Today, Corvette dealers, aftermarket shops and enthusiast clubs dot Long Island. Corvette attendance at weekend car shows seems almost mandatory, and there’s no shortage of local fans to ogle those bulging fenders.
The 2019 Grand Sport more than upholds the reputation as it resides in the sweet spot of Chevy’s sports car lineup. If you’ve saved your pennies for a Corvette since high school or are just seeking some midlife fun, this version is the way to go.
Yes, the primary attention-getters among today’s Corvettes are the 755-horsepower ZR1, the 650-horse Z06 or the upcoming mid-engine Ferrari-killer shown in spy photos. Practice some restraint, however, and belly up to the 460-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8 Grand Sport convertible starting at $70,590, or the coupe for $4,000 less.
You’ll be rewarded with a trusted driving buddy that can take you from a comfortable daily commute to a pedal-to-the-metal track day without breaking a sweat. The 2018 version made Car and Driver’s “10Best Cars” list and it’s an appropriate upgrade from the inherent goodness of Corvette’s basic $55,495 Stingray.
Our tester, a Ceramic Matrix Gray Metallic droptop, was loaded with $22,000 in options, bringing the total pre-tax price to nearly $93,000. Almost 10 grand goes to the 3LT “Preferred Equipment Group” that adds a bundle of interior electronics and luxuries. Another six covers the genuine carbon-fiber exterior bits that will surely turn heads at any Sunday morning cars ‘n coffee. You can eke out even more performance by adding the $8,000 Z07 brake, tire and aerodynamic package.
While the price runs counter to Corvette’s bargain performance image, the base Grand Sport brings enough standard mechanical goodies – performance suspension, magnetic ride control, slotted Brembo brake rotors and multi-mode performance exhaust – as well as ample interior amenities. To beat its rush to 60 miles per hour in just 3.6 seconds, you’d have to shell out $123,000 for a Jaguar F-Type SVR or $163,000 for a Porsche 911 Turbo.
At first glance, the Grand Sport looks oversized with its Z06 wide body. But that feeling dissipates after a few miles. Cornering on twisty North Shore roads is rock-steady flat and steering is precise. The eight-speed automatic performs admirably, with or without paddle shifters.
Five suspension settings – track, sport, touring, eco and weather – handle every road condition. While we didn’t head off-Island to the track, a spin on the Long Island Expressway and romp through the Island's fabled North Fork were alternately exhilarating and comfortable . . . as long as we watched for police, and the road dips and speed bumps that scrape the ultra-low front splitter.
Interiors were once a Corvette weak spot, but you’ll feel cozy and contented in the Grand Sport’s optional leather-and-sueded cockpit, even in brisk fall weather with the top down. Credit goes to exceptional climate controls and available heated-and-ventilated, magnesium-framed competition sport seats that seem to fit every torso.
While the infotainment system with navigation is just OK, that’s not why you buy this car. Skip your playlist and listen to the roar of the exhaust and “pop-pop-pop” in track mode when you take your foot off the gas. Use the way-cool performance data and video recorder to chart your best lap times and impress your garage pals.
If you know your automotive history, the track-ready Grand Sport may even remind you of Long Island’s legendary Baldwin-Motion Corvettes from earlier decades, with their flamboyant styling and robust mechanicals to navigate both streets and speedways. This newest Corvette delivers all of the thrills and confidence you could want. Reserve us one in Torch Red, please.
2019 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport convertible
Base Price: $70,590
Price as Tested: $92,605
Torque: 465 lb.-ft. @ 4,600 rpm
0-60: 3.6 secs.