BangShift Road Test: 2015 Corvette Stingray Convertible – We Flog GM’s New 8-Speed Automatic

BangShift Road Test: 2015 Corvette Stingray Convertible – We Flog GM’s New 8-Speed Automatic

(PHOTOS BY DAVE NUTTING) –¬†We’ve been chomping at the bit to get our hands on a C7 Corvette since they started rolling off the line in Bowling Green and our ticket finally got punched recently when Chevrolet threw us the keys to the machine you see smoldering the tires in the photo above. The 2015 Corvette Stingray that we had the keys to was a convertible that had an interesting array of options, not least of which was the new 8-speed automatic transmission that is making its grand debut in the Vette but will soon be found in trucks and other models through the lineup. While you may scoff at the notion of an automatic Corvette and we’d sure love to pull the handle on the seven speed stick that is the standard transmission in this car, we were kind of stoked to be among the first in the country to have at it with the eight speed. To get right off with it, our car was equipped with the following options:

  • 2LT package (think of this as a luxury group with stuff like multi adjustable seats with heating and AC, heated mirrors, premium sound, heads up display, etc.
  • ZF1 appearance package – This is essentially a Z51 dress up kit. The car was not quipped with the Z51 suspension but it did have the larger wheels, and more aggressive body pieces, and the Michelin Pilot tires. Our car was not equipped with the Z51 suspension package but it was equipped with the nifty Performance Data and Video Recorder option, which we messed around with a little and it was really cool.
  • The 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters
  • Remote starter
  • Multi-mode performance exhaust, which was great and we’ll talk about later
  • Carbon Fiber interior package
  • Suede seat inserts

2015 Corvette Stingray eight speed automatic 007In many respects we had a pretty base Corvette. The base price for the convertible car is $58,000 and with the $12,260 we had in options, the final tally was $71,255. Having spent a week in a $97,000 Jaguar just about a week before having the Corvette, I can tell you straight up and without fear of contradicting myself that this Corvette (sans the Z51 package, no less) would eat up that Jag and spit it out sideways, is more comfortable, and turned more heads per mile than the very nice British car did for the entire time that I had it. The Jaguar’s interior certainly was a more luxuriant feeling place to be and it certainly was a fun driver, but the Corvette is a car you could climb into and cruise across the country in total comfort and with enough power to have tons of fun along the way. Perception being reality in today’s world, the number of people who were begging for (and got!) rides in the Corvette far and away surpassed any of the other stuff I have driven this year. The C7 really is a great platform and the Stingray’s styling has made it a modern icon in a very short amount of time.

I am sure that there will be come free flowing haterade for the fact that this car was not equipped with the Z51 suspension or the manual transmission and that’s fine, but the reality is that I try to take each car that comes my way on its own merits. Lots of Corvettes in this configuration will be driven gently to Corvette club cruise nights and early dinners, and to the golf course, and if that’s what the owners want to do, so be it. That being said, there’s a beast lurking right under the end of your toe and once you start dipping into it, you can’t stop…or at least I couldn’t. The multi-mode exhaust is whisper quiet with some nice V8 tone at part throttle but when you lean into the gas slightly or go WOT, the car screams and roars in all the ways you would want it to. The multiple driver settings available change the attitude of the car some. We drove around in “track” mode for most of the week because that’s how we roll and it turns the car into the most responsive street car we have ever driven. Once you give it the wood a couple of times and it “learns” how you’ll be driving, it will hold the current gear at any given throttle position, it will go to the lowest possible gear at any given speed so throttle inputs have you planted firmly into the seat. The automatic will also assist in hard breaking by dropping multiple gears to help get you slowed down.

2015 Corvette Stingray eight speed automatic 036The 460hp base LT1 engine is awesome. A docile cruiser with a slide lump at idle that lets you know it is there and then a willing participant in the redline boogie when you bury your foot, the power curve is fantastic and we can only imagine the terror that the new Z06 will inspire in passengers with tons more power, less weight, and an exhaust note that will probably sound like the hounds of hell barking. With the traction control off and the little devil on your shoulder telling you to do naughty things, this “base” Corvette is capable of making regular Joes feel pretty capable behind the wheel. It stays firmly planted until you don’t want it to and throttle induced oversteer is some of the most controllable we have felt in anything we have ever driven. There’s never a sense that the car is going to hang you out to dry and even with the tires churning and the back of the car stepping out, gentle steering corrections keep things in the happy outer edge of “in control”. The car does not feel heavy or large and yet it does not feel¬†claustrophobic either. There’s storage space in cool hidden locations, like behind the LCD screen, USB plugs to charge your stuff, and with the convertible top down, wind noise is very minimal. Full conversations were had at well beyond highway speeds with the top dropped. Top up and it is really quiet in there. Shockingly quiet for something with a fabric roof, actually.

If we were buying a Corvette we would not option it this way because we’re a little harder edged and core than the guy or girl who would want this specific car. It is easy to make gold chainer cracks about a Corvette like this, but the car will run in the 11s as it sits and gets to 60 in under 4 seconds. Oh, it also gets nearly 30mpg. The mileage is absolutely effing insane. I thought the gauge was jacked up after a couple days of hammering on the car because the needle had not really moved. We’re not sure if it is a good thing to say or not, but the Corvette could easily be a daily driver in climates that support it. You have power to wipe the highways with virtually anything, the eight speed is a sweet piece, and the looks are awesome. I’m a fan.


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One of the first things we noticed when we received the cars were the wheels. We defaulted to thinking that this was a Z51 suspension car because of them but we were tricked. We had the ZF1 appearance package, not the zooty suspension.

