Vital Stats

Engine:
6.2L V8
Power:
460 HP / 465 LB-FT
Transmission:
8-Speed Auto
0-60 Time:
3.7 Seconds
Drivetrain:
Rear-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,298 LBS
Seating:
2
Cargo:
15.0 CU-FT
MPG:
16 City / 29 HWY
Base Price:
$53,000 (est)
UPDATE: Our sources at Chevy have updated their estimate of the cost of the eight-speed automatic from $1,800 to $1,725. We've changed the text to reflect the new number. Per the same source, we have also included an estimated as-tested price, though we'd like to reiterate that pricing is not final.

If the world were populated exclusively with Autoblog commenters, Chevrolet probably wouldn't even offer an automatic transmission in its 2015 Corvette Stingray. Somehow the desire to drive with three pedals and the willingness to leave your two cents on a digital car review are inexorably linked.

But, of course, the comment section of our fair website is not the real world, exactly. The reality is that some 65 percent of Corvette C7s sold so far have been equipped with two pedals. During the 2014 model year, that has meant that the almost universally lauded new Stingray has shipped mostly with a six-speed automatic that wasn't up to the technological standards of the rest of the car.

When he reviewed the C7 for the first time, our own Michael Harley had these, not-minced words to say about the existing 6AT:

"The traditional six-speed automatic seemed to extinguish the C7's performance edge. I found it softer, slower and more lethargic (even paddle-initiated shifts had annoying lag). Even though it was every bit as quick in terms of outright acceleration, the gearbox took much of the excitement out of the driving experience."

Clearly there was room to improve.

Thankfully, I can now report that the improvements have been made, and that the new, General Motors-designed Hydra-Matic 8L90 is up to the task of shifting one of the best sports cars in the world. Take heed, 65-percenters.

Driving Notes
  • With some fantastic, many-geared automatic transmissions on the market from specialized companies like ZF, GM engineers knew that their unit would need to be world class. To that end, they concentrated on improving performance without sacrificing durability; all while needing to satisfy the challenging packaging requirements of the Corvette. Aluminum and magnesium have been used to reduce rotational mass, while pressed steel parts can still be found in the torque-bearing bits of the trans. A chain-driven, binary-vane oil pump in the sump has even been optimized for low- and high-speed engine loads. All of that helps to make this 8AT incredibly fast acting and responsive, while also improving fuel efficiency.
  • And it's strong. The trans was designed around the upcoming Z06, meaning it had to be rated to handle more than 650 pound-feet of torque.
  • Down to it then. Executing shifts in manual mode feels dual-clutch quick, for sure. The Chevy guys were puffing out their chests talking about the speed of this 8AT versus Porsche's PDK, and the truth is that the reaction time from paddle-pull to upshift is right there. At least, as that's what my imperfect human brain can suss out – any advantage to the quickest dual clutches I've yanked would require a machine to judge.
  • For my money though, and for the love of the 65-percent, the real test comes when you leave the lever in D. I actually did all but one of my laps of GM's dizzying Milford Road Course in full auto mode, and found the programming and response time of the trans to be impeccable. Set to Race mode, the software seemed to have me in the right gear for every corner entrance and exit, holding each of the short ratios for maximum power delivery as I ran up the few straight bits.
  • I got a hot lap with one of the GM hotshoes, as well, which confirmed outright capability of the 8L90. I may not have believed my driver's rhetoric alone – he told me he was quicker in full auto than when shifting for himself – but on his lightning lap, I could hear the car clicking off gears in synchronization with the needs of the track.
  • As for driving on public streets – of which I did for perhaps 50 miles – the AT is just dandy, too. To be fair, it's over the course of spirited-back-road driving that the involvement of a manual transmission is most enjoyable to me. But the eight-speed had no issue going from leisurely cruising to the occasional moment of massive corner attack, and back again.
  • For daily driving, Chevy says 8AT owners will see a 3.5-percent improvement in fuel economy. Preliminary EPA estimates show ratings of 29 miles per gallon on the highway, 16 in the city and 20 combined (with the standard engine). What's more, I was told those numbers should continue the Corvette tradition of being easy to achieve in the real world (something owners are strangely likely to brag about).
  • Oh, and the new auto is quicker to 60 mph, too – 3.7 seconds to do the deed with the Z51 performance package. That's a tenth quicker than the manual, for the record.
  • It is also just a bit more expensive. Though full pricing for the MY15 cars hasn't been given yet, I was told the eight speed will add $1,725 to the sticker price, versus the $1,600 asked for the outgoing automatic.
  • There's no question that the great things we had to say about the 2014 Corvette stay true for 2015, too. The handling at a race pace is sublime with occasional moments of scariness if you, like me, don't go to work in head-to-toe Nomex. I was particularly impressed with the overall grip of the car, even after I did half a lap of MRC in some light rain. This is a balanced, poised machine until you get silly with it (and even then, it's still fun).
  • On a personal note, and repping for the really tall guys everywhere, I will say that there's less room in the cabin for my six feet and five inches than I'd like, at least when I'm wearing a helmet. On public roads, I felt a bit cramped laterally, but not so badly that I'd feel the need to, you know, not drive a Corvette. On the other hand, if you're really tall and looking for a car to track, you might want to measure out carefully.
To sum: the 2015 Corvette Stingray is a brilliant sports car made better for most of its actual buyers with this transmission. It may not be the purist's special, but it is a highly advanced unit that will offer real gains for many drivers, and is closer than ever to the goodness of the enthusiast-darling stick shift. You may not love my saying it, Average Autoblog Commenter, but you really should respect these AT chops.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 79 Comments
      Rex Seven
      • 4 Months Ago

