We sat down with Chief Engineer Tadge Juecter in Switzerland to explain the differences between the Grand Sport and the rest of the Corvette lineup.
The Grand Sport comes with the LT1 V8 (and 460 horsepower) instead of the supercharged LT4 in the Z06. That means the Grand Sport gets the lower Stingray hood, absent the power bulge. The Grand Sport also weighs less than the Z06. As such, the Grand Sport's springs and anti-roll bars are different to accommodate the lighter nose. "Mainly it's the weight distribution that changes," explains Juecter, "It's a custom tune around the obvious standard components."
Grand Sport Wheels, Z06 Brakes
In the sixth-generation Corvette, the Grand Sport came with a Z06-style body but kept the standard Vette's steel structure. With every version of the C7 built on an aluminum backbone, the Grand Sport has almost the same structure as the Z06. That means the Grand Sport can handle all the track-ready goodness like Z06 brakes and the optional Z07 package that adds carbon-ceramic disks and Michelin Pilot Sport 2 Cup tires. Except the Grand Sport comes without the max-downforce add-ons of the Z07-packaged Z06, because it doesn't need them. What you can't get on the Z06, though, is the unique Grand Sport wheel design, which comes in five different finishes.
Stingray Brake Lights, Interior
The dead giveaway for the Grand Sport is the hash marks on the front fenders which come in six different colors. Another way to spot the Grand Sport is the taillights, which use the Stingray's red lenses instead of the blacked-out Z06's lights. Z06 body plus taillights equals Grand Sport. Got that? The Grand Sport also comes with body-color rear fender vents, which are black on the Z06. And the Grand Sport's interior is based on the Stingray except the Collector Edition, which has unique blue accents.
For many customers the last Grand Sport hit the sweet spot in price and performance and became the best-selling Corvette, out-selling even the base model. We expect the same here, and so does Juecter. "This is probably the most accessible performance in the Corvette lineup." But the new Grand Sport will be closer to the Z06 in performance than ever before. Juecter tells us the Grand Sport is only 0.6 second slower than the previous ZR1's time around the Milford Road Course on GM's proving grounds. That's despite a 190-horsepower deficit to the sixth-generation Super Vette. With the Z07's sticky tires and the eight-speed automatic transmission, the Grand Sport will do 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds, a tenth faster than the Stingray's best time.
A mid-engine Corvette is one of the worst-kept secrets in the automotive world, but ask anybody at Chevrolet and they immediately clam up. As expected, Juecter didn't give us a scrap of info or even a wink. But the Corvette chief did tell us what he won't be doing next, and that's making a sedan, SUV, or any other version of the legendary sports car. (John McElroy will be disappointed.) "We're pretty busy as it is," says Juecter