Although we all lust after cars with outrageous amounts of power, if that power isn’t usable, then isn’t it more of a hindrance than an asset? Some drivers might advocate a slightly less powerful vehicle that can be fully exploited — a car with which every available pony is turned into propulsion.
How Much is Too Much?
Speed Academy’s Dave Pratte brings up a compelling point. What’s the sense of having more power than the chassis can handle? Why spend so much on a mega-powerful engine if it tends to overwhelm the driven wheels? Sometimes, a little less grunt beats having more, especially if that surplus is only going to force the driver to restrain themselves.
The latest Corvettes, particularly the Z06s and ZR1s, can be accused of having more power than their footwork can fully support. If you picture the various performance traits of a car as a series of verticals, you can visualize how, despite being a strong car on the circuit, the C7 Z06’s supercharged power exceeds its braking and cornering abilities. As Pratte puts it simply, “they [the Z06s] overpower the chassis.”
A front-engine, rear-wheel-drive car with 650 lb-ft of torque is going to struggle to put all its power through a street tire. After all, that is a large part of why Chevrolet decided to make the latest generation of Corvette mid-engined. Would it be more agreeable with a little less grunt?
Stuck in the Middle
In the case of the C7 Grand Sport, all the verticals are roughly as tall as one another. By borrowing the Z06’s suspension, widebody, bigger wheels, and bigger brakes, the Grand Sport has all the handling and stopping power needed to make full-use its milder — but perhaps better-suited — LT1 engine.
With 465 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, it’s not exactly lacking punch. As Pratte puts it, “It’s got so much torque, you just leave it in Third and let the torque pull you out.” That’s a good thing since the owner loaned Mr. Pratte the car with a set of bald Pilot Super Sports, and the more Pratte can focus on countersteering and not shifting, the better he is.
A Gentle Beast
From the onboard footage, the Grand Sport appears relatively friendly, predictable, and progressive. Pratte can dial-in slides regularly without losing his nerve. However, it is a powerful car with the propensity to slide, and too eager of a right foot can lead to some hairy situations, as he learns at 9:46 and 10:55. Despite having plenty of chassis for the power available, with 460 lb-ft of torque and worn rubber, something’s got to give eventually.
Even with the tail-out antics, it’s obvious this car is approachable and confidence-inspiring. Progressive slides, well-spaced pedals, and startlingly strong brakes (improved with G-Loc pads) allow Pratte to get up to a respectable pace within a few laps. In fact, by the end of his traffic-filled session, Pratte snags an impressive time of 1:18.36 — over a second faster than a 2020 Supra on new tires! With newer, stickier rubber, the Grand Sport could easily find another two to three seconds around the track — possibly even faster than the C6 Z06 could muster.
How’s that for one generation’s worth of improvements?