by Adam Lynton
The Grand Sport moniker, unlike so many modern-day performance labels, has its roots firmly planted in the history of motorsports, and more specifically, the world-renowned 24 Hours of the Le Mans endurance race. The first Grand Sport was born in 1963 after Chevrolet engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov took a 1963 Corvette and made it lighter, fitted an aluminum block 377 ci V8 engine, and worked on the aerodynamics. The MK1 Grand Sport was designed to compete with the GT cars of Europe, but unfortunately, it never got to see the track officially. Since then, the Corvette has gone on to enjoy a successful career in motorsports, especially in the GT class at Le Mans. Now the Grand Sport name lives on in the 2019 C7 Corvette, and thanks to a 6.2-liter V8, a honed chassis, and performance suspension, it's better than ever, comparing to the likes of the BMW M4 and Corvette's own Z06. The 2019 Grand Sport starts off at $65,900 and offers accessible supercar rivaling performance for the man on the street.
The Grand Sport, along with the rest of the Corvette lineup, received some notable updates in 2018 which means the 2019 Grand Sport has remained unchanged. Chevrolet has dropped the Carbon 65 Edition package from the options list, as it celebrated the 65th birthday of the Corvette in 2018; the manufacturer has added two new colors instead - Shadow Gray and Elkhart Lake Blue.
The Grand Sport sits between the base-model Stingray and the Supercharged Z06, which explains why the Grand Sport shares a lot of its exterior bits with both. One of the most notable features on the Grand Sport has to be the widened wheel arches that allow this Corvette to fit even broader wheels and tires - and boy, does it look good. The front of the Grand Sport gets the Z06 treatment, borrowing its grille, front splitter and branded front fender vents. At the back, the Grand Sport sports the Z06 spoiler, which adds to its on-track ability. The Grand Sport is available with a choice of five unique wheel designs, all sized at 19 inches, front and 20 inches, rear. New owners can choose between Pearl Nickel, Black, Machined-Face Aluminum, Chrome, and Satin Black with Red Striping. Exposed carbon fiber inserts are available as an optional extra.
The Grand Sport shares most of its dimensions with the rest of the Corvette lineup, which translates into a car that sits low and wide; the perfect stance for any serious sports car. The Grand Sport is an inch longer than the Stingray at 177.9 inches, most likely due to the added aerodynamic body pieces, but it shares the Stingray's 106.7-inch wheelbase. The wider wheel arches, fitted to accommodate those massive wheels, translates into a maximum width measurement of 73.9 inches, and beefed-up suspension makes the GS sit a tad lower at 48.6 inches tall. The Grand Sport has managed to keep its curb weight relatively low thanks to a generous helping of carbon fiber and aluminum bits, and for a GT car, a curb weight of just 3,428 is commendable.
For 2019 new owners will be able to select from ten colors, with Shadow Gray Metallic and Elkhart Lake Blue Metallic joining the palette for 2019. No-cost options include Torch Red, Admiral Blue, and Arctic White, while the most striking colors are reserved as optional extras. For an additional $995 you can cover your Grand Sport in Corvette Racing Yellow Tintcoat, Long Beach Red Metallic, and Sebring Orange Tintcoat.
The GS has stuck with a time-tested drivetrain configuration that has been used by most successful sports cars over the ages - a 6.2-liter V8 in the front, producing 460 hp, sending power to the rear wheels via a seven-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. The GS shares its powerplant and transmission options with the Stingray, missing out on the Z06's supercharged engine. The GS does a sterling job of making the most of that power, managing to sprint to sixty in 3.6 seconds, slightly quicker than the Stingray fitted with the Z51 performance package, and will continue on to a 12-second quarter-mile and a top speed of 181 mph. Unlike the Corvettes of old, the 2019 GS does not solely rely on straight-line speed, it actually prefers to be slung around corners and does an outstanding job of it.
The Grand Sport shares its engine and gearboxes with the base model Stingray, but this isn't a bad thing - the GS is still a blisteringly fast car. The 6.2-liter V8 that lies beneath the GS's bulging hood produces 460 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque thanks to direct injection variable valve timing technology, and a performance exhaust system that is reserved as an optional extra on the Stingray. The standard seven-speed manual transmission features rev-matching technology that makes fast driving a pleasure. The manual gearbox isn't the smoothest in its class, but it offers direct shifts that find home with ease. The eight-speed is a convincing effort by Chevrolet, but despite trying its best to emulate a dual-clutch gearbox, it still shows its true auto colors by shifting before redline and withholding gears on downshifts. The auto offers the fastest zero to sixty times but lacks true engagement, which simply cannot be measured in split-seconds.
The Grand Sport lives up to its name and racing heritage when it comes to handling and sporty driving. It all starts off with a superbly balanced chassis with carbon-nano-composite underbody panels, that offer a robust platform for the performance-tuned suspension and wider tires to do their thing. The GS shares its suspension and tire setup with the Z06, which means stabilizer bars grow from 26.7 mm to 30.7 mm, and shock piston diameter goes from 35 mm to 46 mm. Those wide fenders now house 285/30ZR19 front and 335/25ZR20 rear tires, a significant change in size over the Stingray.
All this culminates in a car that offers more handling capability than most drivers will ever be able to really appreciate. Grip levels are extraordinary, but even with the wider tires, the 6.2-liter V8 will happily kick out the rear-end on demand. The steering rack in the GS is quick to respond and gives a razor-sharp turn-in response. Steering weight gets progressively heavier as you go through the selectable drive modes. The GS can get slightly twitchy when encountering mid-corner undulations, but feels planted and flat most of the time; this issue is taken care of when the optional magnetic selective suspension package is added, which offers a superior balance between comfort and performance dampening. The larger Brembo rotors and pads on the GS are more than capable of bringing the party to a halt and should prove to be more than capable in every day driving situations and light track use.
Gas-mileage is a mere afterthought for most Corvette drivers, and since its introduction over half a century ago, the Corvette has never pretended to be a light drinker. Modern technology has gone a long way to improve the Corvette's image as a gas-guzzling slugger: variable valve timing, electronic direct injection, and a cylinder deactivation system helps the 2019 Grand Sport achieve an EPA-rated estimate of 16/25/19 mpg city/highway/combined when equipped with the manual seven-speed gearbox. The eight-speed automatic sees that number drop to 15/25/18 mpg. Chevrolet has fitted the GS with an 18.5-gallon fuel tank which enables it to travel up to 350 miles in mixed driving conditions.
The Corvette represents the ultimate in Chevrolet design and engineering, but the 2019 Grand Sport fails to impress with its interior. The interior is designed around the driver, which feels like a fighter-jet style cockpit, with the controls and infotainment display all angled towards the left of the car. The driving position is near perfect thanks to a wide range of seat and steering adjustability. The Grand Sport manages to feel spacious yet sporty at the same time. Interior features on the 2019 Grand Sport include dual-zone climate control, a head-up display with readouts for g-force, vehicle speed, and rpm. A leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel ties it all together. Compared to competitors, the 2019 GS feels cheap; the substandard materials and build quality let down what could, otherwise, be considered a well designed and comfortable space.
There's no getting around the fact that the Corvette Grand Sport is a low-slung two-seater sports car. That means that getting in and out of the 2019 Corvette Grand Sport will be a challenge for larger drivers. Once inside, there is a surprising abundance of space. Both the driver and passenger will find that the Corvette offers a generous legroom measurement of 43 inches, but with headroom limited to 37.9 inches, it fails to provide enough headroom for taller drivers. The front seat shoulder room is generous at 55.2 inches, as is the 53.7 inches of hip room. The seats in the GS aren't overly sporty, but provide good side bolstering and overall support, and should prove to be comfortable on long road trips. The driving position is near perfect for the average-sized adult driver, but for others, a wide range of adjustability will save the day, thanks to an eight-way power driver's seat and telescopic tilt steering wheel.
Thanks to its status as a special edition Corvette, the Grand Sport gets a selection of exclusive upholstery materials and optional material inserts, which include Gray, Jet Black, and Adrenaline Red Perforated Mulan leather, and a combination of leather and suede inserts. The available aluminum door sill plates with bold 'Grand Sport' branding will let everyone who steps inside this speedster know that there's something special about it. The steering wheel and shift knob are wrapped in leather but can be covered in suede microfiber at extra cost. The 2019 Grand Sport shares most of its interior materials with the rest of the Corvette range, which means you get a few cheap-looking and low-rent plastics that make the interior feel less premium than that of the competition.
