I didn’t expect this Corvette to be so good.
The 2017 Corvette Grand Sport felt absolutely ferocious under me as I powered through the curves and straights of the Atlanta Motorsports Park, a privately owned 2-mile track in the rolling hills of North Georgia, the site of the Corvette Grand Sport ride and drive hosted by Chevrolet.
The instant throttle response from the 460 hp LT1 puts down plenty of power to the super sticky Michelins and the Grand Sport slices through the corners of AMP while those huge carbon ceramic brakes provide plenty of stopping power. As temperatures rose to the mid-90s, the cooling features of the Z06’s widebody came into play, keeping those hot temps at bay as the Grand Sport dutifully performed lap after lap.
The 2017 Corvette Grand Sport is here! And it exists because you asked for it.
The previous Corvette Grand Sport commenced production in the 2010 model year – its sole purpose was to keep the Corvette faithful happy with a new model as sales dropped and the automaker limped through its bankruptcy proceedings.
Following the mantra of giving customers what they want, Chevrolet created the best-selling Corvette model of the C6 era as the Grand Sport accounted for over 50% of Corvette sales during its reign.
Corvette Product Manager Harlan Charles says the calls for a C7 Grand Sport starting approximately five minutes after the reveal of the Corvette Stingray in 2013. And once the Z06 arrived in its widebody form a year later, the calls for a Grand Sport model increased.
The Corvette team has long listened to its customers and have consistently delivered Corvettes that its customers want, as proven by the Z06’s convertible model and 8-speed automatic availability.
But it also wouldn’t be a surprise if that was just spin and that the Grand Sport was planned all along. After all, when you sold the model in record numbers previously, that has to factor into the long range plans.
You’ll hear a lot about the Corvette Grand Sport occupying the “sweet spot” between the Corvette Stingray and the Corvette Z06. And it’s all true. Where the Z06 can sometimes feel like too much car, with its supercharged 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque, the 460-horsepower naturally aspirated Corvette Grand Sport feels perfectly dialed in.
With the optional Z07 Performance Package (another request from customers), the Grand Sport gets the best of the Z06’s suspension and our favorite C7 Corvette option – Brembo’s carbon ceramic brakes. The larger super sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires are sized the same as the Z06 with 285s on the front 19″ wheels while the rears have the 335s on 20″ rims.
Track junkies will appreciate that the Grand Sport comes standard with Magnetic Selective Ride Control which monitors road conditions and updates the ride, as well as the included electronic Limited Slip Differential (eLSD) which monitors and can independently adjust torque to the rear wheels. Add the dry sump oil system and the additional cooling content in the form of the Z06’s front grill and larger air scoops and you’ll be able to turn lap after lap with confidence and the knowledge that the Grand Sport’s aerodynamic body is a direct result of the collaboration with the Corvette Racing team.
In the hands of a track novice, the Corvette Grand Sport will make you feel like a hero. The same Performance Traction Management system found across all Corvette models allows you set up the car according to track conditions. Not once on the track did we ever feel sketchy with the car.
But in the hands of the pro, the Corvette Grand Sport is a monster. As part of the test drive, Chevrolet hosted two pro drivers, Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin along with Former Corvette and Cadillac driver Andy Pilgrim. You can see Oliver’s lap here:
Driving the Corvette Grand Sport on a race track may be using the car as God (or Tadge Juechter) intended, but its abilities on the street is where the Grand Sport really shows its dual-use purpose.
The C7s are the most refined Corvettes ever to hit the streets and the Grand Sport can certainly be tailored to cruising the nation’s highways and byways in style and comfort.
Luckily Chevrolet was prepared for that part of the test drive as well with a fleet of Corvette Grand Sports, both coupes and convertibles, with the majority equipped with 8-speed automatics.
I headed out early for the afternoon drive and had my pick of the litter. The C7 Grand Sport Convertible in Admiral Blue with the White racing stripe called my name. I mean, if you are going to test a Corvette Grand Sport, it should look like the Corvette Grand Sport in its traditional livery. And not only that, the car was outfitted with the 7-speed manual and Competition Sport Seats.
