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Review of the 2017 Corvette Grand Sport: The Grandest Sport!

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On: Sat, Jul 16, 2016 at 8:48AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Review of the 2017 Corvette Grand Sport:  The Grandest Sport!

Few cars in the world seem to be able to make it past a few model years. For the few models that do, some tend to fade away by trying to change its image, or make radical changes, or, on the other end, not change enough to keep up with the times and watch their customer base walk off towards some newer model. But, sometimes, there are some models that just have a special something. Some models are able to rise above the madness of the global need for new and different, and change with the times, instead of watching the times either change them beyond recognition or simply pass them by.

The Chevrolet Corvette is one of those models. For over sixty years, the Corvette has grown and evolved with the world and has managed to grow from a pretty, straight-line racer to a wonderfully balanced all-world sports car. There have been up years and down years, and while everyone is going to have their favorite rendition of the crossed-flags, no one can argue that the most recent seventh generation of the Corvette is a thing of beauty. The C7 is a world-class sports car that has the poise, power, and prestige to battle on the global supercar market with any car made in Japan, Germany, or Italy. But, like most models, the C7 has been out now for two full model years, and is already losing its novelty appeal. So, having to change up one more time, Chevy has decided to evoke a legendary namesake to spice things up at the Bowling Green plant for 2017. That name is Grand Sport.

Beginning in 1963 Chevy decided to build a car that would hold its own on the track against any and all comers. Powered by an aluminum 6.2-liter small block V8 that was rumored to put out a whopping 550 horsepower, this racer was a lightweight hot-rodded monster dubbed the Grand Sport. Of course, only five examples were made of the ’63 version, but they all still exist to this day. Fast forward thirty years later, and Chevy decided to end the C4 Corvette’s production run by resurrecting the Grand Sport trim one more time. They used a hi-po version of the LT1 (the 1990’s version) called the LT4 which produced 330 horsepower and was bolted to a ZR1 chassis. Fast forward again, only this time, fourteen years and the 2010 Corvette debuts again on a ZO6 chassis, and powered by another 6.2-liter engine. This time, it was the LS3, which pumped out 436 ass-kicking ponies. It should also be noted that the Grand Sport was the best selling production trim of the entire C6 Corvette generation. Hit that fast forward button one more time, and now, for 2017, Chevy has gone back to the well and brought us the C7 version of the Grand Sport, and this one is poised to be something special.

The Grand Sport uses the same all-aluminum, direct-injected 6.2-liter LT1 (the 2014 version) the base C7 uses, and pumps out the same wicked 460 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. Fortunately or unfortunately, the C7 GS is available with your choice of either a 7-speed manual with Active Rev Match, or an 8-speed automatic with a manual shifting mode. A dry-sump oil system helps keep things cool and keep oil where it needs to be (circulating through the engine) during hard cornering, instead of sloshing around the oil pan. Using the same template as previous generations, the C7 GS is set on the current ZO6 chassis, which is to say, it sticks to the track like a gum to the underside of an elementary school desk. That adhesion is due in not small part to things like the massive Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires that measure P285/30/ZR-19 up front and P335/25ZR-20 out back. These tires are basically slicks with just barely enough tread to qualify as DOT-approved to be street legal. Look behind those massive steamrollers and you’ll see optional 15.5-inch front/15.3-inch rear carbon-ceramic brakes that cut speed with enough force that it will make you think you deployed a parachute from the rear end. The standard issue magnetorheological shocks do a marvelous job of being the perfect wingman—easy going when you want to relax, and then all-business when it comes time to perform.

And perform it does. The Grand Sport is a Corvette and lives up to its name. While it sits on a ZO6 chassis, it doesn’t have the same gaudy power the Z possesses, but that doesn’t make it a slouch. Even though the GS weighs in at 3,428 pound, about 130 pounds more than a standard Stingray, the GS still manages to match or beat the Stingray in acceleration. This could possibly be due to its incredible adhesion to the tarmac, which could allow it to use traction to regain what its weight loses. The GS runs from 0–60 mph in only 3.6 seconds, from 0–100 mph in only 8.4 seconds, through the quarter mile in a blistering 11.8 seconds @ 118 mph, on its way to a top speed of 175 mph. But the real money card gets played on the track, where the GS starts to truly shine. While no official tests have been done yet, braking with the carbon-ceramic optioned ZO7 brakes are expected to go from 60–0 mph in less than 100 feet. The iron brakes won’t add too much more distance, if you opt out of the higher priced ceramics. Around the skidpad, the GS pulls a crazy 1.20 g, which is actually slightly better than even the ZO6. This car was born to corner.

Unlike some Grand Sport models of the past, you can opt for the GS and have it in any color scheme that the base Stingray is offered in. (We would opt for the traditional Admiral Blue Metallic with the Heritage red hash marks and full-length while stripe.) Also unlike that very first track version GS, the C7 version can be tame enough to drive everyday, if you want to. Tuned to Eco mode, you’ll think you might be driving a Scion around town. You’ll even get the mileage to prove it by posting a 20/28 city/highway mpg. Or opt for the Sport or Track mode, and you’ll soon realize the only way you’re in a Scion is if it powered by an engine built for NHRA. The reason for the difference in sound is due to the manipulation of the butterfly-valves on the exhaust for each specified driving mode. Not too shabby, Corvette.

Base price for the GS is $66,445, which is slotted right between the Stingray and the ZO6 (naturally). The 2017 Grand Sport is a wonderful addition to the very exciting, and popular, line of GS models through the years. It brings enough to the table to differentiate itself from its siblings and offer something we didn’t even know we wanted. it is a car that, although powerful, will almost never be able to overpower its chassis with its engine, presuming a moderately capable driver, of course. The Corvette has been around for decades, and the GS is just one more example of how this iconic car has been able to adapt and evolve for the times. While, each of the Grand Sport models have had their defining characteristics, both good and bad, the 2017 version may just end up being the grandest version ever.

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