Volkswagen to Sticks: Never Gonna Give U Up

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
volkswagen to sticks never gonna give u up

As dry cleaning tycoon George Jefferson once said, “In politics, lies are called promises.” Automotive purists surely hope that lesson doesn’t apply to Volkswagen’s pledge to hang on to manual transmissions for dear life.

While the automaker says it has no inherent desire to go the two-pedal-only route, it makes clear that the ball is entirely in the customer’s court.

Speaking to Autocar, Volkswagen tech boss Matthias Rabe said, “Some people enjoy going back to their roots and changing gear manually, and so long as there is a demand, we will continue to offer them.”

What a nice thing to say. Rabe’s comments came in the wake of the European debut of the next-generation Golf GTI, which carries a standard sic-speed manual and turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is optional, though VW’s recipe for America remains to be seen.

It’s expected that the still-popular GTI and Golf R will arrive here, minus the base hatch that, while well put together, has fallen out of favor with the U.S. new car buyer. Buyers of lesser means can still get a six-speed stick in the base Jetta, which happens to be an increasing rarity in the low-end car market.

Whereas once a buyer could get into any number of row-your-own compacts and subcompacts, the pairing is increasingly falling out of favor. Blame a rock-bottom take rates on this side of the pond and an industry-wide trend of offering fewer build configurations. Look to the 2020 Nissan Sentra for evidence of this.

How long will VW’s pledge hold up? It’s up to you… and perhaps to VW, too, as the German giant sure likes electric powertrains. One thing you don’t see in an EV is a clutch pedal.

[Image: Murilee Martin/TTAC]

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3 of 16 comments
  • Gtem Gtem on Mar 25, 2020

    I was able to test drive a new manual Golf Alltrack at the local VW place, jumped at the opportunity actually. But between that and trying out a manual '18 Mazda3 hatch with the 2.5, I've come to the realization that a manual is not a magic pill that makes new cars truly fun and engaging to drive. Everything has dead steering, super-isolated everything. Bleh.

  • Piratethecat Piratethecat on Mar 26, 2020

    Does the GTI still have the issue where it stalls randomly? I was looking at those last year but it was enough to dissuade me from VW when I was already leery of their "issues" to start with. Love the idea of a GTI as a daily but don't love the idea of a VW long-term.

    • -Nate -Nate on Mar 27, 2020

      As a VW / Porsche / Mercedes Mechanic of 50 years I highly suggest you DO NOT buy any German cars unless you're an enthusiast who likes doing your own repairs . It pains me to say this but facts are facts . -Nate

  • Jeff S I ignore the commercials. Never owned a Mazda but I would definitely look at one and seriously consider it. I would take a Honda, Toyota, or Mazda over any German vehicle at least they are long lasting, reliable, and don't cost an arm and a leg to maintain.
  • GregLocock The predictable hysteria and repetition of talking points in the meeja is quite funny. it does not divide Oxford into six zones. it restricts access at 6 locations , one on each road, to reduce congestion in the town centre. Florence, which faces the same issue, traffic and narrow historic streets, lined with historic buildings, simply closed the entire town centre off. Don't see anybody whining about that.
  • Jeff S I have rented from Hertz before and never encountered this but if I had I would sue them. Would not want a gun pointed at me and thrown in jail for renting a car.
  • Arthur Dailey I did use a service pre COVID to get the pricing that the dealers were alleged to have paid the manufacturer. It also provided 'quotes' from multiple dealers .
  • Arthur Dailey Has anyone else concluded that we may have a new 'troll' on this site?