By KBB.com Editors
Few question that Chevrolet's sixth-generation Corvette is the best ever, or that the racer-like 505-horsepower $75,000 Z06 and the awesomely faster and surprisingly refined supercharged 638-horse $108,000 ZR1 models are the best high-performance sports car values on the market. But there has been a very substantial gap between the $50,000 base Corvette and that Z06. Now Chevy has introduced a pair of ultimate gap fillers, the 2010 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe and Convertible, for a mere $5,000-6,000 premium over base models. Chevrolet expects these Grand Sports to account for about half of 2010 Corvette sales, and – given their aggressive good looks and outstanding performance value – we see no reason to doubt that prediction.You'll Like This Car If...
If you crave a serious sports car more capable and visually impressive than a standard Corvette but far less costly than a Z06, this is it. With four-second 0-60 performance and 1 g cornering grip, why pay the premium for the fixed-roof, manual-only Z06 unless you need 75 more horses?
If you prefer an upscale German marque, two-seater choices in and below the 2010 Chevrolet Grand Sport's $55,000-60,000 price range include Audi's TT, BMW's Z4, Mercedes-Benz's SLK and Porsche's Boxter and Cayman. Nissan's V6-powered 370Z is another less powerful and much less costly alternative.
Essentially Z06s in body and suspension (minus the aluminum frame), the 2010 Corvette Grand Sports replace the former Z51 handling package with a happy marriage of Z06 looks and dynamics and the standard Corvette's 430-horsepower 6.2-liter V8. They are offered in removable-roof coupe and convertible models with 6-speed manual or automatic transmission.Driving It Driving Impressions
A step above a standard Corvette in performance (thanks to more aggressive gearing) and especially in dynamics, these new 2010 Grand Sports are civilized on the road and fiercely capable on a track. You could comfortably pilot one to work each day and hammer it around a race track every weekend. Testing manual and automatic coupes and convertibles on local roads and freeways, then brutalizing manual-shift coupes on GM's high-speed development track, we found much to love and little not to like. On climate-cratered Michigan roads, their ride was controlled but comfortable and compliant. On the track, their handling and stability were near-Z06 awesome. Acceleration was always strong, braking stable and powerful, and steering crisp and precise. Uphill and down, through hairpins, fast sweepers and tight, tricky esses, with standard stability control on, they take a slight tail-out set powering out of each turn then dig in and rocket toward the next one.Favorite Features
Standard with the six-speed manual transmission, this marvelous system modulates full-throttle engine torque 100 times per second to maximize available traction. The driver simply stands on the gas and side-steps the clutch for consistent four-second zero-60 launches every time.
Dry Sump Lubrication
Also standard with the six-speed manual, the Grand Sport's hand-built 6.2-liter V8 features racer-like dry sump lubrication with a remote oil reservoir to prevent oil starvation during extended high-g cornering. It also comes with a differential cooler and a rear-mounted battery.
Despite near-universal praise for performance-per-dollar value, past Corvettes have taken hits for plain, cheap-looking interiors. But today's C6 (sixth-generation) models are substantially improved over their C5 predecessors. Their dual-cockpit interior features much higher-quality craftsmanship and materials, including leather-like composite foam trim on the instrument panel and doors. An optional leather-wrapped interior package offers plush two-tone leather wall to wall with padded door armrests, an embroidered "Corvette" on the dash and crossed-flag emblems on the headrests. Controls are ergonomically excellent, and the full set of instruments is highly precise and readable.Exterior
Except for triple functional gills in the coves behind the front wheels, Grand Sport badging and (optional) dual "hash marks" on the front fenders, the Grand Sports look much like a Z06 on the outside. They share the Z06's wider front and rear tracks, wheels, tires and fenders and its aerodynamic front splitter and rear spoiler. Those front fender stripes are a visual salute to five Grand Sport racing prototypes built in 1963 by Corvette Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov and 1,000 limited-edition C4 Corvette Grand Sports offered in 1994.
2010 Chevy Corvette Grand Sports roll on large (275/35ZR18 front, 325/30ZR19 rear) high-performance tires on unique alloy wheels with Z06-size brakes – front 14-inch rotors with six-piston calipers and rear 13.4-inch rotors with four-piston calipers. The engines in six-speed manual models are hand built alongside Z06 and ZR1 V8s at GM's special engine build facility and boast dry sump oiling to protect them during sustained hard cornering. Standard on all 2010 Corvettes are keyless access, stability control, side airbags, OnStar with Turn-by-Turn navigation, AM/FM/CD radio with steering wheel controls, launch control (with manual transmission) and steering wheel paddle shifters with the optional automatic.Notable Optional Equipment
If 430 horsepower and 424 pound-feet of torque are not sufficient, an optional two-mode exhaust system bumps those already impressive numbers to 436 and 428, respectively. Two available interior packages fill the gap between the standard trim and the posh leather-wrapped cabin, and a Heritage Package adds front fender stripes and two-tone seats with Grand Sport embroidery. Additional major options include DVD-based navigation with voice recognition, Bose premium audio with XM Satellite Radio and a six-disc CD changer.Under the Hood
Purists complain that this LS3 V8's, with its single camshaft nestled deep in the center of its block driving overhead valves through long pushrods and rockers, is inefficient "old tech" compared to virtually all other modern engines with their camshafts mounted atop their heads. Yet the many advantages of cam-in-block construction – including lower cost and complexity, lower weight and center of gravity, easier build and serviceability and smaller overall size for a given displacement - help provide impressive performance value for GM's legendary small-blocks as well as Chrysler's HEMI V8s. Few can complain, however, about this non-turbo V8's prodigious power and torque and surprising fuel efficiency at the Corvette's affordable price.
430 horsepower @ 5900 rpm (436 horsepower with two-mode exhaust)
424 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4600 rpm (428 lb.-ft. with two-mode exhaust)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/26 (manual), 15/25 (automatic)
There is now a well-defined hierarchy within the 2010 Chevrolet Corvette line, beginning with the base Coupe at about $50,000 MSRP (Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price) and climbing through the Convertible at close to $54,500, the Grand Sport Coupe at just under $56,000 and Grand Sport Convertible at $59,000 before jumping to the Z06 at nearly $75,000. Among competing sports cars, Audi's $36K turbocharged four-cylinder TT coupe and Nissan's $38,000 V6-powered 370-Z are most affordable, while the 6-cylinder BMW Z4, Mercedes-Benz SLK and Porsche Boxter start in the $45,000-47,000 range. But matching even the base Corvette's power and performance requires a $131,000 480-horse Porsche 911 Turbo. To get the best deal on your Grand Sport, be sure to check our Fair Purchase Prices to see what buyers are actually paying in your area. As far as residuals go, the Corvette and Porsches lead the group and retain close, above-average residual values over time.