Why the 2014 Corvette has a Manual Transmission With Paddle Shifters


There’s something odd about the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette, and it’s not just the near-excessive number of creases in the bodywork. No, the new Stingray features paddle shifters on both the automatic and manual transmission models.

Easy to miss at first glance, the paddles, which usually control shifting in an automatic transmission, help with the ‘Vette’s new rev-matching technology.

General Motors often uses the Corvette as a testbed for new technology and the new C7 generation is no exception. In other manual transmission cars, in order to seamlessly down-shift and keep the car balanced and at the ideal rpm, the driver must match the rpm between changing gears. This technique gets particularly tricky when it comes to braking for a corner, requiring the driver to press the brake and gas pedal with one foot, and the clutch with another (otherwise known as heel-toeing).

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However, the new Corvette will be a bit more helpful to the novice driver, thanks to its rev-matching technology that will automatically blip the throttle when downshifting. The system is similar to the Synchrorev Match function Nissan offers on its 370Z.

“A patented sensor in the shift lever that can predict which gear you’re going to,” says Monte Doran, from Chevy’s Corvette team .”If you’re in 4th, as soon as you start pushing the lever it can tell if you’re going right (to fifth) or up (to 3rd) and will adjust the revs accordingly.”

Not all Corvette drivers will appreciate the car doing all the work, so that’s where the paddle-shifters come into play.

“There’s no need to hold down a button for 5 seconds, no need to access the vehicle menus,” explains Doran. “You can grab the paddle to engage the system.”

“A big focus for the team was to offer technologies that improved the driving experience when you wanted them, and didn’t interfere when you don’t,” Doran says, and the Corvette seems to offer that experience quickly and easily, a must when the vehicle has an estimate 450-hp and 450 lbs-ft of torque.

Doran explained that the system will be great for track-day regulars.

“You can drive through your best corners with the system off, and then engage the system for the corners you still need to work on,” ensuring fast lap times no matter what.

With GM sharing parts and technology throughout its many line-ups, it’s not yet clear if the next Corvette-powered Camaro ZL1 or Cadillac CTS-V will use the same tech and set-up and Doran didn’t shoot down the possibility.

“Yes, it could be introduced on other models. But, no, it’s not as easy as plug-and-play,” said Doran.

Discuss this story at Digital Corvettes


VetteLover says:

Good article and completely agree about the “excessive creases.”  However, one cannot help but wonder if this is just one more gadget (albeit this one is useful) that resulted in making the C7 almost 150 Lbs heavier than a C6.  Think how well it might have performed if Tadge’s team had just said “No.” to more luxury items and said “Yes” to lighter weight. I wonder what Hill and Wallace – prior Vette Chief Engineer who focused successfully on cutting weight – are muttering to themselves when they look at the C7 weight.  “Oink” ?

Chris Black says:

Probably something like….”Damn, I wish we had taken a European stance on balancing Luxury and Performance sooner” after all, this day and age people are looking for style and luxury in more expensive cars. Look at the new Viper. The ‘Vette can now actually compete completely with cars that are much costlier. I agree that it sucks when brands change a vehicles design philosophy but at least it still looks like a Corvette. 

S2pls2 says:

shutup you crybaby

motorman says:

my question is “do you still need to use the clutch when shifting”?

BahamaTodd says:

 Yes, its still a conventional manual.

Harvey Duncan says:

Oh blast, had a comment but see I wasn’t seeing everything. No coffee yet. Sorry.

orator says:

I thought the “RPM matching” mostly went away with full syncromesh  transmissions back in the ’50s and ’60s.  At least nothing I’ve owned since then has had a problem with it.