2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI: Manual or DSG?
February 25, 2015
While I think it is certainly a good idea that the 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI offers an automatic transmission option, there is absolutely no way I would ever consider getting it. Although VW's DSG dual-clutch automated manual is a good, reasonably sporty automatic, it is still an automatic. With it, our long-term GTI just feels like a slightly faster Golf with a significantly worse ride.
At least in "normal" driving. Perhaps if I lived at the top of a mountain and would appreciate the lightning-fast shifts and lessened attention required to change gears (therefore allowing for greater attention put toward not steering off a cliff), DSG would pair with the GTI's sharper handling to provide a daily, get-the-blood-pumping drive. I just recently had that sort of drive in a PDK-equipped Porsche Boxster, which proved there are instances where an automatic is the way to go.
For the GTI, however, I remain firmly in the camp of the traditional, six-speed manual as equipped in a short-term GTI test car I drove recently. When driven as most people do around town or on the highway, it provides that extra, ample dollop of constant engagement that the GTI needs to warrant buying one over a regular old Golf (which has a 170-horsepower peach of a turbocharged engine, by the way). Plus, it is just about the easiest manual transmission to drive on the planet. Yes, even in traffic. Clutch effort and engagement is spot on, if a bit long in travel, and the shifter glides through its gates with ease. If anything, it errs on side of daily driving rather than performance.
In other words, the manual-equipped GTI made me utterly uninterested in our long-termer. Well, that and the plaid seats. There's absolutely no way I'd get our long termer's plain-old black leather, but that's another blog.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor