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In this ongoing series, Boston.com talks with automotive authorities about why you should consider driving — or avoiding — a specific model.
2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
Unveiled at the New York International Auto Show in 1953, the Chevrolet Corvette is now pushing 65 years old, a fact belied by the latest incarnation of its youthful, racetrack-oriented Grand Sport edition. After a couple of years away, the Grand Sport returned for 2017 as the Goldilocks of the ‘Vette family – slotting between the nameplate’s entry-level Stingray and flagship Z06 – designed to bring the sports car into its seventh generation with grace.
The Grand Sport comes in three trims – 1LT, 2LT, and 3LT – with each available as a coupe or convertible. Like the Stingray, the track-focused Grand Sport gets a 455-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8. The Z06 is quicker and more powerful, supported by a 650-horsepower, supercharged, 6.2-liter V8 that helps rocket the two-seater from 0 to 60 mph in less than three seconds, almost a full second faster than the Grand Sport. All engines are paired with a seven-speed manual transmission and come with rear-wheel drive. Buyers can upgrade to an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.
The Grand Sport handles elegantly on a track, displaying remarkable grip, precise steering, and superlative braking power. The car touts the Z06’s Brembo brakes while featuring a wider, track-ready stance. Supportive bucket seats keep the driver and passenger cinched in around high-speed corners.
Inside, the Grand Sport comes with a cockpit-like dashboard featuring the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, a nine-speaker Bose audio system, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity. The 3LT trim comes equipped with Chevrolet’s Performance Data Recorder, which tracks real time performance metrics and captures video footage from the drive. All models are equipped with standard polished aluminum interior finishes and a lightweight carbon fiber hood and roof panel, but upgrades are available.
As Corvette fans know, the American automotive icon is geared toward speed, not stellar fuel economy. The coupe delivers fewer miles to the gallon than rivals such as the Porsche 911 Carrera S but more than the Ford Mustang GT350 and about as many as the BMW M4. The Stingray and Grand Sport achieve 16 mpg around town and 25 mpg on the highway. Meanwhile, the Z06 returns 15 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway; when equipped with the optional automatic transmission, those figures drop to a paltry 13/23 mpg city/highway.
The Corvette Grand Sport coupe starts at $65,450. The Stingray and Z06 coupes begin at $55,450 and $79,450, respectively.
What the experts are saying
“The 2017 Corvette Grand Sport is really a beautiful sports car that offers a lot of vehicle for the money. This iconic car has a lot of race history, back to the beginning of the Stingray; in 1963 Corvette Grand Sport packed a lot of punch and won many sports car races. If you’re serious about track day events, the Performance Data Recorder will allow you to keep real time performance data and capture video data for the future. Most drivers won’t be using this feature because they won’t be putting the vehicles on the track. However for the road, this is a large car that performs and sounds amazing. Sure you could drive it in eco-mode, but why would you want to do that! Overall, this is a great value for a reasonably priced sports car that can do double-duty on the track or on the road with excellent value.” – Lauren Fix, automotive analyst at The Car Coach
“The Corvette Grand Sport is arguably the sweet spot in the lineup, blending attributes of the standard Stingray with the go-fast upgrades offered on the Z06. It’s a wild, not mild, trim level that will satisfy the boy-racer ego of the enthusiast and deliver impressive levels of acceleration and tenacity, but a weekend boulevard cruiser — with no track aspirations — may find everything a bit too much. While it’s not exactly inexpensive, the Corvette Grand Sport is a genuine bargain when compared to its performance peers.” – Michael Harley, automotive analyst at Kelley Blue Book
“There are three models. The 650-horsepower Z06 really, really means 650 horsepower. The Grand Sport is the same as the Stingray but looks the same as a Z06. We sell a lot of Corvettes – we’re one of the top 20 dealers. What you get is almost a perfectly balance weight distribution from front to rear so it handles better, but you don’t get the massive weight or cost. Customers in that range have worked very hard all their lives and they can afford to pay 60, 70, or 80 grand. They know what they want. It’s the pinnacle of balance and power. Red’s the most popular color. If you don’t want to get stopped by police all the time, you’ll get the long beach red. The colors are unbelievable.” – Paul Masse, owner of Paul Masse Chevrolet in East Providence, Rhode Island