Corvette’s 7-Speed Stick Shift: Too Much of a Good Thing?

By Jonathan Welsh
Wall Street Journal

Chevrolet’s 2014 Corvette, which made its debut at the Detroit auto show in January, only recently began trickling into dealerships across the U.S. — and into my garage for a few days.

With a rumbling V8 engine generating 460 horsepower, extremely wide tires and a sophisticated suspension, the two-seat sports car can accelerate to 60 miles an hour in less than four seconds and reach a top speed around 190 mph.

It sounds like a car fan’s fantasy, but the Corvette has what seems like an element of overkill: Its seven-speed transmission.

This is a surprise because throughout the history of “stick shifts,” more gears have generally meant better performance and more fun for drivers. For decades most cars had three-speed transmissions. Indeed, some cars still came with three-speeds into the early 1980s. At that point, many drivers felt four gears were better than three, and five-speed gearboxes seemed downright exotic.

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