2018 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible Review
2018 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible Video Review By Auto Critic Steve Hammes
Chevy’s performance virtuoso comes in 3 main flavors with a multitude of sub choices to ensure that you get the Corvette of your dreams. And it’s this one here, the Grand Sport, which finds the middle ground between the introductory Stingray and the super-aggressive Z06.
The Grand Sport name has been a part of Corvette racing history since the early 1960s; a moniker which has been resurrected a couple of times since, most recently on the C6 Corvette which I drove in 2010, which quickly became the Corvette lineup’s most popular model. And now it’s back on the latest generation C7 platform, incorporating the chassis and suspension elements of the high-performance supercharged model in addition to its wider tires and fenders.
It’s available as a Coupe or Convertible with either a 7-speed manual or, like here, an 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters. A plethora of options allow owners to highly personalize, giving their Grand Sport a 1-of-1 appearance. Priced at $10,000 more than a Stingray and $14,000 less than a Z06, the base price is $66,490. Go full tilt for this 3LT Convertible model and trick it out with ceramic brake rotors with red calipers, carbon fiber ground effects and the 8-speed transmission and the price soars to $94,000. Yet, it still feels like it’s worth every penny. Gas mileage is rated at 18mpg in combined driving. 87-octane will work with reduced performance and fuel economy so 93 is highly recommended.
At its core, the C7 is an exceptional Corvette, with modernized performance credentials, exotic car looks and an interior design more befitting its status level. The Grand Sport delivers similar chassis tuning, cooling systems and performance technologies from the Z06. In a number of ways, it’s close to Z06 specs without the supercharged engine and $80,000 price tag. If you like Z06-style grille, the wider fenders and track-ready mojo the Grand Sport is an excellent alternative. This is a car that can go from boulevard civility to supercar hyper in just the turn of a knob and it plays both dynamics with expert precision. Even with the 8-speed, the Grand Sport is a highly engaging drive with grip that could cause the tides to change.
0-to-60mph takes only 4 seconds with a launch control mode available for best off-the-line acceleration. The multi-mode exhaust truly awakens when in Sport and Track modes and within Track, there are 5 selectable settings for Traction Management, used for competitive driving to provide improved and consistent performance when cornering based upon track conditions and driver experience. For me, bouncing back and forth between Tour and Sport modes is most suitable for daily driving with the magnetic ride control dampers doing their usual amazing job of keeping the body remarkably compliant, particularly when you consider the massive width of these Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. Want even more? The optional Z07 package with its Cup 2 tires pushes cornering capabilities even further beyond 1.0g. Unlike Corvettes of the past, this one doesn’t require diapers to be driven hard with confidence. Driver controls seem to be telepathically connected, controlling the Grand Sport with superb ease and exacting precision. The LT1 V8 produces a roaring 460 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque from its 6.2 liters, conveying classic American sounds – no turbos required. No need to take your eyes of the road either– the head up display is big, bright and full of info. And the brakes are otherworldly; a little squeaky at times but stopping is drop dead instantaneous. It’s a thrilling, wind-in-your-hair race car experience.
The standard GT seats have long-trip comfort and I don’t feel like a sardine in here. But the trunk loses 1/3 of its space and with the tall spoiler, getting stuff in and out can be tricky. The roof is fully automatic, there are heated and cooled seats, and the MyLink system has all of the goodies, including a performance data recorder for capturing your heroics. The gauges are also widely customizable with deep reserves of data. Other than the process of getting in and out, the Grand Sport is very mellow as an everyday driver and tons of fun with the top down.
There’s no more talk of the Corvette “being good for an American car.” This one can go head-to-head with any sports car on the market.