The Corvette is king when it comes to bang for the buck in the sports car world. For $50 grand, a base Vette will run tire to tire with $200,000 supercars from Ferrari and Lamborghini. All the go-fast hardware is there, including a 430-horsepower V8. But if you're looking for some exclusivity in your Corvette, you're looking at a 50 percent bump in price in order to make the leap from the base-model Corvette to the wicked 505-hp Z06. If you wished Chevy offered something in between — perhaps a standard Corvette with some of the chassis and styling tweaks of the Z06 — you can stop foraging for four-leaf clovers. For about $6,000 more than the base Corvette, the 2010 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport nicely fills this niche.
The Grand Sport sets itself apart from your buddy's Vette thanks to wider rear fenders, functional louvers in the front fenders and air scoops in the rear quarter-panels. Underneath the fiberglass skin there is additional substance, as the GS also provides brakes and tires upgraded to Z06 specifications, plus a firmer suspension that's essentially the same calibration as that of last year's now-discontinued Z51 package.
In a strictly rational sense, the 2010 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport doesn't make a strong case for itself. A standard Corvette offers similar performance and handling that's substantially athletic. In other words, a standard Corvette is more than enough for most drivers. And if you load up your GS like our tester, the price nudges the $70K mark, which is only about $5K off the 505-hp Z06. The $60,000-$70,000 price range also opens up other tempting choices, such as Porsche's more nimble Boxster S and Cayman S. And if you want the ability to seat four, then there's also the BMW M3 and the Ford Shelby GT500.
That said, nothing but a Corvette will do for plenty of folks we know (and we can't blame 'em). Go easy on the options, and the 2010 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport offers a nice middle ground between the common Corvette and the hyperactive Z06.
Though fitted with the standard Corvette's powertrain, the Grand Sport has no trouble throwing down killer numbers. Consider for a moment a 4.2-second 0-60 time, a 12.5-second quarter-mile time and a top end approaching 190 mph. Then remind yourself that this is the base Corvette's engine with a standard rating that is a healthy 430 hp. Our test car was fitted with the optional dual-mode exhaust that adds 6 more ponies. The latter also adds a great soundtrack when the big V8 spins past 3,500 rpm and flaps within the mufflers open up, decreasing backpressure and increasing the aural delight.
The six-speed manual transmission has a solid mechanical feel, and while the action is not quite rifle-bolt crisp, a run through the shift gates is easy and satisfying. And the effort level for both the shift lever and the clutch efforts are lighter than one would expect, adding to the Corvette's ability to easily serve as a daily driver.
Despite the muscle-bound performance, the 2010 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport (and every Corvette with this powertrain) is EPA rated at 16 city/26 highway mpg and 19 mpg combined. We averaged 14 mpg as we drank rather deeply from the cup of cubic inches.
Such a strong car needs strong brakes, and the Corvette Grand Sport has 'em. They're as big as the Z06's and allowed the GS to stop from 60 mph in just 103 feet, a stellar performance that's controlled by a progressive pedal. Furthermore, there was no fade during some rather hard exercise in the canyons.
Despite an ability to tackle twisty roads with athletic grace, the Corvette has never been known for steering feel, although things improved when the C6 generation of the car appeared. Now there's some feedback to go with its precision, though the effort level is still too light for some of us. Once you've acclimated to the burly width of the Grand Sport, you'll find it easy to place the car just where you want as you carve up your favorite back roads.
At the test track, the GS cut through the slalom cones at 69.7 mph, testament to the car's crisp responses and fine balance. With 275/35R18 front and 325/30R19 rear tires, the Grand Sport puts a lot of rubber on the road and the result is amazing levels of grip. On the skid pad, this Vette pulled nearly 0.98g in lateral acceleration, something that few street-legal cars can achieve.
As our test car had the 4LT package (a heavy hit at nearly $8K), it came with upgraded sport seats with multiple adjustments. The heavily bolstered buckets proved comfortable and supportive whether we were pushing it through the corners or just logging miles on the interstate. The steering wheel has an appropriately beefy rim and well-placed spokes for the old 9-and-3 hand positioning. The package also includes a power-telescoping steering wheel (tilt is standard), which helped short and tall drivers get an ideal driving position.
Given the 2010 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport's athletic nature, you might expect a harsh ride. But you would be wrong, as the suspension is supple enough to take the edge off pockmarked city streets. Even concrete freeway expansion joints produce little more than a pitter-patter from the tires. At highway speeds, the engine takes on a relaxed, muted burble that's in no way intrusive yet reminds you that you're driving something special.
Popping off the removable top takes no time at all, as it is very light and only requires the flip of a few latches. But due to the top's width, it's much easier if you have someone help you. The top then stows in the hatchback's cargo hold. At 22.4 cubic feet, maximum cargo capacity is even more generous than that of a Lincoln Town Car. Packing a large suitcase and a few golf bags is no problem.
Thanks to the standard keyless entry/ignition, you only have to hop in and hit the ignition button to make your getaway. The cockpit is ergonomically sound, and it's easy to access and use primary controls like the audio and climate adjustments. Large gauges are sharply defined. Though this car came loaded with options, it lacks park assist, something that would come in handy in a car with such limited rearward visibility.
The 4LT package also includes an upgraded Bose audio system that offers powerful sound with decent clarity, although picky audiophiles will likely wish for more separation.
Design/Fit and Finish
Though basic proportions of the Corvette haven't changed since the C5 version of this car, the 2010 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport still turns heads. The Grand Sport borrows its wider rear quarters and scoops from the Z06, while the front fenders have unique louvers that give the car greater visual presence than the Z06. The net effect is to our eyes the best-looking Vette in the lineup.
Inside the cabin, the design is familiar to anyone who's been in a Corvette lately — functional and driver-centric. But this test car proved notably more luxurious thanks to the 4LT option package, which includes stitched leather coverings on the dash and door panels. These upgrades complement the embroidered, two-tone leather-upholstered seats, going a long way toward upgrading the appearance of the Corvette's cockpit.
Build quality on our test car proved generally very good apart from an uneven gap across the top of the center stack and a driver's seatback that could've been more secure (it would wiggle slightly to and fro over big bumps).
Who should consider this vehicle
Serious driving enthusiasts would be hard-pressed to get more performance at thrice the price of a standard Corvette. But for those looking for something with a little more visual character and performance, the 2010 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport nicely fills the formerly large gap between the base Corvette and the romping Z06, provided you go easy on the options.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
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