by Roger Biermann
The Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport has been lauded as having one of the finest balanced chassis around, but the standard coupe (technically a targa-top convertible) has a lot more rigidity than the soft-top convertible. In losing a rigid roof and adding weight for roof operation mechanisms, the Corvette Grand Sport convertible's Z06 chassis may well lose a chunk of its endearing dynamics, but it still retains the character and responses from its naturally aspirated LT1 V8. With rivals like the Jaguar F-Type, Porsche 911, and even the Audi R8 Spyder around, being mediocre simply isn't enough, the Grand Sport Convertible needs to be exceptional.
The small, low slung cockpit of the Corvette Grand Sport only seats 2 occupants, and in a relatively snug fashion, but there's plenty of leg room for even the tallest of drivers to find a comfortable seating position. As for head room, with a roof, it's plentiful, but drop the top and the wind in your hair in a classically named Corvette is about as idyllic as it gets.
The asymmetrically designed cabin favors the driver, but the passenger gets a uniquely crafted door with its own grab handle when things get scary. Between the leather cladding and some cheap plastics, you'll find Chevrolet's 8-inch MyLink infotainment system. It's surprisingly useable, and includes full Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality, though navigation is optional. As if you'd ever need them all, there are 3 USB ports to be found in the Corvette Grand Sport's cockpit.
The Grand Sport Convertible offers Chevy's Z07 handling package – the truth is though, that you don't need it. With the lesser engine from a Stingray, but the standard chassis of the Z06, not even the soft-top's loss of rigidity can taint it as a seriously impressive driver's tool. The standard suspension is more than good enough for most – it features a sportier tune than the Stingray as standard and adaptive magnetorheological damping and an e-LSD are equipped right from the lowest 1LT trim. Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber, 285 and 235 in width, front and rear, are as sticky as you'll ever need, and the standard Brembo steel brakes do a fine job of dropping the anchors. If you're going to be spending long days lapping race tracks – why you'd do that in the convertible rather than coupe I don't know – you can opt for carbon ceramics.
Packing the same small block LT1 V8 under its hood as the Stingray does, performance is nigh on par. But a performance exhaust ups the outputs of the 6.2-liter engine to 460 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque - improvements of 5 apiece over a Stingray without the optional exhaust. All 460 horses get routed to the rear wheels via a default 7-speed manual gearbox, or an optional 8-speed automatic. With the auto 'box and the Z07 package's stickier tires, the Grand Sport convertible completes the 0-60mph sprint in a claimed time that matches the coupe – 3.6 seconds.
Like all Corvettes, you get 3 trim levels to choose from, 1LT, 2LT, and 3LT. The baseline 1LT includes a 9-speaker Bose audio system, tilt and telescopic steering, dual-zone climate, and the aforementioned MyLink infotainment suite, as well as a rear-view camera. 2LT models get curb-view cameras, heads-up display, and heated and ventilated seats, while the 3LT model gets the performance data logger and video recorder as its key feature. The Z07 Performance Package can be had on all models, with sportier suspension, stickier rubber, carbon brakes, and extra aero bits. ABS is standard on all Corvettes, as is stability control and traction control.
It's slightly softer than the coupe, but the Grand Sport Convertible is still absolutely mighty! Avoid the track-focused Z07 package and carbon ceramic brakes though – unnecessary extra costs, those are – and enjoy the Grand Sport Convertible as an open-topped cruiser. Even the auto is worth a shot for an easy drive.