Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Grand Sport packs some Z06 performance into base Chevrolet Corvette

The Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport can be had as a coupe or convertible.

Take an everyday Corvette, beef up its bod with wider fenders front and rear, throw on a cool-looking functional front splitter and rear spoiler, dress up the corners with unique wheels (we particularly like them in Competition Gray), then add some zing with a pair of stylized fender vents and you're halfway to Chevy's latest offering, the Corvette Grand Sport.

Slotted between the base model and the Z06, the Grand Sport is essentially an LS3-powered Z06 Light, if you will, using some of the mechanicals of the zoomier car to give folks seeking the ease of an entry-level Corvette with an extra dose of performance and visual appeal.

To that end, perhaps the most compelling reason a shopper might opt for the Grand Sport over the Z06: the option of an automatic transmission, unavailable in the hotter Vette. Chevy says up to 70 percent of Corvette buyers opt for automatic-equipped cars.

The Z06 does donate a goodly number of mechanical bits to the Grand Sport, including its 275/35ZR-18 front and 325/30ZR-19 rear Goodyear Eagle F1s. Peek between the five-spokes and you'll see the Z06's brakes tucked in behind, 14.0-inch vented and cross-drilled rotors clamped by six-piston calipers in front, with similar 13.4-inch rears held by four-piston calipers.

But the coolest carryover feature? Grand Sports equipped with the standard six-speed manual get the same dry-sump oil system used on the Z06's LS7 and the ZR1's LS9 V8 engines, giving the car's track cred a serious boost. Seeing as Chevy says the Grand Sport is capable of hitting more than 1.0 g of lateral acceleration, the system ensures that the motor will never be starved of oil, even on the most challenging road courses.

All of those Z06 goodies do add a bit to the price tag. Grand Sports are on their way to dealer showrooms now. Look for stickers to carry a roughly $5,000 premium over standard Vettes, with prices starting at $55,720.


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