2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, redEnlarge Photo
The Grand Sport is sweet spot where the Corvette flashes its racing core without shedding its roadgoing fluency.
Think of it as a Z06 without the supercharged engine. The Stingray's 6.2-liter LT1 V-8 slips under the impossibly low hood, the Z51's dry-sump system keeping it wet and happy on the track while it rips off 460 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque.
Versus the Stingray, the Grand Sport gets an aero package of front splitters and a wickerbill spoiler, better cooling, an electronic limited-slip differential, and Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires 285/30ZR-19s in front and 335/25ZR-20s in back, hiding steel brakes with 14.6-inch rotors up front, 14-inchers in back.
In this trim the Grand Sport only adds 25 pounds to the Z51's curb weight, but yields 1.05g of cornering grip, depending on where the Performance Traction Management system is set among its five modes.
Stop here, and you'll never regret spending more over the tamer Stingray. The Grand Sport can comfortably fling its way around steamy Georgia two-laners without ripping itself to pieces over train tracks. It grips carefully but doesn't strangle corners, doesn't hammer its passengers. It's a sports car that can mimic a grand tourer without mocking those flabbier cousins.
You'll never uncover what it's capable of, though, unless you tick the next package and seek out the nearest track.
That package you'll want is the Z06's Z07 setup. It runs about $8,000, but gets supercar hand-me-downs of the highest order: Michelin Pilot Super Sport Cup 2 tires, carbon-ceramic brakes, Magnetic Selective Ride Control dampers, and a more aggressive aero package. A hundred pounds lighter than the Z06, this Grand Sport can turn in an identical 1.2g in ultimate grip.
A 7-speed manual is standard, but with the optional 8-speed automatic transmission, the Grand Sport Z07 can hit 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, and take the quarter-mile in 11.8 seconds.
A higher order
Yes, that makes it a half-second slower to 60 mph, and almost a second slower in quarter-mile, compared to a Z06. Those numbers are fairly academic at a course like AMP, where grip comes in just as handy than grunt.
Like a lot of modern-day Georgia, AMP is what the Dukes of Hazzard would build if they hit the lottery. In just under two miles of track, it packs in many more teachable moments than some other privateer havens.
It's also the perfect place to bleach out like a craisin in full helmet and HANS hardware, if you're up for that sort of thing. Suit up and wait. No one wants to come in early off their string of hot laps here. No one is asking, "please, no more triple-digit passes by the pits."
No one wants less Grand Sport.
For the TL; DR crowd, the Grand Sport fillets AMP like a boning knife. Forget launch control: the trick here is to toggle the Grand Sport into Track mode, let traction and stability control take a smoke break, and toy with rev-matching, see if you can beat its drill-sergeant powerband precision.
Bank out of the pits, and the Grand Sport pinballs into an uphill zig-zag before the first real test of your patience arrives. It's a medium-sized carousel that turns the Cup tires into paintbrushes--a little throttle here, a dab of brake there.