First Drive: 2010 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport

Flogging a Corvette Grand Sport around the road course of GM's Milford proving grounds, we came to two conclusions. First, the Grand Sport is - unsurprisingly - very much a Corvette. The Grand Sport retains the same balanced and eager character that makes Corvettes so rewarding to drive hard. Second, the upgrades are perfect for the Corvette driver who pushes his car more than the average owner. With the stiffer suspension and wider tires, the Grand Sport can pull over 1 g in lateral acceleration. That means the ability to carry more speed through turns, while the large brakes do a fine job of reigning in that speed when necessary. The 430 hp is still more than sufficient, even when you're on the track. However, most of these cars will spend the majority of their life cruising public streets, and the Grand Sport also provides the ride and style, that most buyers want.

New for the entire Corvette lineup in 2010 is a launch control feature standard on manual-transmission cars. The system works by cycling to the appropriate stability control mode, shifting to first gear, flooring the throttle, waiting for the rpms to settle, and dropping the clutch as fast as you can. The result is a flawless launch with consistent repeatability. In our testing, we got lucky and beat the launch control program on our first 0-60 mph run in a Corvette ZR1. But our human limits had our times varying by more than half a second while the launch control kept each successive run within a few hundredths of a second.

The Grand Sport's substantial suspension upgrades and the slightly more aggressive face of a Z06 make it a convincing choice among Corvettes. Chevrolet will charge a premium of about $6000 over the base version for the Grand Sport models. That also invokes another Corvette tradition. With the manual coupe starting at $55,720, the Corvette Grand Sport delivers excellent performance at a bargain price.

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