It is a universally accepted fact amongst sports car owners that two-seater sports cars have to sacrifice practicality in order to provide maximum thrills. That means that trunk space and overall cargo capacity rank at the bottom of the priority list. Chevrolet, however, has bucked that trend with the C7. Unlike other two-seat sports cars, the 2019 GS offers 15 cubic feet of trunk space, which is considerable for a regular sedan, not to mention a junior supercar. The ample trunk space is easily accessible thanks to a hatchback-style liftgate that offers a large opening. The 2019 Grand Sport will easily carry two camping chairs, a disassembled picnic table and a portable gazebo for a pleasurable Daytona 24 Hour or Pikes Peak spectating session. Personal storage space, on the other hand, is limited. There are two cup holders, a glovebox and a secret storage area behind the infotainment display, just about enough to store the essentials.
Despite the perceived low asking price of the Grand Sport when compared to the competition, Chevrolet has filled up the features list with some decent tech. Notable exterior features include a body-colored carbon-fiber roof panel and a Z06 sourced grille, front splitter, rear fenders and a set of Michelin Pilot Super Sport summer tires. The interior plays host to an eight-way power driver's seat and telescopic steering wheel, two-zone climate control, an eight-inch color driver display, and cruise control. Stepping up to the 2LT and 3LT models, the feature list includes an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a universal home remote, and a color head-up display. The seats also get an upgrade in the form of improved side bolstering with power, heating, and ventilation. A performance data logging system rounds out the tech features. Driver assistance tech is lacking, to say the least, and Chevrolet has only provided the bare minimum in the form of a rearview camera, tire pressure monitoring, and a front-facing camera.
The 2019 Grand Sport hasn't received the latest Infotainment 3 system from Chevrolet; instead, it has to make do with the somewhat dated MyLink system. The eight-inch infotainment screen displays colors crisply but feels delayed, often lagging when tasked with performing any action. Despite the dated feel, contemporary features abound: there's HD radio, Bluetooth streaming, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto connectivity, and voice command technology. Voice command on the GS works well, and the system provides clear prompts. Sound is channeled through a standard Bose sound system that features nine speakers on the 1LT, growing to 10 speakers and a subwoofer enclosure in the cargo area on higher trims. Both these setups offer crystal clear sound quality and is a definite highlight of the Grand Sport's interior.
The seventh generation of the Chevrolet Corvette has proven to be a reliable platform and has not been affected by any major recalls in the past three years. Since 2017, Chevrolet has issued three recalls that have affected the Corvette range. The first two were released in 2017, with the first relating to an issue with the airbag system that wouldn't deploy during an accident as well as a failure in the seat belt pretensioner system. The second recall for 2017 was due to a potential power steering failure resulting in steering becoming uncontrollable. The next recall was issued in 2019 due to a possible failure of the airbag system under hard acceleration or deceleration. The 2018 C7 Corvette achieved a score of 85 out of 100 from J.D. Power which backs up the opinion that the current 'Vette is a good one. Chevrolet makes sure that new owners are taken care of with a three-year/36,000 mile warranty with corrosion cover, drivetrain cover and roadside assistance for five-years /60,000 miles, a one-year/ two visit maintenance warranty, and a six-year rust-through warranty.
The 2019 Grand Sport hasn't been tested by either the IIHS or NHTSA, which comes as a surprise as the Corvette is basically an American icon, enjoyed by thousands across the country. Despite the lack of safety information, Chevrolet has spent millions in safety research, and with a bolstered aluminum frame and acceptable levels of standard safety equipment, the 2019 GS should prove to be safe in case of a severe accident.
Although the 2019 Grand Sport has not been tested by any of the principal agencies, Chevrolet has made sure that the Corvette range will keep occupants safe by including some modern-day safety essentials such as large diameter Brembo performance brakes with ABS, and electronic brake-force distribution, advanced traction control, stability control, as well as front and side-impact airbags. Where the Corvette GS fails to impress is in the active safety feature department. There's no forward collision alert, lane-keep assist, or blind-spot monitoring.
The 2019 Grand Sport might be the most balanced car in the Corvette range. It borrows the naturally aspirated 6.2-liter engine from the Stingray and uses suspension parts and exterior bits from the supercar-slaying Z06, which allows it to feel laid back and practical as a daily driver, but more than capable of entertaining even the most experienced drivers when the occasion arises. The interior, just like the rest of the range, leaves something to be desired in terms of quality, but the driving experience makes up for any qualms with the workmanship of the cabin. The amount of trunk space is one characteristic of the Grand Sport that separates it from the rest of the pack and turns this Corvette into a properly practical sports car. With an asking price of $65,900, the Grand Sport offers supercar-rivaling performance at a fraction of the cost. You'll be hard-pressed to find something as good at the same price.
