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2015 Corvette Stingray to Get New 8-Speed Automatic

New transmission expected to be quicker, smoother, more fuel-efficient.

by on Apr.07, 2014

The Stingray will shift to an 8-speed for 2015.

Not even a year out of the box, the new Chevrolet Corvette is about to get a significant upgrade.  The 2015 version of the Stingray will trade in its current 6-speed automatic transmission for a new 8-speed gearbox that promises to be smoother and quicker, the maker says.

The new 8L90 automatic also is expected to yield about a 5% improvement in fuel economy, according to General Motors, a significant figure, especially considering the current Corvette already can deliver as much as 30 mpg on the highway, a number not traditionally associated with a high-performance sports car capable of producing as much as 460 horsepower.

“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.”

Members of the Corvette team, notably including project leader Tadge Juechter, have promised to deliver a steady stream of updates to the sports car, a move that they hope will make it more competitive with such alternatives as the Porsche 911.  They’ve already launched a second version of the ‘Vette, a new convertible.  And a higher-performance model, the Corvette Z06, is scheduled to reach market early in 2015.  A top-line ZR1 version is reportedly also under development.

(Click Here to check out the track-ready Corvette Z06.)

The new Corvette – known to aficionados as the C7, or seventh-generation model – has garnered mostly raves since its introduction last year, landing honors as North American car of the Year this past January.  But the original 6-speed automatic was one of the few things to take criticism.

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GM opted for an 8-speed with the new Z06 and it was widely expected that the “base” Corvette would get a similar upgrade.  The 8L90 gearbox is based on the Z06 transmission, GM notes, but adopts a unique clutch and torque converter tuned to the Stingray’s needs.

The new gearbox can be driven in full manual mode using steering wheel-mounted paddle shifter.  The maker claims that new software and control technology will allow the automatic to shift gears as quickly as the dual-clutch transmissions used on competing sports and supercars – such as the Porsche 911’s PDK. In fact, the Detroit maker claims that the 8L90 will complete wide-open throttle upshifts about eight-hundredths of a second quicker than the Porsche’s gearbox.

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Under increasing pressure to improve fuel economy, automakers have been migrating to transmissions offering more gears.  It can be a challenge to develop the right controller software so these gearboxes don’t constantly “hunt-and-shift,” but stay in the appropriate gear.  But when tuned properly they can deliver improved comfort and fuel economy – and, in a performance car like the Corvette, they can constantly remain in the “sweet spot” providing maximum torque and horsepower.

Surprisingly, the 8L90 is about eight pounds lighter than the older 6-speed transmission, something that also contributes to improved performance and mileage.

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