In a world where the naturally-aspirated engine is dying and is soon to be extinct, any company which still offers such a proposition is applauded for their efforts alone. Sure the world has the Camaro Z/28, 911 GT3 RS, and even the Mustang GT350R, but there was always a piece missing, until now.
The latest Corvette model to be announced revives the legendary Grand Sport name. A name which was originally fitted on 1963 Corvettes that dominated race tracks and climbed many podiums. The last time it was properly used was in the C4 Corvette and now it’s back again with the C7 generation. So what exactly is this new model? As expected, it’s a lightweight track car that’s more serious than ever. Showcased at the Geneva motor show, the 2017 Grand Sport offers the same 6.2 liter V8 found in most Corvettes but here it’s naturally aspirated, offering no supercharging or turbocharging what so ever. This results in 460 screaming horsepower coming from the LT1 V8 engine.
Although power may not be in the crazy 600 horsepower range of the Z06, the maximum focus here has been put on driver involvement. The lack of any supercharger or turbocharger means that all of that power is wired directly to your foot, eliminating any lag and providing instant feedback and response from the car as well as the engine. Because it’s a track-oriented car, you’d be right in expecting even higher handling limits. The way they’ve achieved this mainly is by widening the car. A typical solution to a lot of problems, expand the car’s width and you’ve suddenly got something noticeably better.
In the case of the Corvette Grand Sport, this is exactly what has happened. It’s a blend of the standard V8, wider wheels, wider body and wider suspension components setup. Starting with the wheels, we find 19-inch and 20-inch front and rear wheels respectively. The front ones are wrapped in 285/30 and the rears offer 335/25 boasting Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. The standard Magnetic Ride Control is present as well as specially tuned anti-roll bars and transverse leaf springs. There are wider rear fenders, and the grille while the cooling system is carried over from the Z06.
Main competitor: Porsche 911 R
This does beg the question. With the Z06’s cooling problems on track, do we expect the cooling system will suffice here because there’s no supercharger, or will the Grand Sport suffer the same issues as its bigger brother? We expect it will be problem free since the standard car has no cooling issues, and with an even better cooling solution, the GS should have no problems as well.
Interior layout is almost identical to what we are getting in other models in the lineup but it does come with few unique touches. Hash mark details on brushed aluminum give it a slightly higher level of refinement but this is not the main goal Grand Sport has. Everything is driver oriented and you will notice this immediately when you enter the cabin and sit in your seat. Right above the gear shifter, there is a decently sized screen that offers various information’s about car and ride while behind the steering wheel we have large rpm gauge that will allow you to perfectly hit every gear shift.
Engine power is only a part of the story for every car that chases top level performances, you need to keep everything in control and find a way to quickly reduce and optimize speed just before you hit the corner. Responsible for stopping this beast on the track are 14-inch front and 13.4-inch brakes. The fronts are six-piston while the rears are only four-piston. Interestingly, the brakes are much bigger than the optional brakes found on the Z51 package, but smaller than the Z06 which is to be expected, considering the mind-altering speeds the Z06 can achieve with its 200 horsepower advantage over the Grand Sport.
As mentioned, the engine is the glorious 6.2 V8 offered here with the 7-speed manual or the eight-speed automatic, although we suspect most Gran Sport customers will opt for the manual version, seeing as how the Gran Sport is largely for track enthusiasts. This sports car is available as a coupe and a convertible, so pick your weapon wisely. One offers a bit more stiffness, the other a few more decibels of glorious V8 noise with the roof taken off. Either way, it’s a win-win situation no matter which body type you go for.
There’s a variety of color choices too, and even the fender has stripes which can be specified in 6 different colors! There are full-length body stripes running along the length of the car, and even they can be specified from the same palette of 6 colors. The car’s posture is very aggressive and there’s no denying it looks cool. Maybe not dripping with Z06 presence, but certainly more than the standard Corvette
The best thing about the 2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport is probably the fact that it comes with the Z51 dry-sump lubrication system. This may not be that relevant for daily driving, but on a race track especially in hot weather, it makes a world of difference. The lubrication system handles engine oil during hard cornering, something lots of people will be doing with the Grand Sport as that’s its main purpose. With this in mind, it was not only adequate but necessary to fit this system.
The Grand Sport may not be able to achieve the ridiculous 1.20 G’s during cornering, but it manages a more than respectable 1.05 G’s of cornering forces. Now you understand why that lubrication system is the best choice for this vehicle.
GRAND SPORT COLLECTOR EDITION
There’s a special edition of the 2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport for those who want even more individuality. Called the Grand Sport Collector Edition, this Vette has a Watkins Glen Gray Metallic paint unique to this car alone, and Tension blue graphics paired with satin-black racing stripes, black wheels and special Tension Blue interior. Expect it to come in limited numbers and be mostly bought by collectors as the name suggests, although we suspect a few will make it into the hands of enthusiasts who will drive the bolts off of them.
The idea of upgrading an already fast sports car into a track-ready performance car is always exciting. The 2017 Grand Sport does exactly this and truth be told it’s difficult to find faults in this car. For the track-freaks out there Corvette is even offering a Z07 package on top of the already massive extent of upgrades, which brings carbon ceramic brakes and Michelin Pilot Sport 2 Cup tires. Expect to be the fastest car at the track should you specify the Z07 package.
2017 CHEVROLET CORVETTE GRAND SPORT PRICE
Fans of the ultimate will still have to turn to the Z06 for full-on crazy levels of performance, but for most people the offer of Grand Sport will more than suffice. Prices haven’t been officially announced, but considering the bargain-of-the-century $80,000 price for the Z06, expect the Grand Sport to be reasonably priced. Latest reports suggest that this one could come with $56,395 price tag. We’ve already started saving for it. And yes, with the optional Z07 package added of course. As the most likely release date, we could hear the summer of this year but we didn’t get confirmation on this.