2011 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
Looking at the Corvette from the outside, one might expect the ride to be something akin to waterboarding. But while the ride is more than a little on the stiff side, it’s actually generally pleasant around town, on all but the most pock-marked pavement. However, the low, low ride height is not very speed-bump friendly. High speed bumps most be taken at a creep in first gear--otherwise you’ll hear an expensive-sounding “scrunch” from the front fascia.
Overall, when driven at commuter speeds, the ‘Vette is very relaxed and comfortable. The exhaust fades politely into the background, the steering does what it’s told, and even the heavy clutch and shifter act commuter-friendly.
My tester had the removable roof panel, and once I figured out the correct un-latching procedure, I found it easy for one person to take it on and off, although it is a bit awkward for just one person to carry. It stows nicely in the rear cargo area, but it eats a huge chunk of the already relatively small space. Still, my briefcase fit below it with ease.
Lots of auto writers have carped about the Corvette’s seats--in fact, enough ink has been spilled in regards to those thrones that one could print another run of Crime and Punishment. And the complainers have a point. For casual driving, the seats are fine, but they wear on the body on highway drives, and they just aren’t the proper seats for hard driving. A car that costs as much as a college education and can deliver such visceral thrills deserves better seats. Much better seats.
And a better interior, while we’re at it. While the head-up display is handy and the gauges are attractive, the switchgear and materials feel downright down-market. When a $70K car has an interior that draws comparisons to the late, unlamented Cobalt--not a compliment--that’s a problem.
Fuel economy is probably the furthest thing from the minds of most Corvette shoppers, but for those who are curious, my tester was rated at 16 mpg city/26 mpg highway. Given how tall sixth gear is, I don’t doubt that mid-to-high 20s are achievable during a relaxed highway cruise. I measured a measly 14.8 mpg combined over 225.8 miles on the one tank I measured, but that included a lot of urban driving and a few lead-footed shenanigans.
With the hiatus for Dodge’s Viper, the Corvette stands as the last great American two-seat, big-power sports car. The Grand Sport will appeal most to those who want stronger performance than what the base car--no slouch itself--offers but who can’t afford a Z06 or the king of the hill ZR1.
Sure, it needs a new interior and better seats, and it’s not the world’s most practical car. But find a nice stretch of unmolested asphalt and wind the exhaust to 11, and you might find that you just don’t care.