Chevrolet to Cease Offering Manual Transmission on Corvette for 2017 … April Fools
Update 4/2/2015: While this may have been an April Fools’ Day hoax, we all know this fake news could become real very soon.
Ten years ago, 40 percent of Corvette buyers equipped their sports cars the way God intended: with a manual transmission. Last year the take rate for manual transmissions in the Chevrolet Corvette was 35 percent according to Automotive News, and that number is only dwindling thanks to the introduction of the supremely capable 8L90 eight-speed automatic transmission.
For those of you who have driven or own a 2015 Corvette with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and have first-hand evidence of how good it is, you’ve seen the writing on the wall: the manual transmission’s days are numbered.
GM has seen the writing on the wall, too, because Chevrolet is dropping the manual transmission from the Corvette’s option sheet for the 2017 model year.
Excuse me while I inconsolably weep with this man for 70 to 90 minutes.
Corvette owners love speed, and the new 8L90 automatic transmission is the machinery of choice for faster times on the dragstrip and at the track, unless ambient temperature is higher than 86 degrees, and unless you’re Randy Pobst, who still was able to get a faster time at Willow Springs in the 2015 Corvette Z06 with the seven-speed manual.
Related: Motor Trend Redeems the Corvette Z06: It’s Faster than the Nissan GT-R >>
However, in that story where Motor Trend redeemed the Z06 in a retest after finding out the car’s rear end was out of alignment the first time around, Randy Pobst said he preferred the automatic unless he was at a track that didn’t require fifth gear. Also, the publication admitted that if Randy would have had more laps in the eight-speed car at Big Willow, he may have been able to equal the manual’s time of 1:25.00. The automatic got a 1:25.76.
So with elevated temperatures and the issue of America’s Stig aside, 2015 is the first year in the Chevrolet Corvette’s 62-year existence where the automatic, for the most part, is the faster option, and this is why GM will cease to offer the manual transmission in all Corvettes beginning in 2017.
Man, it’s really difficult to write those words. Time for another weep break.
Now that I’ve let out another good weep, let’s go back to just the acceleration numbers, shall we?
Equip a Z06 with a seven-speed manual, and the car will reach 60 mph in 3.2 seconds on its way to a quarter-mile ET of 11.2. With the 8L90 eight-speed automatic, the Z06 dashes to 60 in 2.95 seconds and whips the quarter-mile in 10.95 seconds.
Sub-three to 60 and sub-eleven seconds in the quarter-mile is the supercar paradigm, and the automatic transmission, long derided by manual-cog-swapping purists like me, is now what you need to bring the stock Corvette Z06 into supercar territory.
And then there’s this: Corvette chief engineer, Tadge Juechter, a man who’s never owned a car with an automatic transmission, ordered his Z06 with an 8L90, according to Automotive News.
I have to say, I’m not mad at his choice. The automatic transmission has come a long way. GM was able to engineer a slushbox that can shift more quickly than the Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK). The Porsche PDK is widely regarded as the best dual-clutch transmission in the industry. What an accomplishment to beat the PDK’s shift times. It’s such an accomplishment, that even I wouldn’t kick an 8L90 out of bed, and my motto is “Manuel only drives a manual.”
Would I order, my 2015 Z06 or Stingray with an automatic? Heavens no. Are you serious? The manual transmission is dying … it’s not dead … at least until 2017 when Chevrolet stops offering it. Until then, as long as the “manny tranny” is making the heart monitor beep, any car I buy that offers it, will get it. Case closed.
As much as I am saddened by learning the Corvette’s manual transmission execution date, part of me is glad they are killing it in 2017, rather than waiting until automatics surpass manuals so much that standard shifters will be the laughing stock of car enthusiasts the world over.
The second most popular discussion on Corvette Forum a few weeks ago was a thread titled “A6 or M6?“. To decode the forum-speak, “A6” means six-speed automatic transmission, and “M6” means six-speed manual transmission.
In that thread, forum member “RaysLilVette” begins the discussion by writing, “I just want to see how many people prefer automatic over manual or manual over automatic, and why.”
First of all, for true sports car enthusiasts, the Corvette’s six-speed automatic is an insult to our intelligence. That transmission is for people who like to drive Toyota Camrys. We don’t associate with those appliance enthusiasts.
But things change with the M7 vs. A8 (seven-speed manual vs. eight-speed auto). Now that the automatic transmission no longer sucks in the C7 Corvette, you can be a sports car enthusiast, equip your car with an automatic, and you’ll actually be respected. Automatic Corvettes are now the faster Corvettes (again, for the most part), and we manual purists can’t argue with “faster”.
Consequently, it would seem this new age of good automatic transmissions has stratified the enthusiast market into two new segments: drivers and racers.
The manual transmission is for those who like to drive their cars, and like to feel the maximum possible connection to their car whether they are speeding on a track, or cruising on the boulevard. I place myself in that camp. I am willing to sacrifice a second on the track and a couple of tenths at the dragstrip for more emotional and visceral enjoyment.
The eight-speed automatic is for those who prefer to race their cars; folks who want the best lap time — folks who want to beat the other guy, come hell or high water.
Well, racers, you’ve won this one. The Corvette’s manual transmission will soon be dead. The least you could do is let it die with some dignity, and visit its grave once GM puts it in the ground.