PINEHURST, NC — July 31, 2019 — There are so many ways I could open up a review of this car, it is hard to pick one. I want to say things like, “ I have a real car this time”, but they are all ‘real cars’. I want to say “Let’s talk about the red rocket that is Corvette”, but with speed limits of 25 mph and 35 mph here in Pinehurst, I can’t really speak to the rocket capabilities of the car, even though the speedometer has a top end setting of 220 mph. There are some backroads I might have been able to use to try it out to some degree, but there are also a lot of deer and other critters out there on those back roads, as well as farm equipment, and slow pickup trucks, so I chose not to put myself in an awkward defensive position in a car with a base sticker price of just under $66K. Our test model is an automatic (Thank you, Lord), but I don’t think it still really ever got out of fourth gear – couldn’t go fast enough. The picture you see is the car we actually had, and it’s parked in our driveway, where, other than the garage, it spent a lot of time. Cars should make a statement. And this one does. I am just not sure what the statement is when you have a 70-year-old driving this beauty at 25 mph around the neighborhood. Hmmmmmm.
Okay, let’s talk about the car itself. Here’s how Chevrolet describes it – “With the power of the legendary LT1 V8 engine and many of the aerodynamic components found on Z06, Grand Sport provides the perfect combination of power and handling to help make you feel closer to the road than you ever have before.”
A few clarifying definitions – the LT1 V8 is an aluminum 6.2L engine, produced by General Motors for use in performance vehicles and sports cars. It is part of GM’s Generation V Small Block engine family, and is smaller with lots of horsepower, 460 HP and 465 lb. of torque in the Grand Sport. The Z06 mentioned above was developed in conjunction with the race car and has 650 HP, and a price tag starting at just under $81K. $66K here, $81K there, pretty soon you are talking real money for a car.
Let me speak for a minute from a plain old point of view about form and function. To me the new Corvettes have beautiful form and racing type function. In the center of the console, just behind the stick is your Driver Mode selector, and you have five choices with the turn of a dial – five distinct driver modes electronically calibrate up to 12 variables, optimizing everything from steering to throttle control for peak performance in every environment. –
Eco: To reduce engine labor and conserve fuel, Eco Mode utilizes Active Fuel Management. This optimizes efficiency by acting as a 4-cylinder when V8 power is not required.
Tour: Tour Mode is the default setting for everyday driving and road trips. Engaged systems relieve stiffness from shock damping and improve comfort for long-distance driving. The customizable gauge cluster can display audio, navigation and phone data. Oh, yeah, it has a great heads up display so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road to know what’s going on.
Sport: Sport Mode works best in your favorite sports car environments, like the hairpin turn at the end of the street if I avoid stopping (what, no way, I always stop), or when aggressive responsiveness and power are needed. Magnetic Ride damping is stiffened, but tempered. The dashboard display changes, easily revealing RPMs, and the throttle note becomes more audible. Okay, I admit it. This is the mode I drove in while I had the car. Heck, I didn’t know what the ‘throttle note’ was, but really loved the sound.
Track: Track Mode is designed exclusively for track driving. ‘Launch control’ provides maximum off-the-line acceleration. ‘Launce Control’? What is this “Ground Control to Major Tom?” Well, on second thought, it could be. Here’s what kicks in in Track Mode – Steering Effort and Magnetic Ride damping adjust to provide maximum responsiveness, and Performance Traction Management is enabled and throttle progression optimizes for track performance. The gauge cluster configuration offers a C7.R race-inspired display, complete with shift lights. Okay, at this point, I thought if I put it in this mode, I am probably going to permanently damage something at 25 mph, so I didn’t even mess with it, as much as I wanted to.
Winter: In inclement weather, the vehicle senses and adapts to road conditions, distributing appropriate power to the rear wheels. With tailored Traction Control and throttle progression, Corvette promotes more confident driving in rain or snow. Okay, having said that, let’s be honest, who, in their right mind, is taking their Corvette for a snow outing? Not this guy, I assure you.
If you read our columns at all, you know safety is a key topic with me. I like to talk about automatic breaking, lane keep assist, and back up cameras that stop you from hitting somebody. The Corvette is not a family car. It is not a car you jump in to drive a mile to the grocery store. Oh, you, can. But that is not the purpose for which the car was built. It is a very high functioning sports/race car. It has front and side airbags, antilock brakes, seatbelt tensioners and a security system. You know what? That’s all it needs. This is a driving machine. In reality, when it is functioning in its true purpose, all of the other cars on the road are probably going in the same direction, at high speed, toward the same turns, and the checkered flag.
I did have a real chance to use the back up camera as I had to park in one of the shopping center parking areas and needed to back into a parking space where the car would be less likely to be dinged by a neighboring vehicle with sliding side doors and baby seats. For reasons I cannot explain, the back up camera offered a display where the width of the lines in the display matched perfectly the lines of the parking area. I was able to center the car perfectly in its spot and a perfect distance from the concrete barrier at the back. Precision parking, how do you do?
This incredibly beautiful, powerful, driving machine may be out of place in Pinehurst, and a lot of other places around this country, but for many of us there will always be a permanent place in our hearts for Corvette.
For more information on the 2019 Chevrolet Grand Sport, go to: