2018 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Kills the Manual Transmission

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
2018 volkswagen jetta gli kills the manual transmission

For the 2018 model year, Volkswagen of America is adopting an entirely different approach to its sports sedan transmission lineup than Honda and Subaru.

Unlike the Honda Civic Si, which is available exclusively with a manual transmission, and unlike the Subaru WRX, which is available with a manual transmission or a continuously variable automatic, the 2018 Volkswagen Jetta GLI will drop the manual transmission option.

CarsDirect cites the lower-than-GTI manual take rate of only 30 percent as reason for excluding the three-pedal layout. Of course, many cars continue to offer manual shifters despite even lower take rates. The 2018 Kia Rio, Car And Driver reports, will only generate 5 percent of its volume with a manual transmission. That’s on par with industry average. Only 3 percent of Jaguar F-Types are sold with a manual transmission. Only 23 percent of Chevrolet Corvette buyers opt for a manual.

30 percent?

That’s a downright impressive share for manual transmissions.

The real cause of the Jetta GLI’s solo transmission act for 2018 — the six-speed DSG persists — is the tidying up of Jetta variants in the sixth-generation’s (likely) final model year. Volkswagen eliminated the Jetta Hybrid prior to the 2017 model year. The TDI diesel engine was obviously removed by wrongdoing. The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta GLI will come in one iteration with no options, priced at $30,395. That’s up $580 compared with the 2017 Jetta GLI DSG. It’s also $1,680 more costly than the basic 2017 Jetta GLI.

More importantly, the 2018 Volkswagen Jetta GLI costs $2,880 more than the least costly 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI DSG, which is the superior sporting car. Volkswagen of America hasn’t released 2018 specifications for the Golf GTI but has confirmed manual availability.

Volkswagen doesn’t release model breakdowns for the Jetta lineup, but based on inventory, the GLI accounts for roughly 14 percent of total Jetta sales. That would work out to around 1,400 monthly U.S. Jetta GLI sales. Volkswagen of America has averaged 1,868 monthly Golf GTI sales in 2017’s first three-quarters.

[Images: Volkswagen]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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  • 6250Claimer 6250Claimer on Oct 13, 2017

    Where's the new MQB-based replacement? I read a while back from multiple sources that it was coming to the US by the end of this year. Now they're gonna stick with this ancient platform for yet another year? Jeez, the Golf has been on MQB since 2014 in Europe, 2015 here. VW needs to quit being this way, it's been going on forever. 30% take rate is VERY high, so it seems silly to discontinue the manual. For all the exec shuffling that's been done over the last decade, they still manage to find guys to make head-scratcher decisions on stuff like this. So out of touch with their customers.

    • Krhodes1 Krhodes1 on Oct 13, 2017

      VW of NA, shooting themselves in the foot since 1979.

  • Reoff Reoff on Oct 17, 2017

    I bought a 2017 GLI Manual a little over a month ago. I don't think it is a third world car or an embarrassment. I didn't buy it because I have a terrible credit score or because I couldn't afford something else. I also don't think a car has to be on a brand new platform to be worth owning. A good car is made up of more than just enthusiast level driving dynamics. I didn't want to pay a premium for a Golf GTI. They are lovely cars, but I want a sedan and rear leg room. I am more concerned about the fact that the GLI is great to drive every day. I'm not going to carve up the mountain roads of the midwest because there aren't any. The Jetta handles great and I like the understated styling much more than that of the swooping asian competitors. I also like the feel of the car. Fuel economy is better than I expected it to be and the price I paid for the car was very attractive. Mine was $24,500. I really didn't find anythign else I could get in a manual that competed with this car. Needless to say, I'm very happy with my Jetta.

  • Jim Bonham Thanks.
  • Luke42 I just bought a 3-row Tesla Model Y.If Toyota made a similar vehicle, I would have bought that instead. I'm former Prius owner, and would have bought a Prius-like EV if it were available.Toyota hasn't tried to compete with the Model Y. GM made the Bolt EUV, and Ford made the Mach-E. Tesla beat them all fair and square, but Toyota didn't even try.[Shrug]
  • RHD Toyota is trying to hedge their bets, and have something for everyone. They also may be farther behind in developing electric vehicles than they care to admit. Japanese corporations sometimes come up with cutting-edge products, such as the Sony Walkman. Large corporations (and not just Japanese corporations) tend to be like GM, though - too many voices just don't get heard, to the long-term detriment of the entity.
  • Randy in rocklin The Japanese can be so smart and yet so dumb. I'm America-Japanese and they really can be dumb sometimes like their masking paranoia.
  • Bunkie The Flying Flea has a fascinating story and served, inadvertently, to broaden the understanding of aircraft design. The crash described in the article is only part of the tale.
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