Writer’s note: And now from Ride Me, the occasional series of consumer vehicle reviews, is something completely different.
The mirror, self-respect and pants button projecticles bouncing off walls did not convince me to work in sit-ups.
The 2018 Covette Grand Sport Couple did.
That is because halfway into climbing into the driver’s seat the first time, I immediately realized that at least some core strength is necessary to reach the required recline position.
It became doubly apparent upon my first attempt to climb out of the street-legal race car, which is raised mere inches from the ground. I had so much trouble exiting that I ditched decorum and rolled my blobby self onto the driveway, face down.
From there it would take the push-up position to return to my feet, which reminds me: I need to work in push-ups, too.
More (or actual) exercise would be appropriate. With its ceramic matrix gray metallic exterior and jet-black interior, this two-seater is a four-wheeled advertisement for a mid-life crisis. The soundtrack? Press the push-button ignition and hear that growl that screams, “Dude is compensating!”
I should really make it clear right away that I do not have other test cars I can compare to the Vette as this column has mostly involved an endless stream of Kia, Ford, Chevy, Volvo, Scion, Mazda, Hyundai, Toyota and Mitsubishi sedans, SUVs and crossovers. Comparing the Vette to those would be as silly as … well … desperately spilling oneself out of a high-end sports car and onto a residential driveway.
Did somebody say “high-end?” The sticker price on my 2018 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe test ride, once all the options and the destination charge were factored in, was $99,230. Yikes, I think I could get three of those Kias or four Scions or five Mitsubishis for that much.
Keep in mind that over $30,000 of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) was for the options alone on this particular ride. Also know going in that your car insurance is going to rise significantly, and that the government estimates you’ll spend $4,250 more in fuel costs over five years than you would on the average vehicle. So, while flattening my stomach, fatten my wallet. Got it.
Any concerns about money evaporate when you step on the gas, shift into the higher of the manual transmission’s seven gears and suddenly find yourself zigging and zagging into the pole position after having begun the 91 freeway morning “race” in 6,932nd place.
This muther is a beast. It’s the mother of beasts. It’s mutherly beast-squared. I decided to take it to Laguna Beach for the first test drive, and because I left just after the evening rush hour, the combination of traffic and red lights made for a slow snake down PCH.
The beast would not be unleashed until the ride home, when I took Laguna Canyon Road up to the freeway. The Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires gripped the pavement and the Z07 suspension, Active Handling Stability and Magnetic Ride control had the Vette hugging the curves as I awaited the first passing-lane opportunity. (Grand Sport Performance Suspension comes with standard models.)
Once I saw daylight–or, to be more accurate at that hour, twilight–I gunned it passed ALL the commuters and settled into a long straightaway at top speeds.
That was when I realized this Vette runs, sounds and handles at its best the faster you drive it. Picture a near-blind, three-legged warthog. That’s what I’d compare this Vette to in normal city driving. It’s clunky, especially when the front wheels make FAP! FAP! FAP! noises as they hit the car’s body.
Now think of a beautiful gazelle in its prime. That’s the Vette on the open road, when hopefully there are no cheetahs (CHPeetahs) around. Everything inside and outside the vehicle, including those voices inside your head, calm down as the speedometer numbers increase. It’s uncanny.
There is no feeling of danger the faster you drive the thing, so I feel compelled to toss out this warning, based on my experience: Having opened the Vette up so early in the test period, I later found myself seeking to recapture that feeling in normal driving situations. Think back to that gazelle, only this time it had done heroin for the first time and was now repeatedly tying itself off in hopes of capturing that majestic high again … but never quite getting there.
Thus, I found myself continually seeking moments to feed the beast. I vividly recall driving alongside the SoCo shopping center at the Costa Mesa/Fountain Valley border, where it’d been stop-and-go between the stop signs on a drive home. When I finally had no one in front of me, I stepped on the gas and got it up to fourth gear before I had to down shift before the signal. Cars around me probably thought I was road raging. Nope, dude was compensating again.
Again, despite my Speed Racer antics, I never felt anywhere near out of control in this Vette. Much credit for that belongs to the Brembo ceramic brakes, which reacted splendidly in every driving scenario. They are part of an options package on this test car, but four-wheel disc, anti-lock, performance brakes are standard for the base model.
Also bolstering the sense of safety were the leather-trimmed GT Bucket Seats, which immediately conformed to my body and could be power adjusted eight ways for additional ease and comfort.
The steering wheel and shifter knob are also wrapped in leather and, as part of an options package on the test vehicle, so are the door interiors, panel and console. Sueded, microfiber-wrapped trim and Napa leather inserts were also among the options.
Standard interior features, which also come with the base $65,495 MSRP version of this Vette, include: dual-zone, climate control AC; power windows with express down/up on both sides; power tilt and telescopic steering column; driver information center; carpeted floor mats; rear-window defogger; and the keyless open and start.
You should be plenty entertained just driving this Vette, but there are these standard connectivity features in case of lulls: Chevrolet MyLink premium Bose audio system with eight-inch color touchscreen and Bluetooth streaming and Android Auto and Apple Carplay capabilities; satellite radio with a three-month, renewable SiriusXM subscription; and a 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot. The latter is rolled into the five-year basic OnStar plan with navigation, a guidance plan and automatic crash response.
Also standard: power steering, rack and pinion, driver-mode selector, capless fuel system, front and side impact air bags with a passenger-sensing system, high-intensity LED headlamps and turn signals, daytime running lamps, carbon fiber hood, rear spoiler, front splitter and side rocker extensions.
As they are part of the Grand Sport Performance Package, which is included in the base price, also featured are: performance suspension; slotted brake rotors; performance gear ratios; multi-mode performance exhaust; electronic limited-slip differential and rear differential cooler; 19-inch front and 20-inch back, pearl nickle-painted, Grand Sport wheels; run flat tires; and dry sump oil system.
As mentioned before, my test ride included some pricey options packages. The $15,000 Carbon 65 Edition package includes: carbon flash badge package; exposed carbon fiber weave hood insert; visible carbon fiber ground effects package; black, machine-grooved, aluminum wheels; visible carbon fiber rear spoiler, carbon edition sill plates; blue-painted calipers; blue custom leather stitching; visible carbon fiber roof panel with body color and blackout roof detail; Carbon 65 fender and door graphics; and carbon flash-painted outside mirrors.
The $9745 3LT Preferred Equipment Group Package includes: power bolster and power lumbar seat adjusters; power-heated, auto-dimming inside mirror; auto-dimming, driver-side-adjustable outside mirrors; heated/ventilated seats; universal home remote (to control an automatic garage door); advanced theft-deterrence system; front curb-view cameras; the aforementioned leather and sueded microfiber wraps, trims and inserts; and, for the audio/video system, surround sound, performance data and video recorder with navigation; color head-up display; and nine more months of the SiriusXM subscription.
And the $7,995 Z07 Performance Package features the aforementioned Z07 suspension, Brembo ceramic brakes and PS Cup tires.
Chevy offers a three-year or 36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, five-year or 60,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, two maintenance visits with oil and filter changes and 27-point inspections, roadside assistance and courtesy transportation from the service center.
Oh, another standard feature is the removable, carbon-fiber, body-painted roof, but I could not figure out how to remove it, even after consulting the owner’s manual. I should also mention to those seriously considering buying a low-rider (not to be confused with a lowrider) like this: Keep in mind the slope of your driveway.
The Vette would not fit in my garage, and I wasn’t going to leave a $100k loaner on the street, so I decided to keep it parked in my driveway but boxed it in with a second car. Whether I pulled the sport coupe in forward or backward, slowly or even slower, something along the bottom scraped the pavement every time. Of course, if I could afford this ride, I could also handle changing the driveway slope, extending the garage and/or switching ZIP codes. Pass me the puka shells, baby!
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.