The 2019 Grand Sport starts off with an MSRP of $65,900 for the 1LT in manual guise. Opting for the automatic transmission will see that number grow to $67,895. The manual 2LT will cost you $70,355 while the auto will set you back $72,350. At the top of the pile sits the 3LT, which goes for $75,645 in manual guise, and $77,640 for the auto. These prices exclude a destination freight charge of $1,095.
There are three trim levels to choose from when purchasing a new Grand Sport: 1LT, 2LT, and 3LT.
The 1LT represents the base model, and apart from a few luxury features, it will go around a track just as quick as the rest of the range. The 1LT features the Stingray's 6.2-liter V8 with the added performance exhaust system mated to a seven-speed manual transmission as standard. It also borrows aerodynamic and suspension parts from the Z06.
The 2LT steps up the comfort and practicality levels with heated window mirrors, exclusive interior upholstery options, a curb view camera, and an upgraded Bose sound system.
The 3LT includes unique features such as a performance data and video recorder for those track day junkies, a leather-wrapped instrument panel and perforated Nappa leather seating surfaces, as well as an upgraded infotainment system with navigation.
All models are available with optional eight-speed shiftable auto transmission, but the Grand Sport is exclusively configured as a rear-wheel-drive.
The majority of the optional packages on the 2019 GS are focused on altering the appearance of the car rather than increasing its performance. There are four packages, all dedicated to race car drivers that add features such as fender hash marks, custom center caps, and red seat belts. The Antonia Garcia, Jan Magnussen, Oliver Gavin, and Tommy Milner packages will set you back $5,995 each. The highlight of the optional packages has to be the $7,995 Z07 performance package, which actually improves the performance of the 2019 Grand Sport even more by adding selective magnetic ride control, carbon-ceramic brakes, and sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport Cup 2 summer tires.
Accent stripes and decals can also be equipped, ranging in price from $500 to $995, as well as a $595 Grand Sport Logo Package comprised of cargo mats, premium carpeted floor mats, and a custom floor console lid, all with the Grand Sport logo emblazoned on it.
With more than $10,000 separating the base model from the range-topper, there is a broad spectrum for new owners to choose from. Seeing as all three cars offer the same level of performance, with only a few minor interior upgrades being added to the 2LT and 3LT, the 1LT should be a good choice. Add in the Z07 package, and you have yourself a Grand Sport Corvette that will go around a track faster than the top of the range 3LT and still in excess of $1,000 less. If outright performance isn't the main focus, then the 3LT should be the one to go for. There is a price gap of more than $5,000 between the manual 2LT and 3LT, but the added extras and exclusivity should make up for it.
The Grand Sport is basically a combination of the Stingray and Z06. The Z06 is a full-blown performance car and, compared to the GS, it feels like a more focused one at that. The most glaring difference between these two cars has to be the addition of a supercharger on the Z06's 6.2-liter V8, which now pushes out 650 hp and a monstrous 650 lb-ft of torque. This makes the Z06 capable of hitting 60 mph in only 2.85 seconds, 100 mph in 6.0 seconds and it will go on to complete the quarter-mile within the 10-second range. The Z06 is a heavier drinker and will get an estimated 15/22/17 mpg city/highway/combined. In terms of interior and safety features, there are only minor differences. The GS is the more practical daily driver, and offers a more approachable entry into the world of Corvette ownership, whereas the Z06 thrusts you into the supercar arena with full force.
The BMW M4 is the European answer to the Corvette, and it doesn't have anything to be shy about. As is the trend with European performance cars, BMW has opted for a smaller turbocharged power plant instead of a large capacity naturally aspirated engine. The 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six engine in the M4 produces 425 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque, considerably less than the Corvette, but its party trick is in providing all that torque. Where the Corvette needs to get up to 4,600 rpm to reach its maximum torque curve, the BMW pulls from as little as 1,850 rpm. The BMW will hit 60 mph in a similar 3.8 seconds and will stick with the GS through the corners. What sets the M4 apart from the Corvette GS is in the quality of its interior and standard features list. The BMW feels like a proper premium car and boasts standard active safety tech that's sorely missed in the Grand Sport. The addition of rear seats doesn't hurt the M4's chances either. The BMW M4 should be the choice for those who want sports coupe performance and premium luxury in the same package, whereas the Corvette presents its capabilities in an in-your-face way that stays true to its American roots.