Friday, November 4, 2016
2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
The latest generation Corvette, introduced in 2014, revived the Stingray name and the world went a little bonkers. Some felt that the complete redesign looked a little too Ferrari, while others bemoaned the new rear fascia. However, all agreed that the 6.2-liter V8 engine under the hood stayed true to the 'Vette's two-seat, rear-wheel-drive sportscar roots.
Introduced in 1953 with a six-cylinder engine and a two-speed automatic transmission, the Corvette didn't really become a true sports car until three years later. GM equipped the 'Vette with a small block V8 and a three-speed manual transmission and raced it in 1956 and 1957 at the 12 Hours of Sebring. Although GM didn't have a very successful campaign those years, it set the stage for the sports car we know today.
Through constant development both on and off the racetrack, that original six-cylinder, 150 horsepower engine has now morphed into its current 460 horsepower V8 iteration in the Corvette Stingray. Chevrolet also produces the ridiculously fast Z06 Corvette for those who wanted even MOAR POWAH, but with 650 galloping horses under the hood, the "Big Nasty" can be a little intimidating.
Enter the Corvette Grand Sport. It's like the Stingray and the Z06 had a baby, each giving the best of their DNA. The Stingray contributes the naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8 engine, knocking out 460 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. As part of its Z06 genes, the Grand Sport borrows the cooling system, bigger Brembo brakes and Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires.
Like all Corvettes, power goes to the rear wheels via the standard seven speed manual transmission, but an eight-speed auto is optional. An electronic limited-slip differential and Magnetic Ride Control suspension are standard, though also available on the base Stingray with the Z51 Performance package.
The Grand Sport offers five different driving modes: Touring, Sport, Track, Weather and Eco. I had the track all to myself at Gingerman Raceway in Michigan, a fun little road circuit just over two miles long, with plenty of late apexes and reduced-radius, off-camber turns. I set the car to track mode and zoomed out of the pit lane.
The Grand Sport can handle 1.05 g in the twisties, but Chevy sent me something just a bit better. My test vehicle came with the optional Z07 performance package, bringing in carbon-ceramic brakes, a carbon-fiber aero package and super-sticky Michelin Sport Cup 2 tires. It's a $7,995 option that helps you get around the track faster -- not by brute power, but by virtue of more downforce, better cornering capabilities and the chance to brake later into the turns...if you dare.
My first thought after turn one: "Holy mackinoly this steering is heavy!" I'm not one to shy away from using muscle, but in track mode the Grand Sport felt like it had no assist in the steering rack at all.
Still, the turn-in is very sharp indeed. The Magnetic Ride Control adjusts the suspension 10 times faster than the blink of an eye, keeping everything flat through the turns. The Cup 2 tires offer massive grip, and with the extra aero package, the car never got out of sorts. The brakes felt solid through all of my sessions, never fading or getting spongey. Essentially I just pointed the 'Vette and jammed on the gas, the Grand Sport obeying my commands with no trace of understeer, just good old American fun.
MGCLS - LAX Car Service