Test Drive: 2018 Corvette Grand Sport Convertible

Courtesy Chevrolet

A racing heritage defines a car’s performance.

There is no doubt in my mind that if the 2018 Corvette Grand Sport Convertible I’m driving could self-program the navigation system the car would make a bee-line for the nearest race track. The V8 engine under the hood with 460 horsepower accelerates to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and it is dying to take a checkered flag. The car is even equipped with a data recorder that will note technical performance characteristics like individual wheel spin and yaw rate for post-race analysis.

The racing DNA in the Corvette Grand Sport is evident in its appearance. Wide fenders accommodate wide wheels for an aggressive stance. The mesh front grille increases airflow to the engine to keep it cool. Lightweight materials and carbon fiber components are sculpted for an aerodynamic profile. And a rear spoiler provides downforce to keep the car rooted to the track.

The best road I can offer today, however, is a parkway with lots of turns and elevation changes. It’s not a race track, of course, but the road brings out some of the driving attributes of the Corvette Grand Sport. The car’s racing heritage translates into a driving experience that is old school hot-rod in the sense that it will test a driver’s skills. There are features like magnetic ride control and traction control that keep the ride steady. And the eight-speed automatic gearbox shifts smoothly. Still, the Corvette Grand Sport demands the laser focus of a race car driver even when it’s off-track.

Courtesy Chevrolet

It’s no surprise, then, to find that the interior of the two-seat Corvette Grand Sport is very driver oriented. The leather bucket seat is built for cornering with pronounced side bolsters and can be adjusted in eight different directions for maximum comfort. The instrument display also can be configured to display racing data like G-force measurements and tire temperature and there is even a system that lets me adjust the sound of the engine so the neighbors aren’t startled with every ignition. There are five driving modes—one is specifically for track driving while the Tour and Sport mode are likely to be used most in normal driving. There is an Eco mode which puts the engine into four-cylinder operation to save fuel during highway cruising.

The remaining mode, though, is one I was hoping not to use. Raindrops are falling on my head and the weather mode is designed to increase traction on slippery roads. The Corvette Grand Sport seems fast enough to drive between raindrops but I’ve seen enough races to know that a wet track means I shouldn't throw caution to the wind. And my sense is that this car doesn't like inclement weather. It’s time to put the top up and head for the garage.

As driven: $94,045; chevrolet.com.