The 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray’s new 8-speed automatic transmission makes its presence known as soon as you step on the throttle, but it’s not exactly what you’d expect from a high-performance conventional automatic hooked up to 460 horsepower. Although the 8L90 transmission has a torque converter just like grandma’s Impala, it upshifts so quickly and smoothly that you can hear the gear changes rather than feel them. Forget about the flavor-of-the-month dual-clutch automated manuals in many Corvette rivals; no car comes closer to delivering a solid wave of torque than Chevy’s latest self-shifting creation.
The 2015 Corvette has enough power to make even seasoned drivers queasy, and we mean that as a compliment. Conventional automatics tend to pause briefly while shifting, which gives your gut momentary relief from, in the Corvette’s case, a massive 460 lb-ft of torque. That’s how the ‘Vette’s outgoing 6-speed automatic worked, emanating a distinctive shotgunlike cocking noise during shifts for good measure. The new 8-speed is utterly relentless, and Chevy’s engineers say that it upshifts faster than Porsche’s industry-leading dual-clutch PDK. That’s not implausible based on our experience, but it’s the seamlessness that really stands out. Granted, you don’t really feel the shifting in the PDK either (unless you’re in Sport Plus mode with its synthetic shift shock), but few Porsches can match the Stingray’s gut-displacing torque. The result is a roller coaster ride every time you floor it, with absolutely no letup until your foot says “uncle.”
In a word, the 2015 Corvette is astonishing, and if you’re into numbers, they’re pretty impressive, too. The automatic’s Environmental Protection Agency highway fuel economy estimate is a whopping 29 miles per gallon, putting the all-world 2015 Chevrolet Corvette in a league with 4-cylinder crossover SUVs and V6-powered family sedans. According to Chevy, there’s even an Eco-type driving mode (if you can imagine that in a Corvette) that has consistently returned mpg in the low 30s during internal testing. As for performance, the official 0-to-60 estimate is 3.7 seconds, but the engineers say that’s conservative, with 3.5-second blasts well within reach, and we don’t doubt that at all. The self-shifting Stingray is so quick that we found ourselves questioning the relevance of the upcoming 650-hp Corvette Z06.
When we test-drove the Corvette on GM’s Milford, Michigan, track, we did occasionally notice some slack when downshifting aggressively, so the 8L90 isn’t perfect, but as automatics go, it’s about as close to perfection as humanly possible. Would our more enthusiastic editors choose it over the bolt-action 7-speed manual? Probably not, they say, but they actually had to think about it. That’s high praise indeed for a slushbox. This transmission is the real deal.
What it means to you: There’s finally an automatic Corvette in town that’s good enough to give even hardcore enthusiasts pause.