• Sep 30, 2009

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

While Ford has been introducing a countless string of Mustangs that appeal to nearly every enthusiast on the planet, Chevrolet has had to make due with only three versions of the Corvette (five if you count both coupes and convertibles). Well, for 2010, Chevrolet is adding a new model to the mix, the Corvette Grand Sport. Bridging the gap between the base Corvette and the track-focused Z06, the Grand Sport – unlike the aluminum chassis Z06 and ZR1 – is available in both coupe and convertible form, giving 'Vette lovers another way to enjoy motoring al fresco.

After spending a few hours at General Motors' Milford Proving Grounds wringing out the GS on track back in August, we finally managed to snag some significant street time in a Crystal Red Grand Sport convertible. Lo and behold, when we looked inside we found a manual transmission, meaning this particular Grand Sport is packing the new-for-2010 launch control system. So now it's time to find out if this newest 'Vette variant is as livable on the road as it is fun on the track.



Photos Copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid, Max Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.

There's no mistaking the Grand Sport for anything but a Corvette. The long hood, arching fenders and bulging wheel wells show a lineage that goes back to the late C1 models of the early Sixties. Adding to the classic lines of the stock C6, the Grand Sport receives the front fascia, hood and fenders from the Z06. Everything is supported by the surprisingly strong hydro-formed steel structure, including the rear fenders, which are unique to the Grand Sport as the Z06 isn't available in a convertible and the track rat's rear arches won't fit.



Like all recent Corvettes, the 19-inch rear wheels are an inch larger than the fronts, while the slim, five-spoke design is unique to the GS. Rather than rolling on the standard painted wheels, our tester came equipped with the chromed versions, which are a bit too bling for our tastes. Thankfully, there's a third option: a sinister set of dark gray competitions wheels inspired by the C6.R. Yes, please.

On the topic of tires and wheels, while we expect most Corvette owners to hand-wash their rides, sometimes you just don't have the time or inclination. Unfortunately, the 12-inch wide, P325/30ZR19 Eagle F1 Supercar run-flats mounted on the rear simply don't fit through the guide tracks of most automatic car washes. In a vain attempt to run the GS through our local auto-wash to prep it for a photo shoot and check for leaks, the 275 mm front rubber barely fit, so we backed out and gave it a proper bath at home.



Fortunately, there wasn't much grime to hose off as the weather cooperated during most of our time with the Grand Sport. That also meant the top was dropped whenever we were behind the wheel. Lowering the roof is as easy as twisting the large single latch at the center of the windshield and then holding the switch to the left of the steering column. The power mechanism handles the rest, lifting the hard tonneau and stowing the lid underneath. Unlike a handful of modern convertibles, the Vette's top can't be raised or lowered while in motion, so when the sky finally opened, we made a mad dash to the side of the road to close up the fun.

While the Corvette isn't a particularly quiet car under the best of circumstances, the convertible doesn't seem to be appreciably louder than the coupe. Noise levels seem to be in check whether puttering around town or hitting the highway at speed, but when it comes to noise, one suggestion: check off the dual-mode exhaust on the option list. If you're going to drop the coin on something with a large displacement V8, you need to be able to enjoy it, and when the Grand Sport's rev counter sweeps past 4,000 RPM, a bypass valve opens up and... BAM! You're back in 1967.



The Grand Sport's interior is pretty much standard issue Corvette, from the base model to ZR1, it's essentially the same. Our convertible tester had the optional premium equipment group which tacks nearly $10,000 onto the price tag and brings with it a two-tone leather covering for the dash and door panels, memory seats, power telescoping steering column and the heads-up display, among a raft of other options. For a vehicle that can gobble up pavement at such a prodigious rate, the HUD is a major plus, allowing the driver to keep his eyes on the road while diving deep into corners. It's also customizable, offering a number of different information pages, including our favorite: a simulated analog tachometer with a digital speedo and lateral acceleration bar graph.

In the past, we've complained about the weak lateral and thigh support offered by the C6 seats, but the position is good, and the overall ergonomics inside are sound. With the top down, visibility to the rear is outstanding, and unlike recent high-beltline designs, you don't feel like you're sitting in a coffin peering out of a tank slit. With the top up, rear visibility remains decent, but it's best to double- then triple-check blind-spots before making lane changes. And while some drop-tops suck up all the trunk space when they're down, the Grand Sport is packing 11 cubic feet – just one cubic foot less than the much larger, more stately Lexus LS600h.



While the manual transmission GS coupe gets a dry sump version of the 6.2-liter LS3 V8, the convertible has to make do with the wet sump setup regardless of transmission choice -- not really an issue, as anyone who's talking sumps plans to play at the track and will take the coupe in the first place. Regardless of lubrication details, the LS3 is a marvelous piece of work. Granted, it's an architecture with a storied history, but that doesn't mean GM's powertrain boffins have let it languish. Given its small size and comparatively light weight, this latest generation makes tremendous power, and the one thing that matters in a Corvette: torque. While the GS is certainly no ZR1, 424 pound-feet of twist is nothing to sneeze at, and when the 2011 model rolls out, don't be surprised to find the LS3 replaced by a new small block equipped with direct injection to improve both power and fuel efficiency.

