A Vette with Vegas flash
summit daily auto writer
To automotive purists, the Chevrolet Corvette still occupies one very brutal end of the vehicular spectrum.
It doesn’t have the meticulously engineered precision of a Porsche, the out-of-control testosterone of a Lamborghini or even the fit and finish of a Kia but … it remains as all-American and over-the-top as monster trucks, “Man v. Food” and Kim Kardashian.
The already vicious Corvette, outfitted with a 6.2-liter pushrod V8, has been given a bit of a glossy (and powerful) repackaging as this year’s Grand Sport edition, which uses a dry sump oil system and a bit of grinding and blowing to yield 436 horsepower.
As a result, the heartbreakingly fast and noisy ‘Vette, all raw, ridiculously powerful and yet totally agile, is made even more so, though the Grand Sport tweaks are largely cosmetic.
Improved aerodynamic fascias (and a totally curb-scratching front lip), unmistakable racing stripes, the super-loud, dual-mode performance exhaust and blindingly bright, chrome-plated aluminum wheels take the ‘Vette’s exterior to Vegas levels of flash.
Inside, if you go for the full, $15,000 package of options, you get a leather-topped dash, doors, extensively retooled seats, navigation system and even a little faux carbon fiber flourish on the center stack.
Those pipes oughta come with a Parental Advisory warning on ’em. Settle inside (getting into a Corvette is pretty easy, compared to this year’s other cavalcade of Very Expensive Cars), poke the ominously green-glowing starter button, and the erupting gurgle of exhaust is more powerboat than land-based machine.
Lay into it a bit (and remember this is a car that can do nearly 60 mph in first gear) and the American auto industry’s most heinous and hellacious crackle erupts. Let off the gas and the unburned fuel pops and blats and hisses, magnificently.
That full-throttle exhaust note alone might justify dropping nearly 70 large on a supercar that still features an Aveo-styled AC control panel, a junky nav display and a general rough-around-the-edges feel you just don’t find in the imports.
Or, to look at it another way, Corvette Grand Sport is the ultimate culmination of American engineering, both good and bad.
A 220-pound friend of mine joined me for the cursory early morning joyride and found himself mostly unable to fit comfortably into the passenger seat; I suspect that among the reasons the Corvette is so favored by 50-something, ex-military pilots is that it reminds them of their days in the Gulf, strapped in the exceptionally comfortable seat of an A-10 Warthog.
Admittedly, one of the Grand Sport upgrades includes a leathery redo of the ‘Vette’s seats, but they’re still tough to take.
And that’s part of the Corvette conundrum. Its extremely broad stance (76 inches wide) and its low curb weight (3,311 pounds), meshed with that painfully powerful engine, combine to create a fearsomely agile machine that will, with good rubber, hold more than a G on the skidpad and get you up to 60 in a little over four seconds.
Mine came to me after a local media event and the tread depth could be measured in microns (I checked and a new set of run-flats for the GS will run you about $1,600, as well), so I mostly opted to keep it in a straight line.
However the Corvette is shod, the suspension and the width of those tires mean you’ll instantly feel pavement variations the depth of a playing card. In the base of your spine.
And the thing is, most of the sub-geezer-y dudes I saw out on the roads in other ‘Vettes probably ain’t gonna be smoking the tires that often (the Torch Red GS I had for a couple of days gets the title of Officially Worst Ever Car to Give to a Teenaged Driver), so it seems like they’d be spending a lot of time contemplating the stiff seating and subpar instrumentation.
The gigantic cargo bay is a nice tradeoff, big enough for real golf bags (or storing the pop-off roof panel, turning the GS into a nice summertime cruiser; the pounding Bose audi system is pretty sweet, as well.)
The high end of the American automotive food chain? Perhaps. Certainly fantastic, if that’s the kind of thing you’re looking for.
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