      A few years ago I had a nightmare.  I heard some commotion in my garage and went to investigate and found some people replacing the manual in my RX7 with an automatic.  The manual was being recalled for some reason they claimed.  I woke up very pissed off. I swear this is true.

        Gorgenapper
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Rex Seven

        Thanks for the hearty serving of schadenfreude, it was delicious.

        Matt
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Rex Seven

        I had a nightmare that my Corvette was replaced with an RX7. It was awful.

        JK - just wanted to contribute an OT reply like yours.

          ravenosa
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Matt

          Well, at least your interior was nice for a short amount of time. Were your fuzzy dice still intact?

        carguy1701
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Rex Seven
        And...?  If anything the RX-7 would be recalled for constantly eating apex seals (at least the turbo versions, anyway).
      sevenfeet
      • 4 Months Ago

      One more thing about this is that it marks the return of GM to market competitive automatic transmissions ("Hydra-Matic"), which was embarrassing for them since they invented the Hydra-Matic back in the late 1930s.  The reason GM was late to the 8 speed party was the bankruptcy, where the next generation transmission program was put on hold while the company reorganized.  A few GM cars like the 2014 CTS got Aisin sourced models in the interim.  Now GM has brought this back in house.


        carguy1701
        • 4 Months Ago
        @sevenfeet

        For this and the trucks, yeah.  The CTS, for now at least, is still using the Aisin 8AT (and the ATS, Camaro, and the SS are still using the 6AT).  I suspect the GM 8AT will go in to the rest of the cars over the next couple of model years.

          Jason
          • 4 Months Ago
          @carguy1701

          Only the CTS V-Sport uses the Aisin 8-speed. The other engines are mated to the 6-speed GM AT. For now.

        Rutledge Rivers Webb
        • 4 Months Ago
        @sevenfeet

        Is the cts going to drop the Aisin and go in house for the 8 SPd?

      ferps
      • 4 Months Ago

      It's interesting that they designed a transmission specifically for this application and went with a conventional auto instead of a dual clutch. That seems to be the case with other manufacturers as well (Jaguar and Mercedes come to mind). I wonder if they low-speed jerkiness associated with dual clutch transmissions is deemed too problematic. Or perhaps it's an issue of longevity, especially in high torque applications.

        over9000
        • 4 Months Ago
        @ferps

        Or maybe, JUST MAYBE, conventional autos are more durable...

          Nick B
          • 4 Months Ago
          @over9000

          This.

          GM themselves said they went with this transmission because they couldnt find a DCT that was financially feasible that could hold up to the torque the LT4 produces over the long term.

        pavsterrocks
        • 4 Months Ago
        @ferps

        A traditional autobox already has a bunch of clutches inside.  So in a way it's better because a dual-clutch may guess wrong about what gear you want to be in, resulting in a slower shift.  But the advantage here is the torque converter really helps out at speeds slower than idle.  

        Jason
        • 4 Months Ago
        @ferps


        GM doesn't design any transmission 'specifically for' any application. You can be sure it will see duty in other GM platforms, they would not invest so much otherwise.

      TrueDat
      • 4 Months Ago

      Also remember: the goal of building a sports car is to make it go as fast as possible with the materials and technology at hand. this 8AT does exactly that.. it maximizes the performance of the Corvette in a way the old 6AT never could. thats what makes this "okay", in my opinion.


      would i buy it? no.. i would most certainly opt for the 7MT. however, i don't see anything wrong with opting for the 8AT in this case because it makes the car faster. thats a good thing.
      bleexeo
      • 4 Months Ago

      It all depends on the car.

