2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI: Another Use for S Mode
January 29, 2015
Our 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI is equipped with the DSG dual-clutch automated-manual transmission. While it's not as clever as Porsche's similar PDK transmission (still the benchmark), VW's DSG does a very good job with smooth, nearly seamless shifts in typical driving and rapid shifts when things get going. The one scenario where it exhibits some less-than-optimal behavior is bumper-to-bumper traffic. When in Drive, the car sometimes starts from a standstill in second gear, often short-shifts (to the next, higher gear) at a very low rpm just as I go to the brake and once there and is loath to downshift when I squeeze either the brake or the throttle.
Luckily, there's a Sport mode which works wonders. As its label indicates, it's meant to make the transmission more responsive to aggressive driving, but the benefit here is that it holds gears longer than it would otherwise, eliminating all those short shifts, and as a result, it also provides far more engine braking when I removed my foot from the throttle.
Yes, I know I could simply shift the GTI manually (and I often do), but two hours is a long time in traffic and if the car can sort it out for me, I'll let it be.
Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor