2017 Corvette Grand Sport Collector’s Edition – Street & Track Review | Sons of Speed


This is Brendan with Sons of Speed and today
we’ll be driving
the C7 Corvette Grand Sport, but not just
any Grand Sport.
This is the Collector’s Edition that Chevrolet
used to launch the Grand Sport at the Geneva
Motor Show.
Chevy announced that they would make 1,000
of these Collector’s Edition Grand Sports,
but they actually only ended up producing
935 of them, and only 200 of those came with
the excellent 7-speed manual transmission
that we have here.
All Collector’s Edition models require the
top-level 3LT trim, which does get you upgraded
Napa leather seats with microfiber seat inserts,
microfiber a-pillars, microfiber door inserts,
and microfiber on the steering wheel and the shifter,
as well as navigation and Chevy’s awesome
Performance Data Recorder.
At a cost of almost $10,000.00 though, the
3LT package isn’t cheap, but compared to
a 2LT interior, the materials definitely feel
much nicer.
The Collector’s Edition package adds $5,000.00
and was the only way to get its most distinctive
feature – this Tension Blue interior and
fender hash stripes.
You also get a satin-black center stripe,
special embroidered floormats, these interior
hash marks, Grand Sport sill plates and, of
course, a special plaque with your car’s
unique number.
It’s also the only way to get this incredible
quilted roof liner with matching tension blue
stitching.
But it’s almost as if Chevy didn’t quite
finish this collector’s model.
For example, the “Sport” on the Grand Sport in the steering
wheel has been changed to tension blue, but
on the fender and the door sill, it’s still
red, which is puzzling because in Geneva this
was tension blue.
But thankfully, the aftermarket has stepped
up to pick up where Chevy left off.
There, that is so much better.
The Grand Sport has been described as the
Goldilocks of the current Vette lineup, and
that is just about right.
It has the dry sump heart of a Z51 Stingray
but the wide body, much wider tires and the
excellent brakes and brake cooling ducts from
the Z06.
In fact, the only major visual differences
between the Grand Sport and the Z06 are the
side badges, the color of the tail lights
(where the Grand Sport gets red, and the Z06
clear) and the hood, where the Z06 gets a
slight bulge to accommodate its supercharger.
Without a doubt, the Grand Sport certainly
looks the part of sophisticated muscle.
And it also goes the part as well.
The 335 mm wide rubber puts the power down
more efficiently than the Stingray’s 285
mm wide tires, which means the Grand Sport
gets to 60 and through the quarter mile two
tenths of a second faster than a Stingray.
The increased contact patch and bigger brakes
also shorten stops from 60 by an astonishing
17 feet – doing the full stop in just 90
feet.
But with up to 1.18g’s of lateral grip available
with the Z07 package, the Grand Sport is bred
for winding roads and race tracks, not the
strip.
So, we took the Grand Sport to Gingerman Raceway
in Michigan, where it promptly chopped a whopping
3 seconds off the best Z51 time we could muster
there.
The Grand Sport just had so much more grip
and such better brakes, we found we could
go much deeper into braking zones and carry
a lot more speed through turns, especially
the long sweepers.
For a car with the same exact power as a Z51
and an extra 130 pounds to propel, a 3 second
improvement is truly astonishing.
Credit goes to the huge rotors, measuring
14.6 inches up front and 14.4 inches in the
rear, as well as much larger six-piston Brembo
calipers up front.
And if you want even better brakes, opt for
the carbon ceramics, which adds almost a full
inch in rotor size front and back.
Just be ready to shell out about 12 grand
when they all need to be replaced.
Now we had so much fun at Gingerman Raceway
the first time, we decided to come back and
see what throwing on a set of racing slicks
might do.
And these aren’t just any racing slicks,
we’re on A7 Hoosiers that are 315 wide in
the front and 345 wide on the rears!
Just to give you an idea the stock is 285
wide in the front and only 335 wide in the
rear, which is still wide.
This is even better!
So the only weak link in a Z51 is really the
brakes.
They just can’t stand the heat very well
and they tend to fade after 20 to 30 minutes
of a session on track.
The Grand Sport can run all day with the larger
rotors, the larger brake pads, the six-piston
calipers up front instead of the four – it
just does an amazing job, and you never feel
any brake fade whatsoever.
And that’s the great thing about the Grand
Sport – you never really have to worry about
the tires or the brakes.
You have more than you can use in both categories.
And that’s what you really want in a track
car – you just want to be able to be confident
that the car’s going to hold on and that
the brakes are going to be there.
So right away with the slicks on you notice
you just have so much grip.
It’s really ridiculous.
The car already was hooked up like insanely,
and these things just grip like crazy!
I mean that turn in is ridiculous.
It just goes where you point it.
This car is such a perfect track car.
It doesn’t have the overpowered engine the
Z06 or ZR1 has, it’s got a perfectly balanced,
naturally-aspirated motor that doesn’t throw
power on at you when you don’t want it.
It won’t overheat on you.
It has just the right amount of power to make
you fast, with just the right amount of balance
to really make you fast.
It’s the perfect track car.
Woohoo!
The G-forces are ridiculous!
Little rotation, okay, car’s so balanced!
Let’s go!
C’mon!
At this point the tires and brakes were warmed
up, so we ran it real hard to try to get our
best lap time.
Hard on the brakes.
Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!
This 1:40.94 wasn’t bad, but I knew there
was more in the car.
Now, what I was really looking for was a time
in the 1:30’s, and on the very next lap,
I almost got it.
Coming in hot!
Woohoo!
C’mon baby, c’mon!
While this lap’s 1:40.45 got me within a
half-second of that goal, just a couple laps
later, we got our best time of the day, and
here it is.
So, while we didn’t quite break into the
1:30’s, we did take over a second off our
best time on the street tires.
I don’t know what the magnetic ride update
does for you on the track.
It really helps on the street.
I’m not noticing a huge difference from
what I remember pre-upgrade on the track.
I can tell you though that the Hoosier A7’s
just feel so nice and neutral and balanced…if
you start to slip ever so slightly, then they’re
just talking to you the whole time.
“OK, we’re here on the edge of grip, we’re
just going to move a little bit, we may skip
a little to the side.
No problem, just let up a little bit and you’ll
come right back to it.”
No issues with grip whatsoever.
It’s really an amazing tire on an amazing
car.
On the street, the Grand Sport makes twisty
roads an absolute hoot, and the wider tires
makes the car feel more planted and stable,
but it will also make you fear things like
You see the rear width measures 77.4 inches,
3 and a half inches wider than a Stingray.
It’s not quite as wide as say a Lamborghini
Murcielago, but you just can’t shake that
nervous feeling driving this thing that you
might accidentally curb it.
We’re not sure if GM actually changed anything
in the seven-speed manual transmission, but
the engagements feel much more positive than
the 2015 Z51 we reviewed, although getting
7th when looking for 5th still happens on
occasion.
We wish Chevy would add a 7th gear lockout
when the car is in track mode, as that’s
one place you’ll never need 7th gear.
Magnetic ride on the Grand Sport is standard,
so the firmness of the ride is up to you.
2017 and 2018 models should definitely take
advantage of upgrading to Chevy’s newest
calibration settings, which are now standard
on 2019 models.
The update really enhances each mode’s purpose.
In its softest setting, the suspension soaks
up smaller bumps with total ease, whereas the sport
setting lets you feel everything without being
overly jarring.
We can tell you from first-hand experience,
the remapped mag ride settings are well worth
the $350 cost.
One thing you should NOT do is attempt track
mode on the street, as doing so will almost
certainly end in a bent wheel.
And while we’re on the subject of bent wheels,
this is one of the Grand Sport’s unacknowledged
weaknesses.
There have been widespread reports of bent
wheels on Z06’s and Grand Sports without
any outward appearances of damage.
Apparently, the wide wheels are simply not
strong enough to keep from bending under normal
driving conditions.
You take it to the GM dealers and they’re
basically like, “Eh, we’ve never heard
about this before,” but it’s all over
the forums, and so there’s a definite problem.
And even Tadge has answered one of our questions
as to what’s going on with the bent wheels.
So, it’s probably a good idea to keep your
wide-body Grand Sport away from any rough
roads, and definitely this is one of the cars
you will want to take the wheel and tire package
that’s offered to you at the dealership
when you buy it because one of these wheels
is really expensive, not to mention the tires.
If you’ve seen our review of the 2015 Z51,
then you already know we are huge fans of
the C7’s all-new interior, and nothing much
has changed for 2017 and newer C7’s, except
that a new power rear hatch cinch means gone
are the days of slamming the hatch closed.
Also much improved is the removable top’s
fit and lack of squeaks.
The carbon fiber dash is included with the
3LT trim, which really completes the
sport look of this beautiful cockpit.
So why spend the $5,000 on a Grand Sport over
a Z51?
Two reasons –brakes and grip.
The Z51 is a great car, but its Achilles heel
is the brakes just don’t seem to last an entire
track session without going soft.
The extra cooling and the extra rotor surface
and the better front brakes on the Grand Sport
really help it to give you that very confidence-inspiring
ability to brake late in the turns, never
worry about if the brakes are going to be
there or not when you go hit the pedal.
And that really results in better lap times.
There’s so much grip here that we just really
didn’t even have the guts to find its limit,
and it really just results in a track-focused
car – in fact, this is the track-focused
car the Z51 aspires to be.
So, if you want the best handling, best looking
Corvette that can run all day at the track
without breaking a sweat while besting cars
that cost well over a hundred thousand dollars
more, then look no further than the C7 Corvette
Grand Sport.
For Sons of Speed, this has been Brendan,
thanks for watching.
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let us know how we’re doing, and we’ll
see you next time at the track.

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