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GM Drops a Big Surprise - 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Gets 8-speed Transmission

Although it was widely expected that the “base model” Chevrolet Corvette Stingray wouldn’t get the new 8-speed automatic transmission from the 2015 Corvette Z06 until the 2016 model year – General Motors announced the big news this morning that the 2015 model year Corvette Stingray coupes and convertibles would be available with the new 8-speed gearbox.

Prior to the introduction of the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, it was widely expected that we would see a high performance dual clutch transmission in the Corvette arsenal in the very near future. However, when the C7 Z06 was rolled out at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit with a new 8-speed conventional automatic transmission, those dual clutch hopes were dashed – although prospective Corvette Stingray owners quickly began clamoring for this new automatic transmission in the “base” C7 Corvette. Those discussions were answered with comments by various GM executive team members who suggested that the new 8-speed transmission would only be in the Z06 for 2015, arriving in the Stingray for 2016.

Today, General Motors announced that the new 8L90 8-speed automatic transmission will indeed be offered in the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. This new transmission will replace the 6-speed automatic that was introduced in the 2014 Corvette Stingray, joining the 7-speed manual transmission that is standard on all new Corvette coupes and convertibles.

"Corvette Stingray's new eight-speed automatic delivers the comfort and drivability of a true automatic transmission, as well as lightning-fast shifts and the manual control that enhance the performance-driving experience," said Bill Goodrich, assistant chief engineer for eight-speed automatic transmissions. "It was designed to enhance the Stingray's driving experience, with performance on par with dual-clutch designs, but without sacrificing refinement."

The introduction of the new 8-speed automatic in the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is important for a handful of reasons. First off, the GM engineers who built the 8L90 transmission wanted it to perform just as well in the 2015 Corvette Z06 as the highest performance dual clutch transmissions sold in the world. GM used the Porsche PDK dual clutch until and the American automaker claims that the 8-speed automatic transmission in the 2015 Z06 provides quicker shifts than the Porsche gearbox. These quicker, smoother shifts improved performance by getting the car from gear to gear more quickly while also improving ride quality under normal driving situations.

Next, the additional 2 gears will allow the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray to be the most efficient Corvette ever while also being one of the most efficient high performance vehicles sold in the USA. This will most likely allow the Corvette to get better than 30 miles per gallon on the highway. In this day and age, it is hard to look at 30mpg and be blown away, but we need to keep in mind that we are talking about a 430 horsepower performance car that will comfortably run the quarter mile in the low 12 second range…and still get better than 30mpg. Fuel economy doesn’t make all that big of an impact on high performance sports car sales, but with the rising fuel economy requirements and the hot competition in the segment coming down to the smallest battles – offering 30mpg could prove to be a key selling point even for those people who really don’t care about fuel economy.

Finally – and most importantly – the 8-speed automatic transmission will bring improved performance to the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. Having 8 gears allows the engineers to set up the numerically lower gears (1-4) much more aggressively, which improves low end and mid range acceleration. At the same time, having the 7th and 8th overdrive gears geared very non-aggressively allows the LT1 engine to run at incredibly low speeds on the highway and that is what may help the Stingray hit 30mpg. Also, with 8 gears, engineers are able to have smaller jumps between each gear, which helps to keep the engine right in the sweet spot of the powerband under hard acceleration.

The announcement of the 8L90 8-speed automatic transmission coming to the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray does not include pricing nor does it include fuel economy figures – but with the 2015 models just around the corner it should only be so long before we know the full details of the 8-speed self-shifting Corvette Stingray.

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