2012 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport new car reviews

Anniversary editions come in black, silver, or red, with matte-black stripes and stickers.
All the regular performance is there: GM's venerable aluminum LS-series V8.
Magnetic ride control dampers are the only go-fast addition included in the centennial package.
A dour black interior at least is nicely appointed in leather and "sueded microfiber."
The usual Corvette gripe still holds true: Despite the extra fabric appointments, some interior components feel Cavalier-cheap.
The interior material clash is clearest on the steering wheel, where the bottom-tier flat plastic lies next to the sueded microfiber wheel trim. Note the center centennial badge.

Better than: BMW M3
But not as good as: The non-centennial Corvette
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 81.22

Chevrolet brought the Grand Sport name back to the lineup a few years ago, in time for the brand’s 100th anniversary. Our centennial special features leather trimming interior surfaces and matte decals to set it apart from the less-special version. It's a package available on all well-equipped flavors of Corvette—trims 3LT and higher—from the base model up to the supercar-hot ZR1.

The centennial edition is almost just a $4950 stickers-and-style package, though; its only performance adders are the magnetic ride control dampers. Everything else shares the same base spec sheet: 436 horsepower from the LS3 aluminum V8, a dry-sump oil system, and those vacuum-actuated cutouts in the exhaust that make for an exhilarating burble when you put your foot down. It's not the package to choose if you're going to beat one up at track days, but it's a good one for collectors and Memorial Day parade participants.

Other staff views

Alan Cesar
Alan Cesar

The interior is an exercise in juxtaposition. Fancy suedes and leathers butted against plastics belonging only in the cheapest Suzukis. I had always heard about the sad state of Corvette interiors, and I thought, "Really, are they that bad?"

Answer: Yes. What's more, the seats are narrow even for my thin frame and my left leg kept slipping off the side of the seat. Forward visibility is terrible, and the rear-view mirror takes up about half of the windshield's vertical space.

It just fails as a street car. It feels cramped and uncomfortable, there's only room for two, and its limits are just too damn high to enjoy flogging on public roads. This car belongs in a collector's garage or on a parade route. Those are the only places where a $5000 visual upgrade package can be forgiven for still having pathetically low-buck materials. I'm tempted to say this car is a joke anywhere else, but that temptation is proof that it's a joke everywhere.

Buy the Corvette for its capabilities, not for the special-edition stickers.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

Wow. It's fast, it's sexy, and it's even fairly comfortable. The doors are a bit big, though, but generally you can't use that against the Corvette. That's just the way it is.

One thing rarely mentioned with late-model Vettes is the carrying room. The C5 and C6 cars will haul a bunch of stuff--suitcases, bags, etc. While it's only a two-seater, you can easily go away for a weekend in one.

Tom Heath
Tom Heath

I didn't get to sample this latest version of the Grand Sport Vette, but I've always loved the badge. Drawing a line from the early Nassau winner to the C4 Grand Sports and this latest version might be a confusing exercise; it seems the only thing all 3 had in common were the basic configuration and the iconic hash marks on the fender. While the new Corvette Grand Sport isn't the showroom stock or endurance racing ringer that its ancestors were, it is the Corvette most likely to be in my driveway someday.

The new Corvette Grand Sport strikes me as the Goldilocks in the Corvette lineup. A mix of "just right" components from the base model Corvette and the Z06, it also sees a pretty healthy discount when compared to the Z06, and is plenty capable with 430 horsepower on tap. This car could be considered the AK-47 of the supercar world; it's got all the stuff you really need (Big, glorious V8, manual transmission, rear-wheel drive, and chick magnets in the passenger seat.) for about as little money as that market segment will allow. Sure, you could go bigger with the Z06 or really jump the cliff with a ZR1, but for 95% or my life, I'd pick the Grand Sport.

While the editorial types were out with the live version of the car, I spent some time building one online. Even built just as I like it, the GS undercuts the base Z06 by about 15 grand. For now, I'm still a big pile of pennies short of this dream car, but I'll keep saving if GM keeps building them.

Scott Lear
Scott Lear

Thumbs up to Chevy for celebrating their centennial anniversary in style with a murdered-out Corvette Grand Sport. The wheels were downright tough, and the Carbon Flash Metallic paint highlighted some of the C6 Vette's more subtle design cues. The two-tone relief of Louis Chevrolet's racing-goggled mug on the badges borders on goofy, but the fact that the man raced in such googles lends a bit of serious gravity to the whole thing. This is an awesome collector-edition Corvette, and hopefully the majority will end up in the hands of true enthusiasts.

The Z06 is still my favorite flavor of Corvette, but it starts nearly $20k over the price of the still terribly potent regular models, and that's a hard pill to swallow. Honestly, my Corvette interest starts where the warranty has run out and depreciation puts them in Honda Civic territory, but I doubt that the Centennial Edition cars will ever dip that far. GM does need to step up their game with some of the interior goodies, however: Having just driven the new BMW 3 Series with its high-resolution multicolor heads-up display, the Corvette's monotone green windshield display looks like an 8-bit throwback, and not in a good nostalgic way.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin

There was a time not too long ago when the Corvette was a bad joke. Like Elvis, the cool 60s Corvette had become a bloated caricature of itself by the mid-70s. With Disco-inspired interiors, low horsepower and dis-interested build quality, the Corvette was heading towards a bad end. Fortunately the folks at GM held an intervention and decided to get serious about their "halo" car. Since 1984 the Corvette has seen steady improvement. This improvement took a giant leap with the advent of the C5, and another nice step when the C6 was introduced.

What the Corvette has become today is nothing short of astonishing. This car leaves no doubt that some of the best engineers and product development people in the world are working for GM. This new Grand Sport Corvette is quite simply one of the best cars ever produced.

I can hear the griping from the nay-sayers now......... The GTR is quicker to sixty......the Ferrari 458 Italia is nicer inside and sounds better........the Porsche 911 has better build quality....... all true statements.

What makes this new Corvette such a beacon of automotive goodness is it's versatility. Like all of it's competition, the Vette is stupid fast. Show up at any track day in the world and the Corvette will mop the floor with nearly all of the competition at a fraction of the price. While this is a stunning achievement what is more amazing is that the Corvette will also pamper it's occupants on the way home. Somehow the folks at GM have figured out a way to make the Corvette able to hang with a Ferrari on track, but also offer the comfort and convenience of a Lexus on the highway. (While getting better gas mileage!)

From top speed events to sitting in gridlocked traffic, the new Corvette does it all extremely well. It can cosset you on the interstate, and make you giggle like a little school girl when the throttle opens, or the road gets twisty. Also, the Vette is a Chevy, so running costs aren't a problem, and reliability is expected, not hoped for.

If you are still hung up on the "image" of the Hawaiian shirt wearing / gold chain infested Corvette driver, get over it. By dismissing Chevy's plastic fantastic, you are robbing yourself of one of the true joys in the automotive world.

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