Chevy Corvette GS Hits Sweetest of Sweet Spots

The Corvette GS is more than just colorful stripes and badges. It adds track-oriented items such as upgraded cooling, chassis and driveline technologies.

James M. Amend, Senior Editor

August 19, 2016

6 Min Read
rsquo17 Chevy Corvette GS
’17 Chevy Corvette GS.

DAWSONVILLE, GA – If you’re lucky enough to be in the market for a new Chevy Corvette, Tadge Juechter has the perfect car for you.

No, it isn’t the widow-maker Z06 with its 650-hp supercharged V-8 and F1-like aerodynamics. It isn’t the Stingray, either, which was re-engineered from stem-to-stern three years ago with a Wards 10 Best Engines winner and value-packed sticker price of $51,995. And, no, it isn’t the mysterious, 6-figure mid-engine Corvette reportedly due in 2019 to rival the Ferrari 488.

No, the perfect Corvette from Juechter and his team of trackside scientists is the ’17 Grand Sport, an affordable but relatively rare variant linked to the Corvette rprogram set to arrive at U.S. dealers in the coming weeks.

“Racing is in our DNA,” says Juechter, the sports car’s chief engineer. “We live it every day. The Corvette Grand Sport is the purest expression of our racing pedigree.”

And before you get your knickers in a twist, yes, the Corvette GS is more than just colorful stripes and badges. Compared with the Stingray, the Corvette GS adds track-oriented items such as upgraded cooling, standard chassis and driveline technologies like magnetorheological suspension damping and an electronic limited-slip rear differential, as well as an available Z06 package that tacks on special brakes, tires and a carbon-fiber aero kit.

All of those technologies have been proved in the racing program, too, so when Juechter uses phrases such as “technology transfer” from the track to the street it isn’t hollow marketing blather. The car truly is an authentic racing machine, as we can testify after snaking around Atlanta Motorsports Park here, a spider web of a road course that demands pinpoint steering, big braking bite, split-second acceleration and sophisticated suspension tuning.

But here’s the real kicker. You can drive a Corvette GS home for a tantalizing $66,445, or nearly a $15,000 discount from the Z06. Add all the available Z06 aero hardware, excluding the clear bridge to the rear spoiler for better visibility and the tall end caps to the front splitter, and a Grand Sport could approach $100,000. But do the same to the Z06 and you’re north of $120,000.

So at the end of the day, the Grand Sport gives you Z06-like performance, albeit without the supercharged LT4 V-8. It’s not much of a sacrifice in our book, because the naturally aspirated LT1 V-8 is such a damn good engine.

There’s some unique history behind the Grand Sport, too, which adds to its allure. Back in the early 1960s, according to GM lore, Chevrolet engineers set out covertly to assemble 125 ultralight, high-power Corvettes targeting the GT production class at LeMans. But just five of the Grand Sport-badged models made it out of Detroit before GM shut down factory racing support and not a single unit got to the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Undeterred, the Corvette’s first chief engineer, Zora Arkus-Duntov, got a few of the models into the hands of professional racers such as Roger Penske and A.J. Foyt for feedback. Arkus-Duntov kept tinkering over the years with options to give layman Corvette racers an upper hand on the track. In the final model year of the fourth-generation Corvette in 1996, GM acknowledged the racing lineage with a Grand Sport special edition. It wore the Admiral Blue and Arctic White stripe of the first cars, as well as rear fender flares and a 330-hp LT4 V-8.

Just 1,000 Grand Sports were built, and three years later Corvette racing was resurrected with the C5-R. The program began its legendary run at LeMans between 2001 and 2004. The Grand Sport would bow again in 2010 and become the best-selling Corvette in 2013. Corvette racing, meanwhile, has kept up its winning ways.

Expect the latest Grand Sport to enjoy the same success. Michelin Pilot Super Sport summer tires paste the car to the hot blacktop here when trackside temperatures approach 100˚F (38˚C), while oversized Brembo brakes combine with the car’s lusciously smooth small-block V-8 and eLSD to negotiate the course’s 18 turns. There are no reports of engine overheating, despite the temperatures, a hiccup to the Z06 that led to cooling package changes in ’17.

Magnetorheological suspension damping keeps the Grand Sport square through elevation changes of up 100 ft. (30.5 m) and inspires off-camber confidence while chomping off the track’s F1-style curbs.

But a favorite technology is active rev matching on the 7-speed manual transmission. It knows your current gear, as well as your intended downshift, to electronically blip the throttle when the clutch engages so engine speeds are in sync with wheel speeds after the shift. It will go a long way to keeping manual transmissions alive at a time when gearboxes such as the superb 8-speed automatic available in the Grand Sport handle shifts so crisply.

Back in Michigan, the Grand Sport with the Z06 aero package has run the road course at GM’s Milford Proving Ground within one second of the record for the previous-generation Corvette ZR1.

Expect a commensurate level of cruising refinement out on the road, too. A drive out the AMP from downtown Atlanta in a convertible Grand Sport at sunrise was spectacular, while sprinting back in a coupe with air-conditioned relief from the Southern heat made for a pleasant afternoon ride. The two drives returned fuel-economy readings of 23 mpg (10.2 L/100 km) and 22.4 mpg (10.5 L/100 km), respectively.

There’s a full palette of color choices for the Grand Sport, which can be combined with hash-mark fender graphics or full-length racing stripes for personalization. Hash-mark details grace the interior, too, as does a Grand Sport plaque at the base of the center stack and on floor mats. Taking the racing angle a step further, buyers also can select red safety belts, carbon-fiber and aluminum trim elements and carbon-fiber ground effects. A Collector’s Edition model offers even greater uniqueness.

The Z06 might be the fastest and the Stingray might offer the greatest bang for the buck, but the Grand Sport’s combination of race-ready technology, naturally aspirated power and a colorful history make it the sweetest of sweet spots in the Corvette lineup.

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2017 Chevy Corvette GS Specifications

Vehicle type

Front-engine, 2-seat RWD sports coupe, convertible


LT1 6.2L OHV direct-injected V-8 with aluminum block, heads

Power (SAE net)

460 hp @ 6,000 rpm


465 lb.-ft.(630 Nm) at 4,600 rpm

Bore x stroke (mm)

103.25 x 92

Compression ratio



7-speed manual with active rev matching


106.7 ins. (2,710 mm)

Overall length

176.9 ins. (4,493 mm)

Overall width

73.9 ins. (1,877 mm)

Overall height

48.6 ins. (1,235 mm)

Curb weight

3,298 lbs. (1,499 kg)

Base price


Fuel economy

17/21 mpg (13.8-11.2 L/100 km)


Porsche 911, Dodge Viper, Nissan GT-R



Track-tested tech

Stingray still the value play

All-natural V-8 power

A dying breed?

Steeped in racing lore

Demand will be brisk


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