Stupid Wheel Paddles - 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Long-Term Road Test

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Long-Term Road Test

2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray: Stupid Wheel Paddles

November 15, 2013

2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray

Conventional wisdom says that cars with manual transmissions shouldn't have shift paddles on the steering wheel. Our 2014 Corvette does and they're dumb.

In the most obvious and annoying display of cost-cutting on an otherwise impressive interior, Chevy has decided to offer one steering wheel for both the manual and automatic-equipped 2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray.

At first blush, this isn't a big problem. The wheel doesn't care which transmission you've got, right? Then comes the realization that the automatic-equipped car comes with shift paddles and thus, so does the one with a manual.

Now, of course these paddles don't shift the transmission on the C7. Instead, they turn on/off the Corvette's automatic rev-matching system. (I'll leave the actual functioning of that system for a later date. Short story: It's ok.) Click the paddle to turn it on and the gear indicator turns from white to yellow. Click the paddle to turn it off and the number goes back to white.

From a functionality standpoint, it's simple and effective. The paddles are a nice, heavyweight plastic that doesn't pretend to be metal and they're big enough to use without looking. The downsides win out, though.

2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray

First, they're slightly in the way. There's not a lot of room to grip the wheel in the 9-and-3 position if you've got fat fingers.

Second, they're slightly confusing. If you've spent any time in a car with paddle shifters, you'll come up on the Corvette's redline quick, feel the paddle somewhere near your pinky and instinctively try to tap it. This can be curbed by holding the shifter at all times, but then you're that guy.

Finally, it's cheap. Chevy killed it on the interior of the new Corvette. It's a great place to spend time. But they dropped the ball here in a big way. It's not one of those things you only come across once in a while, it's one of those things you see every. single. day. One of those things that reminds you that the Corvette is built to a price. One of the things that Porsche would never do (even if they do charge you $490 for one with paddles and $615 for one with stereo controls).

Mike Magrath, Features Editor @ 2,247 miles


  • insideliner insideliner Posts:

    How the hell is that cost cutting? Conventional wisdom would dictate a steering with would paddles cost more than those without. Even with economies of scale, I'm sure the deal they got for just going with a paddle wheel wouldn't negate the cost of making those without. There would be mostly likely just be a cover on that spot where the paddles'wiring would be, not really a factor that would increase cost don't you think?

  • greg128 greg128 Posts:

    I googled images of Porsche paddle shifters and I really don't see much difference. They do look a bit smaller but other than that they look pretty similar. I hope this isn't a case of GM nitpicking. My wife's car has GM paddle shifters and when I drive the car I never even notice they are there.

  • dloop dloop Posts:

    Do you realize how silly you sound? Word of advice: if you really like the 911 that much, drop your hard earned 125 - 150k on it. Porsche will gladly provide you with one. You will end-up with a fantastic (overpriced) car. But complaining about the paddles on the Vette? Complaining that you don't want to keep your hand on the gear shift knob during hard acceleration? These comments seem to reveal you as a (drum roll please, and crank up the reverb and echo) CAR SNOB! The thing about car snobs is that rarely can they afford the cars they admire. If they could they would understand that they are great cars, but there are other great cars as well. As a 911 owner I can attest that they are great cars, and I will also say that the new model is phenomenal. Having said that, I drove a new C7 last weak and it is also phenomenal! Last rant for you and the other snobs. Because one car is phenomenal doesn't mean that the other car cannot be phenomenal as well. So enough of the internet Vette vs 911 BS. They are both great. If you have the money, buy one of each!

  • It is cost cutting - they would have to produce two different steering wheels if they didn't want the paddles. Even though there is less material (which costs very little BTW), there is the added cost of producing extra parts for the manufacturer.

  • legacygt legacygt Posts:

    This gripe is legit. While paddle shifters aren't universal yet and many have not driven cars with them, a lot of people have and it's reasonable to expect them to shift an auto up/down. Trying to save money is one thing but confusing drivers is another. I'd rather they rip them out. They're not in a conspicuous spot. You wouldn't even need blanks to cover the holes. Just leave them out and put another dedicated button somewhere to engage rev matching.

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    I have never had a moment where I forgot what kind of transmission the car I was driving had and reached for a paddle instead of the shifter.

  • wheelmccoy_ wheelmccoy_ Posts:

    According to the Stingray's chief Engineer Tadge Juechter, the purpose for these paddles is to be able to quickly enable or disable them, letting you play and compare your rev matching abilities to the computer's. See around 6:10:

  • noburgers noburgers Posts:

    I don't think it would bother me one bit. I would set it once then ignore it forever on. I can't imagine forgetting that I was driving the car with the manual, unless I had two Corvettes. Even then, not too hard. (That would be a nice problem!)

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    This bugs me strictly because it's the freaking steering wheel, the one part of the car you're guaranteed to touch on every drive. I don't know if I buy the cost cutting argument, but for sure I want them out of there when I buy the manual.

  • goaterguy goaterguy Posts:

    I would have to agree on the "why?" It would make more sense to have the rev match as a setting controlled by the knob in the center console and have a cleaner wheel area. I know I would leave it permanently on and save the transmission synchros. I would presume Chevy just thought that the majority of the sales were going to have an automatic tranny and decide it was cheaper to produce one wheel cowl with the pads for both transmissions.

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