Are you shopping for a new seventh-generation Chevrolet Corvette? If you are, good for you, because that means you have some money to spend and you've chosen the best performing generation of 'Vette ever built.
The base Corvette Stingray is relatively affordable compared to the competition and can often be found on dealer lots for less than its $56,445 MSRP. The Z51 adds a greater layer of creature comforts and performance for about $61,000 If you have a serious desire for supercharged insanity, the Z06 beckons from on high with a pricetag around $80,000.
Here's why you should skip all of those, though, and get the greatest Corvette in the lineup: the Grand Sport.
On paper, it appears that the Grand Sport slots neatly into the family tree on a branch that sits above the base and Z51 models and well below the massively powerful Z06. Of that group, the Grand Sport is the purist expression of Corvette performance. You pair the naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V-8 engine with all of the chassis and aero excellence offered on the Z06, and you wind up with an endlessly capable car both out on the street and at the track.
Chevy engineers have given the Grand Sport a brilliant chassis. Magnetic Ride control suspension comes standard, as does the wider rear track from the Z06. You also get all of the driving modes you'd find on any Corvette, but here they can work serious magic since you're not dealing with either the less aggressive performance bits on the lower tier models or the hyper-powerful engine (and it's cooling needs) of the Z06.
Put simply, you are in the Corvette sweet spot with the Grand Sport.
2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, redEnlarge Photo
If you don't think 460 horsepower is enough, then you must be used to beastly machines. For the other 99 percent of the enthusiast planet, the Grand Sport's 460 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque is more than enough to tackle your favorite twisty road, that challenging corner at your favorite track, or your boring slog to work every morning. That's because the Grand Sport is more than comfortable enough to be used as a daily driver.
The current generation Corvette cockpit is a fairly refined and focused place to sit. The seats are no longer leather-covered church pews but rather competition-grade buckets that hug you tight. Your feet will find the pedals perfectly placed for heel-toe corner entries, but if you're not up to the task you can turn on the rev-matching system and let it turn you into Oliver Gavin.
Maybe that 7-speed manual gearbox isn't your bag? Well Chevy has an 8-speed automatic that might suit you. It's not as good as the manual, and it's not quite as good as other 8-speed gearboxes (Hey ZF, how you doin'?), but it certainly helps ease the Grand Sport into grand tourer territory when required.
2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, whiteEnlarge Photo
With a starting price around $66,000, the Grand Sport saves you about $14,000 compared to a Z06. It costs only a few grand more than a Stingray Z51. And for that money, you get much more car than the Z51 and a better all around driving machine than the Z06. If you can spare a bit more coin, however, we urge you to choose the Z07 package as well.
This is the first time Chevy has offered the Z07 package on the Grand Sport, and it ups the performance levels quite a bit for $7,995. Massive steel rotors are swapped out for no-fade carbon ceramic brakes. The aero package is added, and the Michelin Pilot Sport tires are swapped for impossibly sticky Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber.
Without the Z07 package, the Grand Sport can hit 1.05 g in the corners. Add the Z07 package, and your Corvette now sticks to the pavement to the tune of an amazing 1.2 g. It will also stop from 60-0 mph in less than 100 feet.
Dear sports car shopper, if you're looking for a Corvette ignore the other models and focus in on the 2017 Grand Sport. It's the greatest expression of all the characteristics that make the Corvette exciting. It's the distilled Corvette experience.
It's not the one you should buy, it's the one you have to buy. This is Corvette heritage, evolved...and it's become a world class sports car that can compete with anything out there.