By on July 9, 2013

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17/29 mpg city/highway. That’s what the C7 Chevrolet Corvette is expected to return as far as fuel economy figures go. When the C7′s “Eco” mode is selected, it will apparently be capable of the magic 30 mpg mark.

The figures released yesterday are applicable to the 7-speed manual model running on premium gas. Opt for the automatic or use regular fuel and you can expect an unspecified penalty in terms of fuel consumption. In the mean time, I’m going to stare forlornly at my Miata, capable of a mere 26 mpg on the highway (frequently less in the real world) while delivering roughly 1/3rd the power. Anyone who denies that we are living in a golden age of automotive technology is a liar.

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68 Comments on “C7 Corvette Closes In On 30 Em Pee Gees...”


  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    As special as the Corvette is, I’m glad that GM has not lost sight of the fact that it’s the performance car for the people. I’m also glad that they’ve changed out the kit-car interior for something worthy of a luxury car. It looks like an exciting time to be in the market for one of these….

  • avatar
    Quentin

    Direct injection engine making a lot of torque at a very low RPM combined with a small frontal area and a (presumably) very low drag coefficient means that they can make that 7th gear very, very tall. Vettes are generally quite light, so getting up to highway speeds requires about as much energy as a midsize sedan.

    This is precisely why diesel makes less and less sense to me. DI gas engines are producing a lot of torque down low and that is great for gas mileage because you can keep that sporty feel without resorting to a small gear band and 3000RPM on the interstate. Plus, unlike diesels, these DI gas engines don’t fall on their face at 3500RPM so you can have power on the top end, too.

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      Newer diesels rev to 5000 rpm. Granted, they only make power up to 4000-4500 rpm, but the powerbands aren’t that narrow, anymore, not with variable geometry turbos.

      -

      And while the Corvette can ace the highway, you can’t get around the fact that a big motor gulps big time in city traffic. A better comparison is the direct-injection BRZ/86/FRS, which gets 25/34.

      That’s only 13% better on the highway, without a true overdrive, but 47% in the city, just because there’s less motor.

      Still… mad props to GM for achieving such excellent numbers with such a powerful car.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        “That’s only 13% better on the highway, without a true overdrive, but 47% in the city, just because there’s less motor.”

        Mass is also a factor in acceleration-heavy city driving. The C7 comes in at about 3300lbs wile the BRZ/FR-S are ~2700lbs, a 600lb difference.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Golden age of technology, dark age of sameness-in-design. Boo.

    Also, from that angle on the C7, I get SO.MUCH.NISSAN.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    So the Miata doesn’t have a real overdrive gear then while the Corvette has. I hope Mazda fixes this in the next generation.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      I’d imagine the vette has at least 2 OD gears.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        And convertibles have a worse coefficient of drag.

        >> OP: Anyone who denies that we are living in a golden age of automotive technology is a liar.

        Well, maybe not a liar, but definitely in denial. :)

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Here are the ratios I found for the two TR6070 setups in the C7. 3 overdrive ratios in 5th, 6th and 7th.

        Base Vehicle ———- Z51

        1st — 2.66 ————– 2.97

        2nd — 1.78 ————- 2.07

        3rd — 1.30 ————- 1.43

        4th — 1.00 ————- 1.00

        5th — 0.74 ————- 0.85

        6th — 0.50 ————- 0.56

        7th — 0.42 ————- 0.48

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      The top gear on a Miata 5 speed has a ratio of 0.814 and 0.843 on a 6 speed. A lot of people really don’t know what “overdrive” actually means.

      Mazda hasn’t “fixed” their gear ratios in the last 24 years, and there’s a reason. In order to “fix” their gear ratios, they need more power/torque that can actually turn a higher gear. Until then, their gear selections are pretty appropriate for a car of the Miata’s intended purposes. While I don’t particularly love turning 3500 RPM or more while highway cruising, I’d love having to lug a low-torque engine outside its powerband in a sports car even less. The Miata’s mission isn’t to be a high speed cruiser, and I’m glad that Mazda didn’t choose to compromise its gearing in order to try to make it one. Of course, if I put a turbo on the car, I’m definitely putting in a taller rear end ratio.

      It should also be noted that the Miata is a short convertible that emphasizes classic styling over aerodynamics. The original NA is listed as having a cD of 0.38 and the current NC is 0.34, both with the top up. Top down, which is really how a Miata should be driven, is about 0.05 higher. A C6 Corvette is 0.286, and one can only assume that the C7 is even lower. To put that into context, a 1985 VW Jetta has a cD of 0.36; an older Miata is more brick-like than a 28 year-old sedan which actually looks just like a brick. Admittedly, this ignores frontal area, which the smaller Miata likely has less of, but I’m trying to highlight how ineffecient the Miata’s general shape is.

