The Grand Sport brings another level of performance to the Corvette lineup, slotting between the base Vette and the more high-performance Z06. It's a good sign when you don't want to stop driving. Neither of us did. The week we spent with the convertible was a perfect one with cool temps and no clouds. Time to put the top down.
Appearance: The Grand Sport name is a part of Corvette history, used most recently on a 1990s-era special edition known for its distinctive "hash marks" on a front fender. This new model revives those stripes in wider fashion. And this Grand Sport's body also has gotten wider, with fender flares to accommodate bigger wheels and tires than those on the base Vette. There also are other details that make the GS resemble the Z06, such as cooling ducts for the rear brakes, a front air inlet and Grand Sport badging on the side vents. Our low-slung convertible is set off by chrome aluminum wheels and premium Jetstream Blue Metallic paint.
Performance: We would have liked a manual tranny. We found the six-speed automatic a bit sluggish; it's better to work the gears in manual mode with the paddles, which you can shift from either side of the steering wheel, unlike those on some cars. The 6.2-liter V-8 base engine has more than enough power (0 to 60 in 3.95 seconds). With the optional dual-mode exhaust, it puts out 436 hp. It's surprising how compliant this car is in city driving. We both could see it as a daily driver. Peter felt the steering could provide a little more feedback, but the 19-inch rear run-flat tires (18 in the front) really keep the car grounded. The huge brakes provide plenty of stopping power.
Interior: Corvettes take a lot of criticism for their interiors, so we'll just say that our tester's had some nice touches courtesy of the $9,700 4LT Premium Equipment Group (mostly technology) and the $1,195 Heritage Package (mostly cosmetic). We loved the Head-Up Display, which projects speed/gear/tach on the windshield. Because of the low seating position, there's no problem with head room, but it can make the HUD awkward to see for taller drivers. The optional power convertible top opens in 18 seconds. You have to undo a metal latch (it requires a little effort and may be hot in the sun) before you push the button to open. The top folds into the trunk, which is roomy enough for the several weeks' worth of newspapers that Peter piled in for a recycling run.
Our 3 favorites
MPG: The automatic gets an estimated 25 on the highway — not bad for a massive V-8.
History: As a lifelong Vette fan, I still think it's America's sports car.
Exhaust note: The dual-mode exhaust sings.
Head-Up Display: Speedometer is reflected onto the windshield so you don't have to look down to check.
Trunk space: Most space I've seen in a convertible.
Color: The blue metallic is worth the extra $850.
The bottom line: The Grand Sport is a welcome performance upgrade from the base Corvette, but the option packages can push the price above $77,000, which lessens the car's status as a performance bargain.