2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Gets New Eight-Speed Transmission; We Drive It

2015 Chevrolet Corvette 8-spd 006

Chevrolet has been enjoying amazing success with the redesigned Corvette Stingray, delivering 37,000 of the 2014 model to buyers, nearly tripling sales of the iconic two-seat sports car overnight. Now 2014 model production has ended, and the company is ready to begin shipping 2015 models out the door of the Bowling Green, Ky., manufacturing plant. The new model is largely the same as the 2014, with one notable exception: The 2015 Stingray receives a new General Motors-designed eight-speed automatic transmission, joining the seven-speed manual and replacing the old six-speed automatic.

Related: 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Review

Why upgrade to a new transmission so soon after launching the popular Stingray? The reason is simple: The upcoming Corvette Z06 and its 650-horsepower, supercharged LT4 engine make more power than the current six-speed can handle without fragging itself. No suitable transmission could be found from a supplier to both handle the Z06's power and fit in the Corvette's unusual packaging, so GM made its own, and buyers of any Corvette variety will now get the eight-speed when they opt for an automatic.

2015 Chevrolet Corvette 8-spd 013

The new 8L90 automatic transmission is an impressively compact and lightweight, yet highly durable, unit that Chevrolet says works to boost the base Corvette's fuel economy by 3.5 percent to 29 mpg highway, while dropping the car's zero-to-60 mph time to just 3.7 seconds and the quarter-mile to 11.9 seconds. That makes the automatic-equipped 2015 Corvette faster than the manual-transmission-equipped car.

I recently had the opportunity to sample the new 2015 Corvette Stingray at GM's Milford Proving Grounds in Milford, Mich., and can attest that my 50-mile jaunt in a new convertible was impressively smooth.

Acceleration is as strong as ever, but shifts are barely perceptible — power is simply delivered in a long, seamless rush of thrust and V-8 growl. Downshifts are extremely quick; Chevrolet says gear changes happen faster than those in Porsche's excellent dual-clutch PDK transmission. The transmission also never hunts for the right gear; it always seems to be ready to deliver sufficient power for whatever situation is called for. Perhaps most impressive is the ability to turn the Corvette, a high-performance V-8 sports car, into something relatively frugal. My test car registered 26.3 mpg on its trip computer in mostly highway use for my test, and the Corvette's chief engineer says that over longer trips, attaining better than 30 mpg on the highway is easily achievable.

GM has a lot of faith in this new transmission, as it is slated to find its way into not only the Corvette Stingray and Z06, but GM's full-size trucks as well. It will initially be fitted to pickups featuring GM's 6.2-liter V-8, but we would not be surprised to see it proliferate across other models as the company chases improved truck fuel economy. Look for the new Corvette with the eight-speed to arrive in showrooms sometime in the fall.

2015 Chevrolet Corvette 8-spd 002

Cars.com photos by Aaron Bragman

Comments 

Ken L.

650 HP is less than the Hellcat's 707, yet that is offered in an automatic from Dodge, which they sourced from ZF. So, how was GM not able to find a supplier that offers an automatic transmission that can handle that kind of power and torque? In any case, it's good to see the upgraded option.

A. Non E. Mouse

"No suitable transmission could be found from a supplier to both handle the Z06's power and fit in the Corvette's unusual packaging"

So my guess is the ZF just didn't fit.

J

Ken,

You do realize there is a second part of the statement? It does not fit.
Also, the Corvette is not the same as the Challenger in terms of size.

Quite easily one of the sexiest looking cars around at the moment.

Othree

Corvette usually mounts the transmission in the rear for weight distribution. That would qualify as 'unusual packaging' and it's possible the ZF isn't compatible.

Do any other manufacturers design and build their own transmissions for high power cars? I recall the Viper using Tremec gearboxes. Transmissions are precise animals and my comfort level with a mfgr making their own is thin. I think I'd prefer sourcing a gearbox from a company that specializes in these sorts of things. With the strong sales of the Stingray, I would think that one of the major transmission players would have offered to tweak the packaging just for GM, but I guess there's always a cost. Let's hope these new 8-speeds are durable and don't get added to the list of recalls.

Ken L.

While I still applaud GM for developing its own 8 speed transmission for the 2015 Corvette. I still think GM should've asked ZF to come up with an automatic transmission that fits their "unusual packaging" since they already have something that can handle the power and torque; it would have probably saved them time and money. I hope GM's new smaller and lighter transmission (durability-wise) lives up to and exceeds expectations.

George_C

See the updated Aston Martins.
They have the ZF 8hp in the same location as the Corvette.

Why, when GM can amortize the cost of the 8 speed among: pickups & SUVs.

GM won't hit 30mph until the drop the runflat tires.

sheth

Are you folks aware that ZF doesnt provide every 8 speed on the market? Zf provides 8 speeds for VW/Audi, Chrysler and BMW but Hyundai, Toyota and GM make their own 8 speeds. Well Toyota's come from Aisin, which is very closely tied to Toyota. The CTS uses an Aisin 8 speed for now. Gm and ford are working on a joint project for 9 speed FWD and 10 speed RWD transmissions as we speak.

J

Sheth,

ZF also makes the 8 speed for the upcoming TLX.

Ken L.

It's the Sheth-ster again. He's back from vacation. GM missed you during the height of their recalls. The reason why I mentioned ZF originally is because they are the only manufacturer that I am aware of with an 8 speed automatic that can handle the high horsepower and torque numbers that these automakers are coming out with. It's also because it'll be available in the upcoming Challenger and Charger SRT Hellcat. 707 HP is nothing to be messing around with. Gotta have the right tools. Yes, Toyota has been using an 8 speed in the LS for a number of years already. However, ZF is world-renowned, just like the Allison's are for their heavy duty diesel applications.

Declan Murphy

GM wants their own gearbox so that they can control future costs and any enhancements that are made. Relying on anybody like ZF could easily cause troubles down the road.
GM plans to use this new 8-speed in all kinds of cars and trucks, hence amortizing the R&D expenses over millions of vehicles beyond the relative handful that are required by Corvette.

Has anyone stopped to consider that the ZF 8-speed might be much more expensive than GM's own box and that such high costs could not necessarily be passed on to the cost of many of the non-Corvette vehicles using the 8-speed.

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