Chevrolet may be onto something here

Every time an automaker launches a really expensive supercar we expect it to come with a range of extraordinary or industry-first features. Not so much when we’re dealing with more affordable sports cars, but the 2020 Chevrolet C8 Corvette is an exception from this rule thanks to boasting cylinder deactivation technology combined with a dual-clutch transmission.

Familiar Systems in a unique Combination

Chevrolet is the first automaker to combined these technologies in the same car

Granted, none of these systems are new. Cylinder deactivation is a technology that dates back to the 1980s, when both General Motors and Alfa Romeo experimented with this setup. It became mainstream in the early 2000s and you can find it now in a wide range of vehicles from carmakers like Mercedes-Benz, Honda, General Motors, Ford, and Volkswagen. GM’s cylinder deactivation technology goes back to 2005 and was improved in 2018. The C7-generation Corvette also features cylinder deactivation on its 6.2-liter V-8 engine.

The same goes for the dual-clutch transmission. This design that features two separate clutches for odd and even gear sets was first introduced in 2003 in the Volkswagen Golf Mk4 R32. The DCT debuted much earlier in the racing scene, with both Porsche and Audi having used it as early as the 1980s. Come 2019 and most major automakers offer dual-clutch transmissions in their cars. The list of DCT suppliers is quite long as well and includes BorgWarner, Getrag, Graziano, and ZF.

The 2020 Chevy C8 Corvette Mixes Two Technologies No Other Car in the Segment Has
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The dual-clutch gearbox loosens its grip during cylinder deactivation to allow a few tens of rpm slippage

While both technologies are spread individually across a wide range of brand and vehicles, Chevrolet is the first automaker to combined them in the same car. Why is this a big deal? Well, shutting off half the cylinders in a big engine causes vibration that’s usually absorbed or masked by the torque converter. This type of fluid coupling is found in automatic transmissions, while dual-clutch units eliminate it completely. This means that masking the vibrations is much more difficult with a DCT.

But GM fixed this by enabling the dual-clutch gearbox to loosen its grip during cylinder deactivation and allow a few tens of rpm slippage. This system is supposed to mask the vibrations caused by the transition between the engine’s model. As of this writing we have no proof that the C8 Corvette won’t send vibrations into the cabin while shutting off four cylinder, but I’m assuming Chevy is satisfied with how this slippage method works since it greenlighted the cylinder deactivation and dual-clutch layout.

Cylinder deactivation improves fuel economy

The 2020 Chevy C8 Corvette Mixes Two Technologies No Other Car in the Segment Has
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Chevy calls its cylinder deactivation system Active Fuel Management. That’s because the system’s main purpose is to improve fuel economy. When all cylinders are active, the 6.2-liter V-8 fires up in 1-8-7-2-6-5-4-3 order. When Active Fuel Management is activated, the second, fourth, sixth, and eighth cylinders go off-line, turning the V-8 into a V-4. When this happens, firing order becomes 1-7-6-4. Chevy has yet to release mpg figures, but the C8 Corvette should return an extra couple of mpgs compared to the outgoing C7 model.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray drivetrain specifications
Type: LT2 6.2L V8 VVT with direct injection and Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation)
Bore & stroke (in / mm): 4.06 x 3.62 / 103.25 x 92
Block Material: A319-T7 cast aluminum with cast-in iron cylinder liners and nodular main bearing caps
Oiling System: Dry sump-type (7.5-qt. capacity); includes oil-spray piston cooling
Oil Type: Dexos 2 0W40 synthetic
Cylinder Head Material: 319-T7 cast aluminum
Combustion Chamber volume: 59cc
Compression Ratio: 11.5:1
Valvetrain: Overhead valve, two valves per cylinder; dual-equal variable valve timing.
Valve Size (in / mm): 2.13 / 54 hollow (intake) & 1.59 / 40.4 sodium filled (exhaust)
Fuel Delivery: Direct injection with Active Fuel Management: Max pressure: 2,175 psi (15 Mpa / 150 bar)
Firing Order: 1-8-7-2-6-5-4-3 (all cylinders); 1-7-6-4 (with deactivation)
Throttle body: 87mm single bore (electronic)
ECU: GM E99 (32-bit processing)
Horsepower (hp / kW @ rpm): SAE-certified to 495 / 369 @ 6450 rpm (with performance exhaust)
Torque (lb.-ft./ Nm @ rpm): SAE-certified to 470 / 637 @ 5150 rpm (with performance exhaust)

Further reading

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The 9 Mid-Engine Corvette Concepts That Didn't Make it To Production
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The 9 concepts that led to the mid-engined Chevrolet Corvette C8

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