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2013 Chevy Corvette Grand Sport Coupe: At 60 years old, greater than ever


America's iconic sports car is still the best performance bargain out there

by: CHEVROLET MOTOR CO. - The 2013 Corvette Grand Sport excels on the track, but is surprsingly easy to drive in day-to-day traffic, too.The Chevy Corvette turns 60 with the 2013 models that are just now hitting the showroom. Much has been written — and will be written — about how much the Corvette has changed over the years. Although built to challenge European sports cars, the original 1953 model was no match for the best of them. It had an overhead-value six-cylinder engine, a two-speed automatic transmission and a solid rear axle. In comparision, the new Corvette’s are praised for offering near-supercar performance at a fraction of the price.

This is certainly the case with the base Corvettes, which come standard with a 430-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 and a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission at around $56,000. Our Grand Sport coupe test model added nearly $14,000 worth of options, including a Level 4 premium interior, magnetically-controlled suspension settings, a dual exhaust good for an additional six horsepower, and a 60th Anniversary design package. The total was still less than $71,000, a bargain considering its performance and comfort levels.

But the 2013 Corvette is much more than the sum of its parts. All of the standard and optional features listed on the run sheet fail to capture the feeling of driving the most iconic Aemrican performance car on the road today. Now in its sixth generation, the shape is essentially a bulked-up version of the Mako Shark design that debuted in 1968. The sharp nose, wide rear end and fat tires create a look that is instantly recognizable. It attracted attention everywhere we went, despite the understated white-with-gray-stripe paint job.

Although only built for two people, the inside is surprisingly roomy, with large amounts of head and shoulder room. The comprehensive guage package is easy to read through the leather-wrapped steering wheel. Although the seats are very close to the ground, visibility is better than expected, thanks to the large front windshield. Rear visibility wasn’t too bad, either, although we suspect the view in the convertible version is probably worse than it was in our hardtop.

Driving the Corvette was the biggest surprise, however. Many reviews start by praising the brutal acceleration and superb grip on racetracks. But drivers are going to spend most of their time in town at slow speeds, and our Corvette was remarkably easy to drive like that. The light clutch made it very easy to ease the 424 foot-pounds of torque to the rear wheels at stops, requiring very little practice to drive smoothly in even heavy traffic. The steering was also light, which helped the 3,300-plus pound car feel more nimble than it should have.

Surprisingly, after driving it that way for just a few days, it's easy to forget you're driving a Corvette and begin thinking that you're simply behind the wheel of a very well made sport sedan. Then you wonder why everyone in the Starbucks is gawking when you pull up for coffee.

Of course, no one buys a Corvette to drive it slowly all the time. When the traffic thins out, the road opens up and no police cars are in sight, the performance potential seems unlimited — far more than can ever be fully used on anything short of an SCCA-certified racetrack. This is especially true when the Magnetically Selective Ride Control is set in the Sport mode, making increasing the suspension’s stiffness and making it more responsive. The softer Tour mode is best for day-to-day driving, however, especially on rough roads.

And that’s just with the base engine, boosted by an additional six horsepower. Optional engines include a 7.0-liter V8 that produces 505 horsepower and 470 foor-pounds of torque, and a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that’s good for 638 horspeower and 604 foor-pounds of torque.

Of course, the additional power costs additional money, over $111,000 in the case of the ZR1 with the supercharged V8. Some reviewers have admitted it’s almost impossible to effectively use the additional power in the real world, however, making the base version even more of a bargain, even when equipped with the Grand Sport package and other options.

Facts and figures (all models)

Model tested: 2013 Corvette Grand Sport.

Manufacturer: Chevrolet.

Class: Sports car.

Layout: Front engine, rear-wheel-drive

Style: Removable hardtop coupe (as tested) or convertible.

Engine: 6.2-liter V8 (430 hp, 424 lb-ft – as tested); 7.0-liter V8 (505 hp, 470 lb-ft); supercharged 6.2-liter V8 (638 hp, 604 lb-ft).

Transmissions: Six-speed manual (as tested); six-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

EPA estimated city/highway/average mileage: (engine/transmission): 16/26/19 (6.2/manual, automatic 1 mpg less); 15/24/18 (7.0/manual); supercharged 6.2 14/21/17).

Price: Beginning at approximately $50,000 ($70,785 as tested).