An exhaustive Google search — 0.69 seconds — offered this definition of style: “A distinctive appearance, typically determined by the principles according to which something is designed.”
If that “something” happens to be a sinuous, low-slung, wide-tracked, muscular two-seat American sports car, burbling with power and endowed with supercar handling, then the Corvette Grand Sport definitely lives up to its design principles. Boy howdy, does it.
Slotting into the seventh-generation Corvette lineup between the Z51 and the beastly (650-hp) Z06, the 460-hp Grand Sport exuberantly showcases styling and performance elements from both vehicles. Wisely cherry-picked by Corvette’s engineering team, those elements constitute a ferocious-looking, track-chomping monster that also comfortably devours highway miles.
Yet it’s remarkably docile and compliant in town. Nordstrom parking lot patrons won’t even know you’re there — until you stomp on the accelerator while in park and unleash that glorious, throaty roar from the four exhaust trumpets.
From a style perspective, the sleek silhouette is unmistakably Corvette — there’s simply nothing else from American automakers that makes such a bold statement. The Grand Sport resembles the Z06 with the same working air vents fore and aft of the doors and the slightly wider (3.5-inches) stance. Optional stripes and hash marks pay homage to the five Grand Sport race cars built in 1963 under Corvette’s first chief engineer, Zora Arkus-Duntov.
What makes the Grand Sport really special, though, is what lives underneath all that youthful design swoopiness.
The suspension is tuned like the Z06, but the Grand Sport has its own springs, stabilizer bars, an electronically controlled rear differential and Magnetic Ride Control (MRC), which GM touts as the world’s fastest damping suspension system. Originally conceived for Cadillac, MRC uses a revolutionary fluid infused with magnetized particles that adjust to different driving conditions and speeds and serve as traction control for both road and track.
MRC assists with dialing up the 3,500-pound Grand Sport’s five distinct ride settings — weather, eco, tour, sport or track — with subsets also available.
The ride can go from luxury cruiser to race-car bruiser in a trice. Maybe half a trice, which comes in handy when that fabulous LT1 6.2 liter V8 unleashes those 460 horses and 465 foot-pounds of torque on an open, preferably curvy road, where you can test the 0-60 mph time of around 3.5 seconds again and again.
Behind the wheel, you get the feeling that Corvette’s engineers built the Grand Sport for their own amusement and satisfaction, as well as ours. Power gets to the road via a short-throw standard 7-speed manual transmission (an optional 8-speed automatic is available). The wheels (19-inch front, 20-inch rear) ride confidently on Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. Big Brembo brakes — 14.6-inch rotors with six-piston calipers in front and 14.4-inch rotors and four-piston calipers in the rear — bring all that go to a whoa in a hurry. The net result — a thrilling, assured, grippy, balanced driving experience.
The cabin comes with three available levels of trim in a combination of carbon fiber and/or aluminum trim, hand-wrapped leather materials and dual eight-inch configurable, color driver/infotainment screens. All the usual high-tech connectivity options are available, along with a head-up display and a system to record your track times, as well as to monitor those pesky valets who think they’ve finally gotten their hands on something good. Which they have, but it’s yours, not theirs.
Style? Check. Power, handling, performance and braking? Check, check, check and check again. With all this excellence, the 2017 Corvette Grand Sport lives up to its vaunted name and then some.
Best of all, the price: The base Grand Sport starts at $66,445. The optional Z07 package ($7,995) includes larger Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. The convertible starts at $70,445. Compare these prices to European exotics and there will still be enough left over to buy another Grand Sport. Maybe two.
Hey, nothing says style like accessories. And what says accessorize better than a garage full of Corvette Grand Sports?
Brian Melton inherited his love of cars from his mom: She drove T-Birds, Jaguars and a much-loved silver Mercedes 450SL with an unrepentant lead foot.
Our thanks to Moritz Chevrolet and to Derek Johnson (internet sales) and sales manager John Beam, who obligingly allowed us to worship at the Corvette altar while exploring the Grand Sport’s vast capabilities.
Get yours at:
9101 Camp Bowie West
Bruce Lowrie Chevrolet
711 S.W. Loop 820
3118 Fort Worth Highway
1200 W. Interstate 20
1101 W. Texas 114