After 66 years of a traditional front engine layout, the C8 Corvette marks the transition to a mid-engined platform. But with this revolutionary change comes a ripple effect. Because for the first time since the V8 engine was introduced to the Corvette in 1955, a manual transmission is no longer available. Chevrolet instead opted to make the C8 the first Corvette to utilize an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. While fans of the storied sports car have mixed feelings about this change, Chevrolet has released a video detailing this new transmission.
Corvette executive chief engineer Tadge Juechter says it best right at the start of the clip: Chevrolet decided to build a DCT because that’s what customers have been asking for. Considering the number of sports cars on the market that offer a DCT instead of a traditional torque converter automatic, this does seem like a reasonable request from customers. The argument for a dual-clutch of course comes from a place of performance, as the systems allow for rapid fire shifts in both manual and automatic modes.
In the video, chief Corvette engineer Ed Piatek says that the DCT in the C8 Corvette will be able to shift in less than 100 milliseconds, which is quite a bit faster than any human could ratchet off a gear change. The speed at which a dual-clutch can shift is a result of the gear set being separated into two individual shafts. The even forward gears (2, 4, 6, and 8) reside on one shaft, while the odd numbered gears (1, 3, 5, 7) sit on another. With the help of some computer programing, the transmission can simultaneously engage the next gear while still disengaging the current gear shaft, resulting in an extremely quick shift that limits deceleration. By channeling torque through both shafts at once, Chevrolet was able to launch the car much harder, resulting in quicker 0-60 mph sprints.
The bespoke transmission was designed in tandem with the chassis team with the intent of keeping a lower center of gravity, along with being created to handle everything planned for the eighth-generation Corvette. That of course means that the DCT will find its way into the high performance models like the Z06 and ZR1. All in all it does seem like the transition to a dual clutch box was necessary to get the performance out of the C8 Corvette that Chevy was looking for, though that doesn’t offer much solace for losing yet another manual transmission.