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2010 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport – Click above for high-res image gallery

Going into the 2010 model year, the Corvette lineup is growing to four models with the revival of the Grand Sport nameplate that slots in between the base and Z06 models. This is the third iteration of the Grand Sport, the first being a run of just five race-ready cars built by original Vette chief engineer Zora Arkus Duntov. The second batch was a run of 1,000 cars built in 1996 to close out the C4 generation. This time around, the Grand Sport is a regular production model and General Motors promises to make as many examples as customers demand.

The first customer bound production examples should be arriving at dealers this week, and the Corvette crew invited Autoblog out to the Milford Proving Ground for a tasting session. Thankfully, when Corvettes and Milford mix, that usually means a visit to the Milford Road Course (MRC), better known as the "Lutz 'Ring." MRC was completed five years ago at the south end of the company's proving grounds and as you might imagine, it's a suitably wonderful place to evaluate Corvettes. We spent the better part of an hour thrashing the Grand Sport around the MRC and came away impressed with this middle child. Read all about it after the jump.


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Photos copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.

The Grand Sport borrows from its big brother, the Z06, to offer Vette drivers something a bit less hardcore but with similar visual appeal. The front fascia with the center mounted scoop and wider rear fenders are common to the Z06. The front fenders, however, get a new side scoop design unique to the GS with a chrome badge along the top edge. Unlike the Z06, the GS retains the standard steel frame of the base model, meaning it is available in both removable roof coupe and retractable roof convertible bodystyles.



Filling up those wider wheel wells are the same size Goodyear Eagle F1s fitted to the Z06 – 275/35ZR18 in front and 325/30ZR19 at the back. However, the GS gets a unique five spoke wheel design to show off bigger brakes also borrowed from the Z06. The alloys are available in the usual silver and chrome finishes, but the real winner is probably the Competition Gray, especially when contrasted against the white or silver body colors.

GS buyers who fondly remember the 1996 edition will also be able to get the Heritage package that includes a pair of contrasting fender top hash marks in either white, red, gray or silver. Unlike the last version that only got the stripes on the drivers side, the new model sports the markings on both flanks. Heritage pack buyers also get two-tone leather seats with the Grand Sport logo embroidered on the head rest, which is a deal at just $1,195.



For those more interested in functional upgrades, the big news comes with the manual transmission coupe. The GS retains the LS3 engine designation for its 430-horsepower 6.2-liter V8, but three-pedal coupes get the dry sump used on the LS7 (Z06) and LS9 (ZR1). When the lateral Gs start to really build as they do on the MRC, this system really helps to ensure that all of the engine's moving bits in the engine stay well lubricated. Aside from the cast aluminum pan and the reservoir, the only other internal changes are to the front of the crankshaft and the inclusion of a wider two-stage gerotor oil pump, which is needed to scavenge the pan and then pump oil back from the reservoir. The dry-sump LS3 for the GS will henceforth be hand-built on the same line at the GM Performance Center in Wixom, MI that builds the LS7, LS9 and LSA for the Cadillac CTS-V.

Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter emphasized the fact that using the new launch control system "WILL NOT VOID YOUR WARRANTY".
The GS also gets the bigger brake package from the Z06 consisting of cross-drilled rotors all around spanning 14 inches in front and 13.4 inches in the rear. The front discs are squeezed by massive six-pot calipers while the rears get four-piston units. Shift-it-yourself GS manuals also get shorter gearing that helps cut about two-tenths off their 0-60 mph times, bringing the stopwatch to a halt in about 3.95 ticks. Given that some 70% of all Corvettes are sold with automatic transmission, it warms our hearts to see the three-pedal Vettes get upgrades that those other folks miss out on.

The last of those improvements and one that actually applies to all Corvette models with a clutch pedal is launch control. We'll describe our experience with launch control separately, but suffice it say that Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter emphasized the fact that using the new launch control system "WILL NOT VOID YOUR WARRANTY" – unlike a certain Japanese sports car.



After getting the lowdown on the Grand Sport, it was time to drive. The MRC is a three-mile long, 17-turn road course where, according to test driver and track designer Jim Mero, 97% of every lap is spent under lateral acceleration. To keep things under control, GM had us come into the pits every lap so they could set up a cone chicane on the back straight. The course is designed as an engineering test facility rather than a racetrack and includes two off-camber turns, increasing and decreasing radius turns and even two "jumps" to unload the suspension.

