CARS.COM — Europe might seem to be an unusual place to introduce a new Chevrolet Corvette, given that the ‘Vette has never really fit in with its continental competitors. Never outgunned but always outclassed. And European sentiment towards it has always been a bit derisive. This latest generation, however, the C7, has been changing minds all over the world. The latest Corvette is tight, well-built, amazingly competent, affordable and even fitted with an interior that’s no longer embarrassing.
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The newest version, being unveiled here at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland, is a looker. The 2017 Corvette Grand Sport builds on the heritage of the Corvette race car by that name from the 1960s. Its looks mirror those of the super-aggressive Corvette Z06 and its aerodynamic aids and spoilers. The look is functional too, with wide fenders that cover the massive wheels and tires.
Unique fender stripes set the Grand Sport apart and make it identifiable from a distance; these optional “hash marks” are available in six colors. The one on display in Geneva features marks in Tension Blue over Watkins Glen metallic gray, the standard scheme for the Collector Edition that will go on sale later this year. Big Brembo brakes are standard, peeking at you through those enormous wheels, as is Magnetic Ride Control. An advanced cooling system from the Z06 also is present, but the engine itself is untouched, making 460-horsepower from the naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V-8 engine.
Inside, the Grand Sport gets all the color options of the normal Stingray, with an exclusive, new dramatic Tension Blue leather-and-suede package to match the exterior stripes. It’s a bold look that works well on the Corvette interior, with seats that are aggressive but still accommodating for a wide variety of body types. You’ll need those sport seats to keep you in place; the Grand Sport can lap GM’s test track in Milford, Mich., in just six-tenths of a second slower than the last-generation Corvette ZR1.
The Grand Sport remains a good gap-filling model, a little bit hotter than the standard Stingray but not quite as nuts as the full-blown Z06. It will go on sale first in the U.S. later this summer, and Europe in the fall.