Yup, the Corvette has been around for six decades, so when Chevy offered up an absolutely loaded, anniversary-model GS convertible for our annual pilgrimage to July’s Columbus Goodguys Nationals, we jumped at the chance. Not having spent much time in any C6, our first impressions were mixed. It was pouring rain in Detroit when we picked up the LS3 roadster (sorry: the top-dog 427-powered version was unavailable), so we hardly had a chance to admire its distinctive anniversary color combo of Arctic White with silver stripes, paired with a Diamond Blue interior and top, before jumping in and splashing south down Interstate I-75 towards Ohio.
Our aging spine immediately reported that the Grand Sport’s Z06-spec suspension and short-sidewall rolling stock were clearly not ideally suited to the Motor City’s horribly cratered freeway pavement—even when the optional ($1,695) Magnetic Selective Ride Control was set to Tour mode rather than Sport. Plus, road noise with the top up—particularly rear tire racket as the run-flat Goodyear Eagle F1s hammered over the broken concrete—was intrusive, and the optional navigation system (part of the $11,495 4LT Premium Equipment Group) seemed of a quality more suitable to an el cheapo Cruze rather than a $78,485 Corvette. But so much for complaints.
Once we cleared the rain and rolled onto Ohio’s notably more civilized asphalt, we began to sample some of the legendary Corvette magic. It was time to let out the horses. Even with "only" 436 hp, the 6.2L LS3 reacts to a heavy boot of throttle with all the frantic urgency of a whitetail buck in hunting season, while at the same time the optional dual-mode exhaust lets out a cultured roar like that of a Les Paul through a Marshall stack, fully justifying its $1,195 price tag. And our tester’s paddle-shifted 6-speed auto was a pleasant, quick-reflexed surprise.
Still, all this boring interstate cruising was masking most of the C6’s finest traits. Once onto secondary roads with actual curves and elevation changes, the Grand Sport was fully in its element, doling out handling that makes you immediately forget all about that pesky ride quality. Brakes? World-class, thank you, matched by steering response that will simply ruin you for any other road car. And, yes, life gets even better when the top goes down…
Oh, and if you still need more evidence to convince the spouse, tell her that, over our five days with this legendary American sports car, to our considerable surprise, we averaged over 24 mpg, no doubt thanks in part to its 2.73:1 final drive ratio. These days GM seems inordinately worried about convincing the world how "green" it is, so, with this kind of fuel economy and performance, the Corvette might just be the ultimate combination of road-hugger and tree-hugger.