This e.t., and probably our driving ability, came as a shock to onlookers at the track. It seems to be a stigma that anyone driving a convertible at the track has no idea what they are doing, a misconception quickly clarified as the 6L80E eased its way through the majority of its gears before clicking off the low 12 as unmuffled "race cars" struggled to keep up. As hard as it is to believe a 2010 Jetstream Blue Grand Sport could be considered a sleeper, I have witnesses-don't doubt it! The Dual Mode exhaust definitely plays up this persona, only unleashing the raspier side of the LS3's exhaust note at higher rpm and higher throttle inputs. Perhaps it is just the hot rodder in me, but I would have much preferred an on/off switch as opposed to its computer-controlled and mysteriously timed operation. It seemed the valves only opened right as I was about to let out of the throttle, but then again maybe this is what helped deter the attention of the local law enforcement agents. Though there is a quick and dirty solution (as Z06 owners know)-pull the fuse for the exhaust valves and they stay open.
As with other C6 convertibles I have driven, the chassis feels solid and well tied-together. Even railroad tracks can't induce any rattles or flex common with convertibles. The top is of excellent quality, and the cabin is fairly quiet with it up. I suppose due to the angle of the windshield and aerodynamics, it also wasn't overly windy with the top down. I was hoping to do some highway testing of the wind's effects on a male bouffant to provide a photo illustration, but unfortunately time didn't allow. The ride quality seemed firm enough (comparable to the old Z51), yet not harsh and certainly not as soft as a Cadillac XLR or a base Vette. Despite all of the excellent materials and creature comforts special to our test car, the two things I absolutely fell in love with were the looks of the car-the GS body kit, the paint, stripes, and wheels-and the six-speed transmission. Unlike the 4L60E, of which I am more accustomed to, the 6L80E is seamless in its transitions and never feels like it is lugging the motor. When merging on the highway or passing on local roads it is most apparent (at part throttle) that the trans grabs a more appropriate gear than it would with a simple downshift to Third in a four-speed automatic to stay within its powerband-especially impressive given the 2.73 rear gears. Rev-matched downshifts are another nice feature of this trans, which would certainly be appreciated during spirited street driving, or on a road course or autocross.
Like its predecessor, the 2010 Grand Sport is not only striking to look at, but an impressive performer as well. It is a welcome successor and replacement for the Z51 package, and is much better at distinguishing itself from the base model while better utilizing the same powerplant. Best of all it is versatile-capable of satisfying the hard-core racer, the highway cruiser, and the car show nut depending on what options you select. Power, luxury, looks, and handling ... what more could you ask for?
2010 Corvette Grand Sport Convertible (as tested)
Body: Hydroformed steel frame, aluminum/magnesium structural components, composite panels
Engine: LS3, 6.2L (376 cid)
HP: 436 at 5,900 rpm
TQ: 428 at 4,600 rpm
Transmission: 6L80E, six-speed paddle shift auto
Suspension: Z52 antiroll bars, shocks, composite leaf springs, SLA/double wishbone front and rear
Wheels: 18x9.5 front, 19x12 rear
Tires: Goodyear F1 Supercar 275/35ZR18 front, 325/30ZR19 rear
Brakes: 14-inch six-piston front, 13.4-inch four-piston rear
Curb weight: 3,289 lbs