CARS.COM — There’s no denying the 2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport has the goods for track duty. But what about all that other time — like, most of it — when it’s time to drive around town with those steamroller tires and that aggressive bodywork? I spent a few days commuting across Chicago in a manual-transmission (An eight-speed automatic transmission is optional) Grand Sport convertible and, surprisingly, didn’t lose any fillings or rip off any fancy bodywork.
The front-engine and rear-wheel-drive Corvette’s available magnetic ride control suspension with adjustable firmness settings in the Stingray Z51 package didn’t floor me with a substantial difference between firm and soft settings on the smooth-ish roads I was driving. But boy, oh, boy, did the magnetic suspension make a difference in the Grand Sport on rough, pothole-ridden streets in Chicago; and, bonus, the magnetic ride control is standard on the Corvette Grand Sport as part of its $66,490 starting price with destination.
In the selectable Weather, Eco and Tour modes, the Grand Sport’s suspension is in its softest programming and feels more liquid with the pavement than in aggressive Sport and Track modes. In the Corvette’s softest suspension setting, the wheels flow over bumps without substantial jolts or shocks to occupants. But in the ‘Vette’s most aggressive Track mode, imagine sitting on a skateboard riding over a brick road at 30 mph and you may capture what it’s like driving on rough pavement in this Corvette.
There’s surprisingly little pull or tug at the Grand Sport’s steering wheel from the wide Michelin Pilot Super Sport summer tires, sized 285/30R19 up front and 335/25R20 out back. Often, wide tires and aggressive alignments can follow grooves in the road, but the Grand Sport tracks very well at low and high speeds. Steering effort is lighter in the less aggressive driving modes, and it helps the car feel more relaxed than the steering programming in the higher-strung Sport and Track modes of the Corvette Grand Sport.
The larger issue with daily drivability is the low front air dam, which only gives about 4 inches of ground clearance. Our test ‘Vette’s standard air dam (not the optional racy bits in the carbon aero packages) tried to make friends with a few unfriendly surfaces, but remained intact despite having signs of scraping. The Corvette Grand Sport owner’s manual provides some insight that this is inevitable: “If equipped, the front air dam has minimal ground clearance. Under normal operation, the components will occasionally contact some road surfaces (speed bumps, driveway ramps, etc.). This can be heard inside the vehicle as a scraping noise. This is normal and does not indicate a problem.”
While it may be normal for this Corvette, I suspect some owners won’t be too happy with their frayed front splitter when it’s time to head out to a local cruise night with strands of plastic dangling from the underside. To help avoid splitter damage on curbs, however, our Grand Sport was equipped with the front curb-view camera (2LT and 3LT trim levels only) that is supposed to help drivers spot a curb while pulling into a parking space. It uses a camera mounted to the nose of the Corvette — which sounds great in theory, but the image’s quality on the Corvette Grand Sport’s main touchscreen doesn’t have the clarity to give much of an idea of what’s ahead other than, “You might want to stop at this gray blob.”
It’s not impossible to use the track-focused bGrand Sport every day, though discretion toward driveway incline or speedbumps is advised, as with any low-slung sports car. On the road, however, the Grand Sport is surprisingly livable considering its performance potential.