though I found myself turning it off more than on.
- The 6.2-litre V8 is the same basic engine as is found in the lesser Stingray, but that doesn’t make it unworthy of a Pro in this Grand Sport trim. You feel every one of the 460 horsepower when kicking the spurs to this beastie; it’s hilariously easy to break the rear tires loose in the first two gears if tire smoke is your passion.
- The Grand Sport aero package is undoubtedly useful on the track, keeping hot bits cooled and the tires better stuck to the ground. But as a visual element – understanding that most owners won’t be at a track, most of the time – it’s a bit over the top. Or, perhaps “polarizing” is a better phrase. Some people will love the Batman-esque wings and flares of the GS, while others prefer the cleaner lines of the base Stingray; I lean towards the latter group.
- The ground-hugging bodywork and huge tires fitted to this Corvette aren’t easy to live with. I have a mediocre little slope to get up my driveway, and the GS didn’t stand a chance of mounting it without some serious scraping of that chin spoiler. Similarly, while the aggressive rubber leads to God-like grip on the track, it binds at low speeds and makes navigating a parking lot into a mini chore.
- My size – six-foot, five-inches, and around 250 pounds – makes me larger overall than most Americans, and only just able to fit behind the wheel of the Corvette. One of the most annoying factors about driving the car for me, in fact, is that my trailing knee knocks into the trunk release button just about every time I get out of the thing. I once popped the damn thing open mid car wash... not great. This is a very limited con, to be sure, but large six-footers might want to take a really long test drive before they buy.
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Photos: James Bradbury / Motor1.com