The complaints about the Corvette's interior are well known and don't really need to be re-hashed – but hash away we will. In general, the layout of the controls is fine and the relative position of everything works well. The problem is the materials that, especially in base form, come off as decidedly cheap looking and feeling for a $50,000 car. Compared to a Lexus or Audi of the same price point, the Corvette doesn't stand up. However, it must be remembered that this is not a mid-level luxury sedan, but rather a giant among sports cars. When compared to cars of like performance, the Vette remains an outright bargain. Clearly GM had a budget and a price point to work with and the engineers and designers decided to put the money where it counts first for a sports car. Despite our complaints, it's no Aveo inside, so for the most part we'll give the interior a pass.



The reason we say "for the most part" is the seats. Simply put, they are the one functional aspect of this car that is unacceptable. For a vehicle with the ability to sustain 1 g cornering loads, the bolsters are just not up to the job. We asked Tadge Jeuchter why they don't offer the wonderful Recaros from the CTS-V as an option and it turns out that they simply don't fit. The structural center tunnel doesn't leave enough room for any current off-the-shelf performance seat to fit in the C6 and fixed race seats are out of the question for a production car. Presumably, now that we know a C7 will be coming in just three years, this "little" problem will be addressed.

Once we got all settled in and adjusted so that our helmets cleared the roof, it was time to fire up the LS3. Certainly, compared to a ZR1, the LS3's mere 430 hp and 424 lb-ft of torque might not seem all that impressive. But looking at what else is out there, the GS pretty much matches the twice as expensive Porsche 911 GT3 in performance and most specs, ensuring that it has nothing to be ashamed of. The more modest torque curve means the GS doesn't need a dual plate clutch, but the effort to release the left-most pedal is still relatively light. Take-up is fairly progressive and smooth launches are easy even without engaging the launch control. Operating a Corvette in stop-and-go traffic is generally not a problem, as this is not a car that requires excess slippage of the clutch or a lot of revs to get moving.



The only other car we have driven on the MRC is the ZR1, and that was a year ago. Right off the line coming out the pits and aiming for turn one, the maximum speed we were able to hit before braking is several miles per hour slower than the supercharged supercar. That said, this is still one seriously fast automobile and there's just nothing like the sound of a big American V8 at wide-open throttle. Slowing into turn one, the brakes offered plenty of assurance they were up to the task of dissipating this much kinetic energy, with a firm pedal and precise modulation ability.

The challenges start right from the first turn at MRC as the radius gradually tightens before heading into a drop away left-right combination. The GS makes its massive grip easy to use, even for a someone with limited track experience. Unlike the Z06, which has often been accused of having very abrupt and twitchy breakaway behavior, the Grand Sport does more of a tiptoe over the edge of adhesion. It's easy to feel the back end slide if you give it gas a bit too early coming out of a turn, and backing off brings the tail right in line. If you stay in it, the stability control will eventually nudge the car back into position. Fortunately, the Corvette engineers have worked with Bosch engineers to make sure the stability control allows enough slip even in normal mode to have plenty of fun before it intruding, and even then it doesn't beat you over the head with its heavy-handedness.



The six-speed gearbox in the Vette isn't the slickest unit on the planet, but it gets the job done as long as you don't try to force it. Third gear in particular on the car we drove seemed hesitant to engage if pushed too fast. The steering feel, on the other hand, was superb and gave a precise accounting of the forces building and diminishing at the front wheels as the car changed direction. The Corvette is generally a very well balanced sports car that allows amateur drivers to approach its outrageously high limits without biting them if they make a mistake. But even more experienced drivers can switch the stability control to Competitive mode or even turn it off entirely to truly test their car handling skills.

Corvette buyers who want that extra bit of juice that the Grand Sport offers can get the coupe starting at $55,720 with the convertible going for $59,530. That's only about $6,000 more than the base car and nearly $20,000 less than the Z06. This may be one of the best performance bargains on the road even if its seats do suck. Zora would be proud.


