Story and Pictures by Benjamin Greene
Originally published by Dupont Registry: http://www.dupontregistry.com/autos/NewsCenter/NewsCenterDetails.aspx?mmysid=3929
"Have fun with the Z06 Grand Sport” and “oh, I thought it was a Z06” are just some of the comments we heard regarding the Jetstream Blue 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Convertible we had in our care (and we use the term “care” loosely). It looks and sounds the part, and we can easily see where a non-Corvette aficionado may mistake the Grand Sport for its bigger brother. (It is visually only set apart by gills just aft the front wheels and the optional hash marks on both fenders included in the Heritage Package.) The Grand Sport replaces the Z51 performance package and is really a bridge in both price and performance between the base Corvette and the Corvette Z06 in the same manner the Z06 is a bridge to the ZR1. The Grand Sport starts at $54,790, which leans more towards the $48,950 base price of the Corvette Coupe than the $74,305 it costs to take home a Corvette Z06.
It does make less power than the Z06 (505 hp versus the 436 hp from our test car, which was equipped with the optional dual-mode performance exhaust) but the LS3 is no slouch and may produce as much power as most people really need or can handle. GM says the Corvette Grand Sport is a tad faster, which may be contributed to its revised suspension (and maybe the shorter axle ratio on the automatic-equipped cars). Cars with manual transmission benefit from closer gear ratios and dry-sump lubrication stolen right out of Z06 and ZR1 engines. (To employ the latter, the engine has to be hand assembled along side the LS7 and LS9 in the aforementioned cars.)
The Corvette is about brute power and the Grand Sport has that in droves. The madness of acceleration is only further enhanced by the bark of the exhaust under sudden throttle changes and pops from the pipes resulting from suddenly lifting off the throttle to slow down all the fun. Our test car came with an automatic transmission, which gave the beast a little bit of a bucking nature when modulating the throttle. The Cadillac CTS-V, despite churning out more power, feels more linear and more refined in its power delivery than that of the 'Vette, which had a more explosive all-or-nothing nature. The Corvette borrows its crossed-drilled disk brakes clamped by six pistons up front and four pistons at the back from the Z06. Braking performance is absolutely stunning although they can be a little grabby upon initial activation.
Replacing the Corvette's previous Z51 package, the Grand Sport comes with wider front and rear fenders that work well with the wider wheels and tires, revised shocks, and new stabilizer bar and spring specifications. The car rides rough but is flat, stable, and glued to the road in nearly every corner.
The interior was dressed in custom leather and its sport buckets featured perforated leather inserts thanks to the $9,700 optional 4LT premium package. The leather with contrasting color stitching looked tasteful and had a good feel. However, the top-of-the-line interior refinements did not get rid of all the tinny areas (like the door speaker covers, for example) and the car still suffered from inconsistent rattles over even the slightest road imperfections. The driving position sits more forward and higher than the Corvettes some testers remembered from yore and, combined with the okay chairs, provide a comfortable driving position despite sitting so close to the ground.
Compared to its siblings, it is hard to go wrong with the Grand Sport. It provides most of what the Z06 offers with a lower price tag which, in our minds, makes it the best Corvette available if you’re not a track kingpin. Besides, most people will think it is a Z06.
$58,600 ($77,800 tested)
436 hp @ 5,900 rpm
428 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm
4.2 seconds (estimated)
186 mph (estimated)
Front: 275/35ZR-18, Rear: 325/30ZR-19
Everyone will think it is a Z06—even you
Sticky Goodyears don't work well in the rainy weather