Whether you realize it on your daily drive to and from the office or not, we’re in the midst of an automotive revolution. It’s happening on two fronts. First, vastly improved battery technology is allowing for the first affordable electric cars with over 200 miles of range — namely the Chevrolet Bolt and the Tesla Model 3, both practical everyday vehicles for a great many people. Second, advances in sensor technology and artificial intelligence software is giving cars their own “brain,” making them increasingly able to drive themselves in some scenarios.
The 2018 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport doesn’t care about any of that.
The Corvette GS is a driver’s car. It’s built from the ground up for the simple pleasure of getting from one place to another, preferably at very high speeds. Powered by the standard 6.2L LT1 V8 engine producing 460 horsepower, the Grand Sport will do 0-60 in 3.6 seconds, enough to put a smile on the face of anybody with a soul. A variety of driving modes, from the tame “tour mode” to the ferocious “track mode,” turn the Grand Sport from a gentle cruiser into a rocket ship. The seats are plenty comfortable, and there are certainly two of them, but the entire cockpit is driver-oriented in a way that should signal to any observant passenger: Buckle up, this’ll be a ride.
I took the 2018 Corvette GS for a spin through New York’s Catskill mountains on a recent autumn day, putting it through the paces on the twisty-turny Route 23A, among the finest roads in the Northeast. Driving along with the top down, we got nods of approval from dozens of passing motorists, and it’s hard not to love that feeling. Perhaps no other car better symbolizes the ethos of American muscle than the Corvette, and the 2018 Grand Sport evokes that history with every pump of its pistons. (For those curious about such matters, the trunk space was more than enough for a couple of hiking bags, but this isn’t a car to take on your Costco runs.)
I should admit that this was my first experience driving a Corvette, a car that I’ve been more or less obsessed with since I knew what cars were. Some of my experience here can be chalked up to the fulfillment of a boyhood dream. But for whatever it’s worth, driving the Grand Sport felt exactly how I always imagined driving a Corvette would feel.
I should also clarify that the Corvette Grand Sport is not a total luddite. There’s OnStar, built-in Wi-Fi, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, not to mention plenty of behind-the-scenes tech like stability control keeping you safe. But that’s more or less table stakes for a car that costs $65,495 and up. One nifty feature is the heads-up display, which projects a speedometer, tachometer and even a G-force gauge on the lower windshield in front of the driver. A HUD certainly isn’t unique to the Grand Sport, but it’s existence helps you keep your eyes on the road in a car that demands your constant attention lest you end up facing the wrong way in a roadside ditch.
All said, there’s a certain sadness in driving a Corvette in 2017. We are inevitably heading for an electrified, self-driving automotive future, and that’s O.K. — there’s too much at stake to refuse the environmental and life-saving benefits of those technologies. But the world has no use for an electrified, self-driving Corvette. The whole point here is the roar of the engine, the connection between driver and road. Even though the 2017 Grand Sport is a brand new car, driving it feels like witnessing the last hurrah of a dying breed. But if you could go back in time and ride the the mightiest dinosaurs before that giant asteroid killed them all off, wouldn’t you?