2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport first drive review Page 3

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2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, red

2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, red

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It's also just the first point where you have to brace yourself for Track mode's hefty, hefty steering weight. The current 'Vette has very responsive electric steering, pretty glorious in its connectivity. The Track setting seems to want to bold, underscore, and highlight: this still is a muscle car, even if it's dancing through this road course like Nureyev would through an episode of Hee Haw.

You might wish the Grand Sport would reassert the manual transmission's authority, but no. The 7-speed manual's slower around the track than the 8-speed automatic. It's still a linkage to the past that's worth preserving: you get the feeling you're cross-stitching the course, not barely grabbing it with four minuscule pads of rubber. Rev-matching helps you fumble through the first short-shift stretches, but just until you re-discover the Corvette's pedal placement is about ideal for heel-and-toe.

Ricochet from one deeply pocketed turn to the next wakes up the LT1. Do it all in third if you want: This Corvette is tractable and so predictable, even AMP's bedeviled back stretch doesn't upset it. Huge ups here have to go to the Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. They've made Ford's GT350R into a historic gem. In the Grand Sport, they give it the hero moves otherwise walled off in the Z06.

Those back bits of AMP are supposed to ape the 'Ring. A steep descent whips itself into an equally steep uphill right-hand bend, then blends into a big multi-apex carousel, all crafted to show off glaring handling deficiencies make racing interesting.

The Grand Sport shrugs it off. It does a deep-knee-bend or two, and waits until you're confident enough to reach beyond third.

2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, red

2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, red

Enlarge Photo

A spotter's guide, and some gentle advice

It takes some concentration to tell the Grand Sport apart from the Z06. The uber-Vette has its own high-clearance hood, but the Grand Sport gets a grille like that on the Z06 and the wide fender kit. Grand Sport taillamps are red, black or gray brake calipers are standard, and its wickerbill spoiler has no clear bridge or tall extensions because engineers found they made the car slower. (They're offered as accessories.)

Ten exterior colors have a few Grand Sport-specific hues, and an available Heritage package gets front fender hash-mark graphics in one of six colors. Also optional are full-length stripes in five colors, five wheel choices, and carbon fiber ground effects.

MORE: Chevy fixing overheating Corvette Z06s

A Grand Sport Collector Edition is coming. It gets Watkins Glen Gray Metallic paint, Tension Blue fender hashmarks, satin black full-length stripes, black wheels, and a Tension Blue full leather and suede-wrapped interior that would make Elvis jealous.

Base prices for the 2017 Grand Sport start at $66,445 for the coupe and $70,445 for the convertible. That's about $13,000 less than a Z06, about $5,000 more than a Z51, but for that increase, you get a track-ready halo car that's genteel enough to drive cross-country.

Remind us again of the point of a mid-engine Corvette?


 
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