The convertible may not get the trick dry sump, but like all 2010 Corvettes with a manual gearbox, launch control is also part of the package. When we first tried the LC in the ZR1, the LS9 held the revs at about 4,000 RPM before letting its supercharged wrath out onto the tarmac. In the Grand Sport, enabling the stability control Competition Mode and then flooring the throttle takes the engine to a steady 4,500 RPM. Side-stepping the clutch allowed us to rip off consistently perfect launches with just enough wheel spin to hit 60 MPH in a few ticks over four seconds on a less than perfect surface. Admittedly, you won't create a billowing cloud of smoke in the process, but burn-outs don't get you moving fast – although they are fun and the GS is easily up to the task.



Back in the mid-Eighties when the C4 first arrived on the scene, the Z51 version was roundly criticized for being tuned to generate huge numbers on the test track at the expense of your spine when you ventured outside the fence. In the intervening 25 years, GM's chassis engineers have learned a lot about mechanical grip. The GS convertible does an excellent job of maintaining its composure on the worst roads Michigan has to offer without causing vertebrae misalignment. Sure, the magnetic ride in the ZR1 does a better job, but the GS has come a long way, filling in the handling and ride gap between the base Corvette and the Z06, while coming across as more useful on the road than its 7.0-liter sibling.

Chevrolet now offers a quartet of Corvette variants spanning the price range from under $49,000 to over $100-grand, giving buyers a multitude of ways to answer the age-old question: "Speed equals money. How fast do you want to go?" As the price increases, so does performance. So if a base 'Vette isn't enough to keep your better demons at bay, and you want the looks of the Z06 without the track-tuned dynamics, the Grand Sport is for you. And if you can't deny the allure of open-air motoring, for $74,170, the GS Convertible is just the ticket. Just avoid the auto wash and invest in a good sponge.



Photos Copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid, Max Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 44 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      To bad it doesn't come in C4 GS colors.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't understand GM"s thinking by not offering the Z06 and ZR1 in convertible form when everyone else from Shelby to Ferrari does . And while we're on the subject , how about some true hardtop's with NO large fender gaps !
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Corvette is a retirement car. You only ever see old people driving them.
        • 5 Years Ago
        so amusing because you are so wrong... I'm 27 and have my butt in an 08 Z06. How did I do it? college, good job, no wife, no kids, and saving my money.


        It's true - you will generally see more older people driving a vette but only because they had different priorities in life. Fact of the matter is its an american icon that offers insane performance. Who cares if the driver is 20 or 60 years old?

        Just because you drive a Kia is no reason to hate on others choices/priorities.
        • 5 Years Ago
        id have to generally agree, most corvettes I see have older drivers... but my pet peeve is that super fast vette that wont move! seems like more often than not, the fast car on the road wont really go... either the driver is on their cellphone, or has no desire to use the car for what it was built for. why buy a vette if you dont drive it like a vette? all i wanted to afford was a g6 GXP and I regularly use its power...
        • 5 Years Ago
        I had a Vette in my 20's and I am still young and might get another one. Lots of my friends have had Vettes so I don't know what you are talking about.
        My one buddy is a 33 year old surgeon and he has a Z06 and I am quite sure even though he makes good money he is not quite ready to retire yet.
        • 5 Years Ago
        That's because they couldn't afford one until they were older. They always wanted one, just couldn't ever afford it - you know, things like the mortgage, putting the kids through college, too much alimony to too many ex's....whatever. Those that want a 'vette usually find a way to get one, at some point in their lives. It's too bad for some that has to be so late in life. I feel sorry for them.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You've obviously never been to a racing event of any kind...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Just threw up a little.
      Chip Haselton
      • 3 Years Ago
      That is the perfect Corvette http://www.customcorvetteaccessories.com/ Peace Chip
      • 5 Years Ago
      The closest thing to an American supercar.
      • 5 Years Ago
      That isn't Crystal Red, it looks like Torch Red.
        • 5 Years Ago
        They call it Victory Red now.
      • 5 Years Ago
      still sexy after all these years.
        • 5 Years Ago
        hey DC.....love the avatar!!!! I need to figure out how to add mine.
      bluesminstrel
      • 5 Years Ago
      Fifty photos and not one with the top up?
      • 5 Years Ago
      C6 corvette is the best american car I've ever drive. In fact it's the only american car that I've seriously considered buying.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Re: TTAC article. The Corvette is a car that actually makes GM money, why would they stop making it? Considering the guy who wrote it (R. Farago), it was probably just to get people ticked off at his d-bag self.
      HotRodzNKustoms
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is the Corvette I have been waiting for. Yes the only change I would want is having the LS7 but at 430hp would anyone realistically be disappointed? They really did this car right and i am glad they did it makes me believe GM can still make an excellent car.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @HotRodzNKustoms
        Yep, GM went bankrupt making dozens of excellent cars.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @HotRodzNKustoms
        "They really did this car right and i am glad they did it makes me believe GM can still make an excellent car."

        Well...don't forget about the Malibu, Traverse, Acadia, Enclave, Outlook, Tahoe, CTS, Cobalt SS, Lacrosse, SRX, Equinox, Terrain, etc.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @HotRodzNKustoms
        Your opinion is wrong. At the very least the g8 and camaro are definitely better than adequate
        HotRodzNKustoms
        • 5 Years Ago
        @HotRodzNKustoms
        Ok just to clarify what I said "They really did this car right and i am glad they did it makes me believe GM can still [and continues to] make a(n) excellent car(s)."
        • 5 Years Ago
        @HotRodzNKustoms
        in addition to what Matt said: ...G8, Camaro, SRX, XLR, Sierra, Silvy, Escalade, Aura, Sky, Solstice....

        In fact I can't think of one bad car GM has introduced in the past 5 years. Every new car they have released has seriously been on my list of cars to buy.
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