      You can make an argument that the purist's Corvette is an automatic since over the many years most have one.

      That's different than say for a purist's Miata since most of those have a manual.

        Matt Mossberg
        • 4 Months Ago
        @bleexeo

        I know for the c5 and c6, the majority of owners did choose the manual option 

      mikeybyte1
      • 4 Months Ago

      Purists may always want a manual, but as you indicate more people chose the AT. I for one have no problem with people buying a sports car with an AT. It is all about choice. It is nice to see such a high performance 8 speed AT now being offered in the Stingray. Nicely done!

        Azsori
        • 4 Months Ago
        @mikeybyte1

        All about choice.  Those key words.  

        Most of 'us' have no issues with a choice of transmission...it is those frightening times where the manual ISN'T offered which is the problem.  A trend that 'we' don't want to encourage.  

        TopGun
        • 4 Months Ago
        @mikeybyte1

        I realize that it's good business to maintsteam, but I really don't know why an enthusiast should say that.

        I'd rather special cars be special...as opposed to being able to be driven by my mom.

          Quen47
          • 4 Months Ago
          @TopGun

          My 68 year old Mom just ordered a WRX manual to replace her Mini Cooper S manual. It's my friends in their 20's (a number of whom literally have no idea what "fun to drive" means) who can't drive a stick.

          Mark
          • 4 Months Ago
          @TopGun

          "I don't really know why an enthusiast should say that"

          because being an enthusiast doesn't mean being an asshole about what other people choose? Besides, just because you and I would rather all the sportscars be manual only doesn't make someone else not an enthusiast for not having that same viewpoint.
      Sergey R
      • 4 Months Ago

      I'm already started to loose extra weight in order to fit my 6'2 body into this new Vette! Need to loose extra 30-40 pounds.

      Matt
      • 4 Months Ago

      Now if only I could retrofit it to my C6. I'm in love with the ZF8 in my M235i - glad to see I'll have better shifting when I can pull the trigger on the C7.

        BigNorm Jackson
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Matt

        I'm pretty sure it's possible, gonna cost you though!

          Matt
          • 4 Months Ago
          @BigNorm Jackson

          Already put a 2010 A6 in my 07 and transferred the TCM and overwrote the OS with an 08. It has become quite the frankencar. 

          I'm up for the challenge? lol.

          carguy1701
          • 4 Months Ago
          @BigNorm Jackson
          Matt: nice.


      Sean
      • 4 Months Ago

      Great breakdown, Seyth. Really informative.

      I'm glad that you explicitly mentioned the response times from paddle actuation to actual shift action. So, no more input lag (or at least nearly eliminated)? That's hugely important to me.

      Now if I could only afford one...

      SteveM
      • 4 Months Ago

      Thanks for the quick updates Seyth. I can honestly say that I've driven an AT Corvette for years (and Commented to Mr. Harley about it as well on his review) - the truth is, for every day driving and "Grand Touring" the automatic fits the bill nicely. Perhaps more so now with the new tranny. My Cooper S requires a manual to be fun, it's the nature of the engine, but the Corvette can be a blast, can be comfy, and can be economical all with the automatic. Overall they are great cars.

      TurbosForAll
      • 4 Months Ago
      Now that 65% will turn into what?, 80%?
        carguy1701
        • 4 Months Ago
        @TurbosForAll

        So?  2/3 of all Corvettes sold since the 70s have had the slushbox.  This shouldn't surprise you.  If the auto wasn't on the options list, it'd be more expensive, or possibly not exist at all anymore.

          Chris O.
          • 4 Months Ago
          @carguy1701

          The 2012MY production stats were pretty average for Corvettes, with 7,586 of 11,647 equipped with the 6AT.  That's 65.13%.  If you subtract out the Z06s (478) and ZR1s (404) which only came with 6MTs, you get 70.47% of Corvettes that could possibly be equipped with the 6AT actually were.

           

          The order code for the 6AT is "MYC", so that's the easiest way to make out the sales breakdown.  In the C5s, you could tell the ATs from the MTs in the sales numbers from the differential on the car (I think).  Regardless, the MT sales spike at the beginning of a generation, at the refresh, when anniversary models come out, and when special models come out (ZR1 & Z06).

          carguy1701
          • 4 Months Ago
          @carguy1701

          I've seen other people use that number (including on this very site, I believe Chris O. mentioned it a few times).  Unfortunately, since talk is cheap, I have a Google search open in another tab, but can't find anything that supports that number.

          Dave
          • 4 Months Ago
          @carguy1701

          Yup... See Dodge Viper..

      SPNKr
      • 4 Months Ago

      This is a little off topic, but that car does not look good at all in silver.

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