|Image source: General Motors Co.|
The LT2 bolts to a Tremec TR-9080 eight-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT), where the C7’s front-mounted LT1 sent power through a torque tube to a rear-mounted transaxle. The old car provided the option of a traditional H-pattern 7-speed manual transmission with a clutch pedal or the 8L90 planetary automatic transmission with hydraulic torque converter.
On the track, the automatic transmission produced faster times, but the old manual transmission was more fun. Critics disliked the automatic’s sluggish response to clicks of the steering wheel-mounted shift paddles when drivers were in manual shift mode, but left to its own programming the transmission was faultless in the aggressive up- and downshifts needed for sporting driving.
The new Tremec dual-clutch can change gears in less than 100 milliseconds without interrupting torque. “The lightning fast shift time is made possible by the integrated design approach with advanced Tremec-developed software algorithms, our transmission controller, proprietary clutch friction material, and world-famous hydraulic controls” said Antonio Herrera, managing director of Tremec.
Early track reviews of prototypes reported problematic shifting. We drove on the street, so it is possible that we wouldn’t have encountered any such issues anyway, but Hurley explained that the calibration teams are continuously updating the prototypes’ software, so it is also possible that any earlier calibration hiccups have been addressed since.
We were able to do some launch-controlled acceleration runs. The Corvette is impressive and the launch control sequence is simple enough to employ. Unlike the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 we also tested recently, which also features a new Tremec DCT, the Corvette’s launch engine speed is fixed at 3,500 rpm. The Shelby lets the driver adjust the engine revs at launch to compensate for variable conditions.
|(Image source: General Motors Co.)|
The Corvette doesn’t need to do that, Hurley explained, because as a mid-engine car with its weight on the rear wheels, its traction is more consistent, so the car always launches well at 3,500 rpm. The official best result 2.9 seconds to 60 mph. We didn’t time any runs, but can say that the car put a smile on the driver’s face in less than 2.9 seconds every time.
The overall result of these dramatic technical improvements to the 2020 Corvette is that the car has been made genuinely relevant again in any discussion of top performance cars. This will only continue to be so with the future introduction of any new Z06 or ZR1 higher-performance versions. But with its amazing handling and acceleration, the 2020 Corvette Stingray more than stands on its own as an incredible performance car. We can’t wait for the track test to quantify this impression.
Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.