The Corvette Grand Sport Convertible is a fantastic way to see the North Georgia countryside. Top down, wind in our hair with the radio blasting Sirius XM’s First Wave. This is the sort of driving experience that most Corvette owners will appreciate and the Grand Sport is every bit as capable as its Stingray and Z06 siblings.
In fact, if you’ve already owned or driven either the Z06 or Stingray, then you’ll feel right at home in the Corvette Grand Sport. All the award-winning technical features are the same, from Driving Mode Selectors to the Performance Data Recorder.
On the twisty Georgia backroads where the speed limit alternating from 45 to 55 mph, we put the Grand Sport Convertible into Touring mode which relaxes the car, improves the ride comfort and quiets the exhaust down to low rumble. You hear it under throttle, but not in an overpowering manner. Toggle the Drive Mode Selector into Sport and the car snaps to attention. The steering is more precise, the ride is more tuned for performance and the exhaust sound commands respect even when the car is at idle.
For the Corvette owner who will do little or no track driving, the Z51-based chassis is a great value when combined with the Z06’s wider, sexier body. And for Corvette owners, especially the “cruisers” and “polishers” out there in Corvette land, the door has been opened to a new level for customer personalization.
Allowing Corvette owners the ability to customize their cars through the order process is something that Chevrolet has gotten very good at it over the years. The 2017 Corvette Grand Sport might be the most configurable Corvette in modern history.
While we choose the familiar Blue and White traditional Grand Sport livery, Chevrolet has gone out of their way to offer a number of ways to customize the look the Grand Sport: Ten exterior colors combined with five different Grand Sport Center Stripes (with matching hood vent) and six different colors of Hash Marks.
When you add all those up, it’s over 300 different exterior combinations. And that’s just for starters.
Chevrolet also offers various wheel packages and brake caliper colors with each Corvette model having its own base wheel and caliper color. For the Grand Sport, the default wheel design is known as the Cup Wheel and they are offered in Nickel-Plated Aluminum as standard with four other color choices ranging from $495 to $1995. The Grand Sport’s calipers will be offered in Black as the standard color.
The Corvette Grand Sport starts at $66,445 for the Coupe or $70,445 for the Convertible. The options and equipment costs are same as the Stingray for the 1LT, 2LT (+$4,455) or 3LT (+$9,745) trim levels while the Z07 package add an additional $7,995 which is the same price for the option on the Z06s, however, you are not forced to buy the additional aero packages which start at $2,995.
For owners that want to customize their color selections through the Grand Sport Heritage Package, Chevy is offering it for just $795 and it can be selected on all trim packages (1LT-3LT).
Or you can even skip the Heritage Package altogether as Chevrolet is offering the three Design Packages, Spice Red, Black Suede or Twilight Blue for the Grand Sport as well the Corvette Stingray and Z06.
Later this year, Chevrolet will also be offering the Grand Sport Collector Edition which will be offered in Watkins Glen Gray with the Torsion Blue interior and Hash Marks. The Collector Edition Grand Sport will be limited to 1,000 cars. They didn’t allow us to drive the Collector Edition (as there is only 1) but they did have the prototype to show:
Having spent two amazing days with the newest Corvette model, we can say the 2017 Corvette Grand Sport does occupy that sweet spot between the Stingray and Z06 in more than one category and with the exterior customization options, it stands in a class by itself. The wider, more aggressive looking body combined with the wider Michelins underneath give the car that “race-inspired” stance that reminds us that this car is a direct relation to the 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning Corvette C7.R.
There will always be those Corvette owners who will crave the Z06 and its 650 horsepower and God bless them! But we think the Corvette Grand Sport is the perfect balance between appearance and performance, and is the perfect Corvette for the cross country trip, daily commute or a fantastic day at the track.