      All that said, it sure is impressive that GM has managed to build a Corvette which bests the fuel economy of a 140 hp sports car.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        No kidding. Our 2007 MX5 sport only had a 5-speed. 3500 rpm @65 mph. That was murder on the highway without a cruise control. The main reason we sold it after my commute turned into a 100-mile-a-day marathon.

        Another reason why I bought a large car. It makes life so much better! At my age, comfort is paramount!

      • 0 avatar
        FuzzyPlushroom

        I haven’t owned a Miata, although it seems like its problem is the same as that suffered by many small buzzy cars. I know they need to rev to make power, but sometimes you don’t need power – on a flat highway, or down a gentle hill, I’ve often found myself wishing, in a few different small stick-shift cars, for a super-tall sixth gear. It’s not like it’s difficult to drop down a gear or two for passing or hill climbing.

        For what it’s worth (and yes, I’m going to be That Guy for a second) my Saab NG900 does this well. Fifth is unusable below 35 unless you’re heading downhill, and pretty much useless below 40 (at which point fourth is barely turning 2000 RPM anyway), but the car does better than it should on the highway because of it. Having to downshift out of top gear for steep hills (the way pretty much every automatic car has to do, anyway) is a fair tradeoff for a few more miles per gallon.

        • 0 avatar
          JuniperBug

          The Miata’s biggest problem is that it’s a low-power sports car and people either don’t understand or accept what it is. If the gearing were taller, the ratios would be more widely spaced and you couldn’t keep it in the powerband. You’d also shift it less, which makes it less fun. It’s a car you’re supposed to have fun working a little bit to drive really-not-all-that-quickly. It was designed in the late 80s to be a throwback to the British sports cars of the 50s-70s a la Lotus Elan. That’s what it is, and Mazda has been careful to keep the redesigns true to that concept.

          If you want long-distance comfort, speed, or crazy gas mileage, it’s just not the right car for you.

          And for what it’s worth, stock out of the box, I don’t feel like the gearing is too low when I’m driving the car hard; in fact it takes quite a bit of clutch slip to launch the car even as is. There isn’t much power, and whatever of it there is lives in the upper rev range. Even by fourth gear, acceleration is slow by any measure, and taller ratios would only make this worse. The gearing is well matched to this, even if the preferences of a specific driver aren’t well matched to the car.

          It’s funny how people have a way of saying they want a no-compromise affordable sports car, and when they get something that resembles one, they want all kinds of compromises.

          • 0 avatar

            Elan True is miniscule opposed to Corvette Blue.

          • 0 avatar
            Jacob

            I disagree. They could have built a six-speed transmission using the gear ratios of the 5-speed, and then added a sixth gear that’s specially meant to highway cruise. This way, the 5 lower gears could stay as low as they need to be for race track performance. Instead, the 6-th gear in Miata is no taller than 5th in the 5-speed transmission.

            You don’t _have_ to rev a small engine to 3500 RPM to cruise on highway. An old Mitsubishi Lancer with 120HP 2.0L can cruise on highway 70mph with engine reving at 3000RPM and still accelerate and go up a gentle hill when necessary. With tall enough gear in a Miata, highway cruise at 70mph with RPM at around 2500 would not have been a problem for the 160HP 2.0L Miata engine.

      • 0 avatar
        wumpus

        My best guess is that the 6 speed is designed that way either because they wanted just a little better response from track reviews, they couldn’t make the gears any wider (why you don’t see more tall overdrives is beyond me), or they didn’t want to remind drivers that they had to constantly choose between instantly available power and propping up Wahhabism.

        Everything I’ve heard says that the 5 gears keep you in the power band just fine, the 6th could easily be used for highway cruising. Mazda chooses to not make it an option, but it isn’t clear why.

  • avatar
    segfault

    You can always do an LS-X swap on the Miata. Probably won’t fix the gas mileage, but will make the power-to-weight ratio comparable, or better.

  • avatar
    ash78

    And around town, you can still shift 2-4-6 with more smoothness and useful power than a small four-cylinder engine, with nearly the same economy. You just have to get the lead out of your foot.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Sure it can get 29 mpg… idling in 7th gear. But who would ever drive it that way?

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      +1. It’s a nice stat to brag about but that’s all. The car makes 500hp and can achieve 29mpg on the highway…but not simultaneously.

      I wonder what the strategy is with the gearbox. Ultra-low 7th gear for the highway with 1-6 tightly spaced? Is 7th gear even useful if you aren’t purely cruising?

      • 0 avatar
        wumpus

        About the only way you drive about 100mph and use 500hp at the same time would be dragging a parachute (otherwise you just keep accelerating to about 200mph). I know this site is in love with Saudi Arabia, but at some point you need to draw a line.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      My 2000 C5 Coupe would show 1,350 rpms at 60 mph in 6th and see 35-36 mpg. It was 2,900 lbs dry with a host of free flowing intake and exhaust modifications. At 60 mph my turbo-4′s cruise at 1,700 rpms(Direct injected -gas) or 2,200 rpm and see up to 44 mpg. All of the above are unlike my 650cc motorcycle with 2 cylinders that sees 5,500 rpms @ 60 mph and gets 68-72 mpg.

      So my conclusion is internal mass plays a big role in fuel economy.

    • 0 avatar
      SomeGuy

      Anyone who is on the interstate and doesn’t feel like getting pulled over for one. I get it, we all would wring it’s neck, but are you really going to be doing that on your 7:30 AM commute in traffic?

  • avatar
    TR4

    Not bad, but the EPA numbers are BS and the auto manufacturers have learned how to game the testing. This site

    http://www.fuelly.com/car/

    shows the Corvette at around 20mpg and the Miata around 26mpg. Much more believable!

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      That probably reflects how the two cars are driven. Obviously, a Corvette is capable of much more performance, and drivers are bound to use at least some of that performance day-to-day, which of course burns more gas. Drive the two cars similarly, though, especially in highway cruise, and I’m pretty sure you will see the Corvette beat the Miata’s economy. The faster you go, the truer this will be.

    • 0 avatar
      wumpus

      It would be interesting to know more of the story behind those numbers. If it isn’t a daily driver you wouldn’t expect the lead foot to ever come off the gas. If you don’t spend a lot of time on highways, you aren’t likely to to use the wimpy gears. The site tracks the milegae, but not the total amount of miles on the car (which would tell us a bit more about how it was driven).

      The wierd thing is that more cars are automatic. Are they simply puting the car in low to lock out all the overdrive gears (I’ve been scared for life by ancient automatics and avoid them).

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      http://www.fuelly.com/driver/darren5l/mustang

      Hey this guy drives like I do. His average mileage, highway mileage and city are about the same. Although I have an overdriven HEaton 5th gen instead of a TVS. Nice to know when I make the switch and fatten up the power curve the efficiency of the TVS will offset the increase in power.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    “Anyone who denies that we are living in a golden age of automotive technology is a liar.”

    Liar would imply they are being deliberately misleading with a statement like that. If someone could construct an argument based on facts or different interpretations that we are not in a technological golden age, I would refrain from calling them a liar. It seems perjorative to do so. I might call them misinformed and provide counter points, but screaming LIAR! does not an effective rebuttal make.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      Have to agree. Also, after a little pondering, now would be more accurately described as a renaissance of automobiles rather than a golden age. Automobiles are emerging from dark times and experiencing a rebirth. The golden age happened sometime between 1920-1960 and I leave it to the car historians to narrow it down.

      • 0 avatar
        wumpus

        I think you would find that pretty much every technolgy ever used in cars was invented between 1900-1920. The real work involves reliably manufacturing the fancy stuff at a cost that will justify itself.

        The fact that electronics could pretty much handle any control issues you could throw at it made a lot of manufacturing possible. Trying to make cars both safe and keep mileage under control helps justify the development of amazing new cars.

        • 0 avatar
          WheelMcCoy

          >> I think you would find that pretty much every technolgy ever used in cars was invented between 1900-1920.

          May be so, but there needs to be more than that to define a golden age. Golden Age also suggests peace and prosperity, along with great achievements. So we need to find a period where cars were cool and innovative, gas was cheap and plentiful, highways roomy, and everyone is courteous. :)

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    30mpg Corvette – golden age of technology or just an agressively low 7th gear?

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    29mpg on the highway. Downhill. Drafting a truck. Eastbound across Nebraska with a tailwind. Maybe. Or on the EPAs magic dyno. If your daily drive is either of these scenarios, I believe it! Otherwise, good luck with that.

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      It’s just barely possible with the old Vette:

      http://ecomodder.com/forum/showthread.php/tested-speed-vs-mpg-2008-corvette-z06-505-a-9841.html

      Great gearing makes 30 mpg (US) possible at highway legal speeds with the older 6-speed… just barely. The 7-speed might be better.

      Then again, I doubt most owners are willing to drive just below the limit.

  • avatar

    Put it against the VIPER SRT and watch it LOSE.

    Viper gets 14 SMILES PER GALLON.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    It will be a surprise if these cars don’t easily achieve well over 30 MPG on the highway in real world use and mid 20′s in town, driven with a light foot, particularly the automatic.

    A C5 coupe, with Z51 ratios, perf. mods and Z06 cam gets over 30 MPG at 70 MPH. I can get it down to 21 MPG if I push it really hard, with very much higher speeds and accels. It averages over 15 MPG when driven very aggressively in urban areas, say on Woodward Ave. Never less other than hot lapping a race track.

    The new powertrain is far superior; the LT1 engine’s superb low end torque enables 4 cyl cruising with the auto, while the 7 speed provides a 3rd overdrive with better aero to boot!

    JuniperBug explained very well why Mazda does not have the ability to pull higher overdrive ratios. The LT1 makes around two and a half times as much torque in 4 cyl mode at 1500 RPM as the Miata can reach at its torque peak! Of course, it is a 3.1L 4!

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    So, $50,000 gets you north of 450 HP. 0 to 60 in the very low 4′s (you need a $56K version with some options to get to 3.8 seconds 0 to 60), and if you drive it gently 17/29. Of what I’ve heard from Corvette owners – if you don’t drive it like a moron, it is easy to achieve sticker MPG and exceed. Oh, and the interior this time around is supposed to have more charm than a Coleman cooler, and not have a steering wheel shared with the Chevy Malibu (I’ll reserve judgement).

    This is a freakin’ Hell of a bargain, also considering how serviceable the LS engines are, and how many parts are available for DIY, track, etc. etc. etc. etc.

    No wild predictions of GM selling thousands upon thousands of Vettes – it’s not that kind of car. But the C7 – as the information is rolling out – is looking to be one Hell of a bargain.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      just needs a back seat for the dog. That’s why I got rid of the Vette and picked a GTO to twin-turbo charged to 700 hp for an extra $5,500. Fluffy doesn’t like the extra upmh much though.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Vette has always been a performance bargain… even with the tupperware interior.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        For track days we used to get a set of rotors from NAPA for $49.00.

        The 2000 C5 was very cheap by today’s standards but was developed in the 1990′s. And noisy too! Want a kit car comparison check out a Viper of same vintage.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    That’s nice, but who buys a Corvette for its MPGz? How about running in around a track or something?

    But a triple overdrive? I don’t see the point of only 4 pulling gears and such great MPG. Who needs it? Of course I’d be swapping out the ring & pinion gears, but what are they now? And what are the factory choices? If any.

    • 0 avatar
      CelticPete

      I like all those overdrive gears – gets better EPA scores – avoids gas guzzler tax. And you can just stick with 2nd for around town – and third and fourth for when you need to go faster but are not on the highway.. (Probably only 3rd haha).

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Great idea for a high efficiency Malibu or Silverado perhaps, but 3 overdrives leave a lot of performance on the table.

        My guess is they’re shipping the Corvette ‘detuned’ and a quick gear swap will unleash more power if you want it. Muscle and V8 pony cars were sold that way for decades. Especially ’70s and ’80s.

        Essentially, overdrive becomes direct drive.

        • 0 avatar
          CelticPete

          The problem with a close ranged ratio is to really get the performance out of it you have to shift all the time. With a seven speed trans – you can just use four gears on the track..

          I don’t think its nearly the problem you think it is. You are leaving SOME performance on the table – not a lot.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            You want the perfect ratio for each corner exit. A wide ratio leaves you bogging or quickly dipping into 2nd, for example, before leaving it in 3rd. And that gets annoying too, around town, slow and go.

            I don’t mind shifting, but I hate constant hunting, just putting around.

          • 0 avatar
            niky

            On a full sized racetrack, you will never be going slow enough to dip into first gear. And once in the lower-gears, with a big horsepower motor, you’re traction limited… so having extra gears there won’t help much. No matter where you are in the rpm band, you will still have more than enough power for the corner you’re exiting.

            Note here:
            https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn1/734127_10151230242263990_2016776709_n.jpg

            First gear hits 60 mph, which looks tall, but let me tell you, that’s great for drag racing, especailly with this much power. 2nd gear puts you at 4k at 60 mph, which is good enough for most turns you will find. If you’re going slower, say in a 40 mph hairpin, the last thing you need is a lot of power and wheelspin. You want to be able to accelerate out without getting sideways.

            The only thing I don’t like is the long throw from 5th to 6th, but then, you’re not going to get out of 5th gear on the racetrack.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            At the track, around town and on the blvd, it’s just a 5-speed. Which is OK for a 5-speed car, but I want to use all 7 gears, all the time, when they’re sitting right there. And HWY MPG would still be decent.

            So when you get back on the gas at 25 MPH in 2nd, you’re at 2,000 RPM. Around town and putting around, that’s OK, but in full race mode, you’re far from peak HP and Tq.

            I’d like 30 MPG, but in a Corvette, I want to maximize performance, not economy. And 7th, you can’t even use until you’re doing 75 MPH.

          • 0 avatar
            niky

            Then downshift. It’s at 3k rpm in first gear.

            The box, from the chart, is tight enough so that it doesn’t really matter. And as first gear is as long as most second gears, yet with enough torque to require torque management in lower gears, then you’ve got the equivalent of an eight-speed box in a car with less power.

            Again… not bothered. First gear in other cars is useless on track, whereas the Corvette’s first gear has more reach than second gear on many other cars.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            What’s the max speed you can downshift to 1st? 3.73s or 4.10s would make it better all around and a more rewarding drive. And faster too. 3.42s seem to be an afterthought and was likely designed around steeper gears. But what’s the big deal? I’ve changed out the factory gears in every sports, muscle car and truck I’ve owned because there’s always a huge improvement for a small penalty at the pump.

          • 0 avatar
            niky

            Since it’s geared for well over 60 mph, you can drop into first gear anywhere below the speed limit. Just remember to rev-match, otherwise, it won’t be pretty.

            While a shorter gearbox would definitely make for punchier performance, whether you need it or not will depend on how much grip you have. Without enough drive traction, shorter gearing would be wasted.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      My C5 would see over 20 track days a year. But wasn’t really worried about fuel economy then.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    I can’t wait to see what type of numbers the Z06 and ZR1 throw down.

    i know Big Truck likes the Viper and Chrysler products in general but the higher performing vettes will show the snake their tail lights.

    Of course, this is all opinion. The higher spec vettes haven’t be released yet but me thinks Mr. Gilles and the rest of the guys and gals at SRT are a bit anxious.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    Very nice car..
    It’s clear the Europeans and the Japanese fooled a lot of people with the “DOHC” is more modern load of crap.. Pushrod engine are better for American drivers with automatics – seriously.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      DOHCs do make more power, but I’d like to see an all aluminum, high output GM 8.1 pushrod. The new 6.2 is about max’d out, without adding boost.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        Bah. I’d like to see a 7.0 Liter version of the now departed Boss Mustang’s engine. All that low and mid-lift flow converted into horsepower would be glorious.

  • avatar
    Freddie

    Why do we allow the auto companies to keep us fixated on the EPA highway number? It’s meaningless. The EPA highway cycle is not “freeway” driving, it’s an average of 48 mph, never exceeding 60. Any car will register decent MPG for a leisurely drive down an empty country lane with no stop signs or traffic lights.
    The city number is closer to reality for the vast majority of drivers.

    • 0 avatar
      CelticPete

      It’s more of a problem for hybrids then sporty cars. Sports car with their aerodynamics and lightweight will often achieve very good gas mileage at speeds 65, 75 and 85..

      A Prius OTOH tends to suck up in the speed range – hence they drive at the speed limit or below it a lot of the time.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Not surprised in the least… my brother managed 30 MPG highway in his ‘Vette (C5 auto). I get nearly 26 MPG from my 350Z and have seen 28s on pure highway runs (cruise on A/C off). Once again we are talking HIGHWAY mileage here! Put the thing in top gear and cruise steady at 65-70 mph. Powerful engine + light vehicle + aerodynamic wedge shape = very easy on gas at speed.

    I think its mostly an aero issue since my V8 Dodge truck gets the same mileage city or highway when TOWING (13 for those keeping score). At speed (65 mph is plenty) the drag from the boat behind me acts as parachute. You can physically FEEL the difference driving into even a mild head wind. Lift off the throttle and it will scrub 15 mph easy (IE: air brakes). Where as in the city lifting off the throttle does almost nothing since the lumbering mass from the boat behind keeps pushing me forward (IE: momentum). Its simple physics people.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    I like the idea of 3 overdrive gears. You don’t NEED to use 7th, or 6th gear, but they’re there if you need/want to use them. My Sonic 1.4T 6 -speed has 3 overdrive gears. If you make it to 6th, you’re NOT looking for another gear, unlike most other small cars.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    The new C7 Corvette done right? – - – -
    http://www.autoblog.com/2013/07/16/sin-r1-is-a-corvette-v8-in-a-german-wrapper/

    Wonder how well this puppy corners?

    ————————


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