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It is hard, impossible maybe to find a bad angle on this car. Each line seems to move with purpose and when you are sitting in the thing driving, looking out over the arched front fenders is awesome. Visibility is great front and back with the top up.

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There was controversy when the C7 rolled out because of the back end of the car. Nutting and I both like it. It has a very “Batmobile” feel to it we think.

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We thought about jumping the lake but then figured there would be lots of paperwork involved so we just took photos instead. The four exhaust outlets are part of the multi-mode exhaust system that screams and yells when it is asked to, meaning when the pedal goes down. In normal cruising it is as refined and nice as you could imagine.

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Under the plastic cover lies the 460hp LT1 V8 that makes the power for the car. At 6.2L it is a torquey beast that also like to run right up to the 7,000 RPM redline on the tach. The 2.41 gear ratio in the end combined with active fuel management and the 8-speed transmission mean that fuel economy is awesome, like nearly 30mpg on the highway awesome.

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Michelin Pilot tires were grippy, especially after we got some heat into them. Chilly fall mornings were not slip and slide time for the car but it would bust the tires loose easier at first start than it would after miles of driving when the Pilots got into their happy heat range. Even then, the LT1 has the suds to overwhelm the 285 width rears at will.

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Engine bay access is pretty decent by modern standards it seems. Cam swaps look like “out of car” experiences but access to plugs and that kind of stuff looked pretty good. Note the ducting that leads to the heat extractor vent on the hood.

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These seats…oh these seats. Bolstered to perfection and adjustable in virtually every way you can imagine, the seats are a very big plus in this car. Having spent time driving to PA in a Jag competitor to the Corvette and hating life after a couple hours, I appreciated how good these were. Cross country, hours long cruising would be a joy in here.

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The interior is not overwhelmingly awesome. It is nice, it is functional, but it is very much a GM interior. It does not feel cheap but it doesn’t really feel all that special either. One of the areas where the Jag shined was the interior. Granted that car was more expensive by nearly $30,000 but you get the idea. The $995 “carbon fiber interior package” is not something we’d be springing for any time soon.

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Nice fat wheel to grip made hitting bendy roads lots of fun. There’s enough buttons on the wheel to keep it functional and nice rather than annoying and complex.

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Big touch screen is good, legroom and comfort is great, but what about that transmission? The new 8-speed from GM is really, really good in this car. It does most of the stuff that the exotic car PDK/dual clutch style transmission does and does it almost as well but in a more traditional sense using a torque converter and internals more familiar to BangShifters. The shift speed is pretty incredible for a traditional automatic. Pull the paddle shifter and about 5 hundreths later you are in the next gear, same for downshifting. The one area it seems to lack on the other dual clutch style transmissions is in engine braking and I feel that is because of the torque converter. It doesn’t have the “manual” feel in that area that the others do. We spent lots of time both letting it shift itself and telling it what to do and both modes were impressive and pretty fun!

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Here’s what the dash looks like in “Track” mode. This is what we saw for most of the week.

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Here’s the layout for sport mode. Baba Booey!

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And here’s touring. The only time we saw this was when we shot the photo.

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Modes are selected by the simply flick of this dial. The button in the middle is where all the fun is.

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With the top up, the car keeps its great looks which sounds weird to say but many convertibles look all gawky and bad with the top up. The Corvette Stingray is not one of those cars. The light here picks up the million different little angles and undulations of the body. In 25 years this car will still look futuristic.

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And you knew this was coming….because it always does. The car will do burnouts all day long and twice on Sunday for as long as you want. As you’ll see, this photo was “take two”. We always work hard to get it right here at BangShift.

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We’re with everyone else in the world when it comes to the Stingray. This is a fantastic car on all levels and in all respects. As I noted earlier, this car would eat up and spit out a Jag that was 20+k more expensive than it is and look good doing it. Fun in a straight line, amazing in the corners, and this was a base model with a couple of performance options but more “luxury” stuff than anything else. Heck of a piece and it continues to be the standard bearer for American performance in our book.

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…and with that, we’re out!




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6 thoughts on “BangShift Road Test: 2015 Corvette Stingray Convertible – We Flog GM’s New 8-Speed Automatic

  1. 1Y

    I really hope you both had your deck shoes on for this outting! Great writeup and excellent photos. Motor Trend TV should pic this baby up for a spot.

  2. Phil

    Are you kidding me – I second Tedly’s comment – You lucky SOB’s. Great writing too by the way, thank you ……. Chad must be crying in his Corona.

  3. BeaverMartin

    okay, so after the Army (9 years till retirement) I’d like to work at BS. What do I need to do, other than have a fondness for automotive oddities?

  4. mooseface

    Corvette fan that I am not, I like the thought behind this vehicle, the C7 does come across as a decent piece of machinery. I’m definitely sensing an emerging dynamic with the design where hard-edged performance has been outsourced to the Camaro, leaving the Corvette team to make a likable, affordable cruising car that can bar when petted and handle pretty well.

    More importantly, I really like your reviewing style, Brian. I feel like reviews today are being steered in the direction of slander, where automotive reviewers will basically muckrake a damning review of something for the shock factor. It’s kind of reduced reviewing to a kind of gossip where someone spills the dirt on something big. You don’t do that. You’ve been fair to every vehicle I’ve seen you review, and you focus on talking about what you like, and if there’s something you don’t care for, you’re perfectly frank about it without any undue hyperbole or unwarranted smearing. Thank you for your time and efforts.

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