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Photos copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 52 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Autoblog, I have to ask about the info about the internals, as Jalopnik posts:

      "That's all well and good, but we suspect the part that'll get Corvette owners talking is the engine. It's an LS3, yes, but with some very tasty upgrades. All Grand Sports get a forged steel crankshaft instead of the standard cast iron piece which can withstand higher loads for longer times as wells as tri-metal main bearings that'll take a whole lot more abuse than standard ones. On the manual transmission cars, you get a dry-sump oil system standard, with a higher flow and higher pressure oil pump and a 10.5-quart capacity, that dry sump occupies the same space as the battery normally gets, so it's moved to the rear as a result. Because of the dry sump complexity, the engine is being built by hand right alongside the LS7 and LS9. That means you get a properly balanced engine and a reinforced bottom end for the price of admission on the "cheap" Grand Sport model. Add to that the differential cooler at the rear and you have exactly what you need for a solid track day. Sounds pretty good to us."
      • 5 Years Ago
      I almost hate to say it but I love the idea of the Grand Sport - although the Z06 is a much better car as far as any purist would be concerned, in the Grand Sport you get a similarly track worthy chassis with more tuning potential since the LS3 takes to forced induction better than the LS7 in the Z06 does for $20k less than a Z06 costs.

      For another 10k over the price of a Grand Sport you could stick in some proper race buckets, get some coilovers and swaybars on there and supercharge the engine to well over 500 horsepower quite easily and go hunting down poor Z06 owners (not to mention Porsche owners) all day long.

      I do think they should have been more subtle about stealing the looks of the Z06 though - most specifically the hood scoop.

      Of course, I'd take a used Z06 over a brand new Grand Sport any day of the week though, even for a slightly higher price. What a bargain!
        Brady Kohuth
        • 3 Years Ago
        My brother and I drove his GS from Salt Lake to Mazda LaGuna Seca and back,with numerous 100mph blasts and city driving thru Salinas etc,and after 1800 miles still averaged 26mpg. I was impressed !! We also drove 2 laps around the course and pulled .8g,not bad for a novice(my brother) and me with a white knuckle ride.
        • 5 Years Ago
        you would be amazed at the priced new and used Z06's are going for these days. I bought mine NEW 11K off sticker with no bargaining and this was 1.5 years ago.

        Even now there are 07s, and 08s still on dealers lots going for deep discounts. If you are patient and look hard enough you can find 07s and 08's well taken care of for the same or less than a new GS.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "...some 70% of all Corvettes are sold with automatic transmission"

      Now that's depressing
      • 5 Years Ago
      Having owned a 2007 Vette for over 3 years, I find the interior comments ridiculous. Sure you can find a nicer interior in an audi that costs 50K, but it will have its butt handed to it in every performance test known to man. The interior is actually pretty nice to live with on a daily basis. I added a padded armrest and that dresses it up nicely and is much more comfortable.

      I find it funny how they trash vette interiors, but say nothing about Porsche. Unless you order a uber expensive leather interior you end up with a lot of plastic and blank buttons.
      • 5 Years Ago
      naturalyshocked
      my personal opinion: this is world best 'affordable' car for a normal human being.
      a porsche developed gearbox, 4x4, 100% aluminium body and a real nice built quality.

      i wouldn't switch for a corvette, not even if it came free with a piece of butter in the supermarket.

      my very first car was a 90'ties toyota corolla, my mom gave me.
      wel the corvette's dash looks like it.
      cheap plastic.

      ---------------------------

      Kinda says in a nutshell what the common user of this blog is.

      An American hater who only began driving 10 years ago with a ricer POS his mommie gave him ( and making him wear pink panties) who has never even smelled the ass end of a vette much less sat in one as there is very little plastic on the dash which is covered in soft material

      Anyone who thinks a air cooled engine design of 60 years ago and is a 4x4 is a sports car I'd suggest they spend their time playing with their doll and STFU when it comes to American sports car as none of the junk you'd want can ever come close to the winning history the Corvette has.

      Anyone more interested in what a dash looks like or size of a cup holder is you can bet would go pee pee in their panties being in the right seat of my Corvette.

      This tread was about the Corvette so you ricers and eurosnobs go play with your joystick :-)
        Brady Kohuth
        • 3 Years Ago
        I totally agree,if someone is buying a car for the appearance of the dash,they probably wear pink panties. For godsake,you rice burner lovers and "eurosnobs" you've been drinking too much kool-aid.I am sure the drivers Fellows and Magnusson are crying about their C6R dash when they are winning the 24 hour Le Mans and beating the puny Volkswagon race cars(Porsche).
      • 5 Years Ago
      I love the Grand Sport name. I learned how to drive a manual transmission on a '96 Grand Sport. I wish you could get the white racing stripe in the middle. And get those fenders on a ZR1 (in carbon fiber of course). This seems like a nice alternative to the Z06, especially for those that want a convertible.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You are one lucky person. Not that Honda manuals are bad by any stretch of the imagination, but most people who learn to drive manuals do so in their teens in their parents' 1990s-era cheap Honda Civics. To learn how to drive a manual for the first time in a Corvette is truly a blessing.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I ended up teaching myself how to drive a manual transmission vehicle in a 1988 RX-7. Now, I'll only drive a stick.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Learned how to drive a manual in a 1985 Jeep Cherokee that had been beat to Hell and back with a 2.8L V6 with a small crack in the black and almost no brakes... Most fun I've ever had... :)
        • 5 Years Ago
        I learned on a 2005 Porsche Boxster S.
        I guess I'm lucky?
        It was at a dealership last year after I got my license, I got bold and scheduled a test drive there.
        Awesome customer service. He knew he wasn't going to be selling a car to me that day, but he taught me anyways.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Chrysler Conquest TSI.
        I would have loved to have learned on a Grand Sport though.

        Matt, you are lucky it was a Boxster S and not a regular Boxster.
        I test drove a regular Boxster when it first came out and it was so underpowered and I had to shift so many times that when I got to my house I was so frustrated with it that I almost called the dealer to pick it up because I did not even want to drive it back.
        • 5 Years Ago
        By "black", I mean "block".
      Christopher
      • 5 Years Ago
      don't some of you know that when most people slide behind the wheel of a Corvette that they demand and expect Rolls-Royce and Bently levels of creamy butt-coddling luxury?
      (okay it could be nicer sure, but it's really not THAT bad. you have to understand that ripping on the interiors of any domestic car is what all the cool kids on the playground are doing these days)

      i saw in naturalyshocked post "A8" and "worlds best AFFORDABLE car for normal human being"..... really... since when is a top of the line luxury car considered affordable? honestly, i would love to have the kind of income that would make an A8 an affordable car
      • 5 Years Ago
      That two-tone interior looks so much better than the standard black:

      http://www.autoblog.com/gallery/first-drive-2010-chevrolet-corvette-grand-sport/#20

      I just wished they did something about the center IP's items, Navigation/Radio, HVAC, and ash-tray, which really look out of place in an otherwise good looking interior.

      Is the the grain? Almost every Corvette looks the same... as if there wasn't much coordination with the IP engineering.
        • 5 Years Ago
        i rather have a equal priced les powerfull mercedes, bmw, audi.
        as long as it has AWD and a nice dashboard.

        i'm a driver, i like to trow my car around corners or take them as fast as possible, searching the limits of grip, while viewing a real pretty dashboard.

        i have a old D2 A8 tdi, second hand, with a atomic synced clock.
        the fun starts when you open the door and see the ASF badge on the B pilar.
        the car even tells you to take a brake after driving for hours.
        this display changes color when you run low on combustible.
        i can do 100km/h+ with the 2 left wheels in the wet mud while safely overtaking someone on a land road.
        even as passenger it's impresive how to the dashboard goes around you and migrates into the door.
        how the glove box opens.

        my personal opinion: this is world best 'affordable' car for a normal human being.
        a porsche developed gearbox, 4x4, 100% aluminium body and a real nice built quality.

        i wouldn't switch for a corvette, not even if it came free with a piece of butter in the supermarket.

        my very first car was a 90'ties toyota corolla, my mom gave me.
        wel the corvette's dash looks like it.
        cheap plastic.
      • 5 Years Ago
      So no one makes a decent aftermarket seat? Really?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Doesn't the Grand Sport (GS) belong to Buick performance packages?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think Buick has "Super".
        • 5 Years Ago
        The Buick models were "Gran Sport" - no "d" on the end.

        In other news, the AB posting engine still sucks.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Looking sharp.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes... but when will Chevy offer the black/ carbon headlights (like on the C6R race car) instead of these hideous color coded ones???
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hey, I have that steering wheel in my Cobalt! :)
        Brady Kohuth
        • 3 Years Ago
        Please go back to that site and let real men post their comments here.
          Todd
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Brady Kohuth
          FYI, just because someone drives a cobalt doesn't mean that they are not a real man. I happen to own a 465hp cobalt ss. As well as a 500+ hp Zo6. Cobalt happens to be underestimated all of the time.
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