Welcome to Critic's Notebook, a quick and off-the-cuff car review consisting of impressions, jottings, and marginalia regarding whatever The Drive writers happen to be driving. Today's edition: the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Convertible.
The 2019 Chevrolet Grand Sport Convertible, By the Numbers:
Base Price (Price as Tested): $69,495 ($92,605)
Powertrain: 6.2-liter V8, 460 horsepower, 465 pound-feet; eight-speed paddle shift automatic transmission; rear-wheel-drive
EPA Fuel Economy: 15 mpg city, 25 mpg highway
0-60 MPH: 3.6 seconds (manufacturer claim)
Max Speed the Top Can Be Dropped At: 30 mph
Quick Take: This sporty and aggressive-while-topless 'Vette splits the difference between performance and price point, and it's perfect for a weekend getaway car.
One Big Question:
Corvette owners and drivers often suffer titles like Douchebag, Eternal Bachelor, or Midlife Crisis Guy (or all of the above). So, what does it say about you if you're driving a new Corvette Grand Sport—and you happen to be a female celebrating a combined bachelorette party with your future wife?
When I asked our fleet manager to help me come up with the perfect car for my bachelorette party weekend—which I was planning to share with my fiancée for a co-ed, multi-friend-group, celebratory mash-up—he suggested an unorthodox ride for an unorthodox party. You can easily picture a bachelor driving a $92,000 Grand Sport to his party, but what about a bachelorette? I like to play with boundaries of all kinds, so I quickly agreed.
Then I let Future Wife know we'd need to ask someone else to drive our dog home from the party.
My long weekend with this shimmering Ceramic Matrix Gray Metallic rocket was my first experience piloting a Corvette. (It's also my first time getting married, for the record.) When I slid into what can only be described as a cockpit, with the all controls angled toward the driver, I giggled. I revved the beastly V8 engine, testing out the Grand Sport's lungs, knowing full well I'd be turning heads my whole time with this vehicle.
I also knew my fiancée might hate it.
Chevrolet Grand Sport Convertible: The Pros
- A Corvette is so genuinely recognizable, and my loaner was on visual-option crack. $3,995 Visible Carbon Fiber Ground Effects Package? Obviously. $1,995 Visible Carbon Fiber Hood? You betcha. Carbon fiber aside, this vehicle's exterior design is aggressive beyond belief. Anytime I parked it, I'd return to people ogling or snapping pictures. Out of all the test cars I've driven, I've never seen people react like this. There is a magnetism you can see when you're driving this thing in the wild, away from any auto journalist parking lots lousy with pretty toys. The special nature, the uniqueness, is palpable and intoxicating.
- It was also interesting to watch my fiancée's view of the car defrost as she experienced these reactions, considering she muttered, "Ridiculous..." when I pulled up to the house the first time.
- I loved the way the interior was designed to be all about the driver. Absolutely everything was pointed at the left seat, save for a separate set of passenger's seat climate controls. And as the person behind the wheel, I can say the layout was easy to take in and work with—everything was in reach. It should come as no shock that carbon fiber was dripping all over the interior as well, courtesy of a $1,595 option.
- Just like the interior, the actual driving experience is designed for the person behind the wheel. Flooring this American sports car made me want to tattoo the Stars and Stripes on my neck. The power is there everywhere—and the adjustable-mode exhaust is lovely, since it match that power with equally-boisterous sound. The performance suspension and magnetic ride control make dealing with America's shoddy roads an easy task, and body roll was minimal while careening through the paved curves of upstate New York.
- Dropping the top couldn't be easier—and that's key for a convertible, especially for one at this price point. One simple button, and you're done—not to mention the fact that you can put the top up or down at up to 30 mph.
Chevrolet Grand Sport Convertible: The Cons
- A mid-$60K base price for a car of this caliber is incredibly appealing, but you can easily option it out of anything approaching affordable. My Grand Sport came in 3LT trim, which is a $9,745 upgrade over the base. That does bring great features like the curb view front cameras that keep you from blemishing the Corvette's face while parking, but potential buyers may find the mid-level 2LT trim to come in at a better price point, while still including plenty of goodies.
- There are many tech features in the Grand Sport...but most are good, not great. The backup camera and front curb cameras project a low-res image, and the infotainment graphics feel a bit dated to my eyes.
- Active safety features are fairly minimal. Some may find that pleasing in our tech-saturated world. But you're going to need to put the top down if you want to know who's in your blind spot.
- Eye-catching as the Grand Sport Convertible may be, sophisticated it isn't. The styling can tread to near gaudy. When we pulled up to our bachelorette house, the majority of our friends reacted with some version of, "What on earth are you guys driving?" A few gleefully asked for rides, but it was notable that the reactions weren't full of lust or refined appreciation. This is where, I think, the Corvette's reputation comes into play.
Chevrolet Grand Sport Convertible: Value
Corvettes are an anomaly in the automotive world—cars seemingly without true, direct competitors. You could ostensibly put the Grand Sport Convertible against a Porsche 718 Boxster S, or the 911 Carrera, but they offer very different vibes and personalities. But importantly, performance isn't lacking in the Grand Sport Convertible, and neither is the truly American flair. If a strong bit of showiness is what you're seeking, then the Grand Sport Convertible is a fantastic option for a weekend growl machine.
The Bottom Line:
The Corvette Grand Sport Convertible is a visual showstopper that makes the case for Goldilocks power matched with good handling and strong brakes—a case not made as often as you might think, considering we're living in an age of "horsepower whores." It's also still a performance car built to be fairly attainable, considering what it is—one of its most attractive assets. American dreams, and all that jazz.
So, what message did I send cruising to and from my bachelorette getaway in a drop-top Grand Sport? I'd say it said, I was a tiny bit ostentatious...but always up fo a good time. And I can live with that. I'm just not sure I could actually live with this car.
But if anyone's offering me one for free, I'll test that theory.