Volume II, Issue 3, Page 3

When the Atomic Orange C6 convertible arrived, we were more than anxious to flop the top and flail the pedals. But what’s that? It’s an automatic! All of a sudden the fun factor seemed to shrivel up like a spider on a hot griddle.

But we put our chauvinism aside and were in for a very pleasant surprise. Tell you right now, this thing was more fun to drive than any stick shift, and we’re stick-shift junkies. In short, it’s nothing less than a bellwether transition for the performance generation. By ’08, GM plans to have put nearly a million of them on the road, so it’s likely that one might eventually end up in your hot rod.

In the Corvette, the transmission is mounted at the rear of the car, but in the supercharged ’06-‘07 Cadillac STS-V sedan (the only GM car so-equipped at this writing) it mates directly to the engine. It’s a Hydra-Matic unit called the 6L80. Trucks powered by the 6.2L L92 engine get the 6L80, too, but Heavy Duty models are privy to the beefier 6L90 behind the 6.0L. In this report, however, we’ll focus on the former.

The “old” 4L60, 4L65, and 4L70 offers 3.06, 1.63, 1.00, and 0.70:1 ratios; already in its sophomore year, the 6L80/90 has ratios of 4.02, 2.36, 1.53, 1.15, 0.85, and 0.67:1. As example, when pared with the Corvette’s standard 2.56:1 axle ratio it poses a very loooong-legged 1.72:1 final drive.

Jeff Baran, chief project engineer, remarked: “We used knowledge and experience from the entire GM Powertrain network to engineer this transmission. It is a modular design to facilitate a broad application and it enables an easy plug-and-play approach. The transmission architecture was designed to satisfy a large matrix of attributes for current and future vehicle programs. It’s the first GM transmission ever designed in this way.”

C6 angle of attack! Since the thumb-on-paddle is a sometimes awkward, the paddle can be easily pushed forward or pulled back by fingers wrapped around the steering wheel.