Every once in a while, an auto maker brings out a car that just does everything right. Generally speaking, these special cars are not the result of a focus group session or laying down the biggest power numbers. Instead, they're designed to please the true enthusiast and aficionado. That's the case with the 2010 Corvette Grand Sport.
What is a 2010 Corvette Grand Sport?
When you're thinking about buying a new Corvette, you can choose from three basic engine packages - the "basic" 430 horsepower engine, the base engine with an upgraded exhaust at 436 horsepower, the 505 horsepower Z06 engine, or the monster 638 horsepower supercharged ZR1 engine. You can also choose between chassis and suspension performance at the Base, Z06, and ZR1 levels.
What Chevrolet is now offering is the opportunity to perform some limited mixing and matching between the engine and chassis performance levels. Generally speaking, you can buy a suspension package one step up from the engine package.
The latest Corvette with upgraded suspension is the 2011 Z06 Carbon edition, featuring the Z07 handling package. This package delivers the critical chassis and suspension upgrades developed for the ZR1. But if you're happy with the 430 horsepower of the base Corvette (and really, who isn't?) then you should consider the 2010 Corvette GS, or Grand Sport. This car offers you the base engine in either a coupe or convertible format, but comes with the key Z06 upgrades to the suspension and brakes. The result is a car that hits the Corvette "sweet spot" of power and handling.
Sweet Spot Cars
Throughout sports car history, automakers have created base models and high performance models, and sometimes they offer unusual models that seem to split the difference between the race-bred high-zoot hot rods and basic economy version. Often these cars are not a creation of the marketing department, but rather, special cars that reflect the enthusiasm and best efforts of the engineers and designers.
A sweet spot car isn't necessarily the fastest car derived from a given model. What puts a car in the sweet spot is a combination of enough power, matched with excellent suspension and brakes and a perfect balance of the trade-offs inherent in sports car design.
Just a few examples of the sweet spot phenomenon include the Porsche 356SC and 911SC models, the Ferarri 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso, and now the 2010 Corvette Grand Sport.
The 2010 Corvette Grand Sport comes with the base LS3 6.2-liter 430-horsepower V8 engine. You have your choice of paddle-shifted 6-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission. Underneath, the Grand Sport includes the higher performance Z06 suspension and brake upgrades of the Z06. But where the Z06 and ZR1 models are available only in a coupe configuration, you can get Z06 handling and brakes in a convertible or coupe Grand Sport.
The Grand Sport replaces the previous Z51 package and you can tell a Grand Sport on sight by the wide-body styling, wider track, and wider wheels. If that's not enough, the GS has optional fender stripes (like the C4-era Grand Sports and the 1963 Grand Sports built in secret by Zora Arkus-Duntov).
On The Road
My perception of the Grand Sport as a sweet spot car was reinforced in a day I spent driving one around San Juan Bautista, California. The test car was a convertible, outfitted with the 6-speed automatic transmission.
I’ve driven the 505-horsepower Z06 and had the privilege of riding with record-setting GM engineer and Corvette racing driver Jim Mero in the 638-horsepower Corvette ZR1 at Firebird Raceway in Arizona, but I have to say that for 99% of us, the basic Corvette LS3 engine at 430 horsepower has more than plenty of power. I mean, the LS3 will push the Grand Sport from 0-60 in under 4 seconds. If that won’t float your boat, you’re being too picky.
The Grand Sport offers a firm yet supple ride, even over the sometimes bumpy country rounds around San Juan. As a driver, you feel connected to the road, but the Grand Sport is not a harsh-riding race car. You can take any corner with ease, and the Corvette responds to your choices as far as a leisurely cruise down the road, or attacking corners with spirited handling.
There’s plenty of power in the LS3 to kick your head back if you ask for it, and the modern electronically-controlled automatic transmission can shift better than you can – I guarantee it. There’s no apparent loss of power from the automatic, and the paddle-shifting happens instantly. Corvette purists may insist on a manual transmission, but I enjoyed the automatic and would consider that option for my own Grand Sport.
Price and Features
The price of the 2010 Corvette Grand Sport is another reason why this car hits the sweet spot - the coupe starts at $55,720 and the convertible at $59,530. That's not much more than the base 2010 Corvette starting at $49,880 for the coupe, and substantially less than the Z06 at $74,285.
The Grand Sport is fully featured for comfort, with power everything, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, alloy wheels, cruise control, hands-free Bluetooth phone support, AM/FM/CD sound system, and HID headlights. You have your choice of four trim levels, from 1LT to 4LT. They're all nice.
You also get the Z06 Performance Package, with independent suspension, power steering, engine oil, axle and transmission coolers, sport front springs and stabilizer bars, Z06 shock absorbers, and Z06 brakes with sporty cross-drilled rotors.
Options on the Grand Sport include those little fender stripes that tell the world you're in a Grand Sport, GPS navigation, heated memory seats, leather, dynamic cruise control, chrome wheels, premium paint, side impact air bags, 6-disc CD changer, satellite radio, and a power telescoping steering wheel. Check with your dealer for detailed pricing on those.
Next page: Grand Sport on Track, Good and Bad Points, Technical Specifications