By on March 24, 2020

2001 Volkswagen GTI GLX VR6 in Denver junkyard, manual gearshift - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

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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16 Comments on “Volkswagen to Sticks: Never Gonna Give U Up...”

  • avatar

    I hope they bring a stronger clutch this time. GTI clutch on a R isn’t working that great.

  • avatar

    I officially voted in 2018 with my three-pedal GTI. Not sorry I did.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    “so long as there is a demand, we will continue to offer them.”

    How does this perpsective differ from any other manufacturer for any option?

  • avatar
    R Henry

    “so long as there is a demand, we will continue to offer them.”

    How does this perspective differ from any other manufacturer for any option?

  • avatar

    If you want one, but the dealers won’t order/stock them, kinda makes it difficult to get one!

  • avatar

    I will take my 2021 GTI with a 6 speed manual, thank you. Just like my 2011, 2015, and current 2018.

  • avatar

    Most fail to grasp the simple concept that they make what sells and ever since the introduction of the slush box, manual tranny sales have dropped .

    Chrysler tried their very good ‘gryro matic’ semi automatic, VW and Porsche with the Saxomats, Rentault with the ‘Ferlic’ electric clutch, on and on ~ no matter how well they worked, all fell by wayside because not enough bought them to be profitable .

    I too think it’s nice to have the choice but the primary business of business, is _business_ not pleasing anyone else .


  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Is that a MKiv GTI in the pic?

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      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 .


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