Posted Dec 10th 2013 11:00AM
It used to be that manual transmissions almost invariably had more speeds than their automatic counterparts. A car with a five-speed stick might have a four-speed or even three-speed slushbox, while another might offer the choice between a six-speed manual and a five-speed automatic. But that's quickly changing. These days we're seeing automatic transmissions emerge with seven, eight or even nine forward gears, and there's really a limit to how many gears you can expect a driver to shift on their own.
One notable exception (or throwback, depending on your perspective) is the 2014 Corvette Stingray, which comes with a seven-speed manual or six-speed automatic. But that, according to the latest industry intel, is about to change. Speaking with Chevrolet spokesman Monte Doran and citing a Society of Automotive Engineers' paper that's since been taken down, Edmunds reports that General Motors is preparing to shoehorn an eight-speed automatic into the new Corvette. The gearbox, according to Edmunds, is codenamed 8L90, and considering that GM doesn't have another eight-speed gearbox to slot into the Corvette, we're assuming this is an entirely new transmission for the company.
We'd also have to assume that the new eight-speed will replace (and not join) the long-serving six-speed automatic in the Stingray, and will probably not be offered in the soon-to-be-released, track-focused Z06 - but will surely prove a popular option on the Stingray coupe and convertible. As we reported in October, even with the current six-speed auto, three-out-of-five early Corvette buyers are specifying the two-pedal setup, with Chevy expecting that ratio to climb as time goes on. We can also expect improved fuel economy numbers to result, but whether performance will improve with the addition of two more gears remains to be seen.