2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI: Why Can't I Enjoy the Convenience of the DSG?
February 24, 2015
There is almost nothing I don't like about seeing our long-term 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI in my driveway. My husband and I spent a couple of years with an MkVI VW GTI (base-model 2011, United Gray Metallic, three-pedal setup), and we were sad to part ways with it. With all the improvements on the seventh-generation car, there's no reason to think I wouldn't like it even more.
Of course, soon after getting behind the wheel of our long-term GTI for the first time, I got right into a pocket of stop-and-go traffic. As Chris wrote, the car's six-speed, dual-clutch automated manual transmission (the DSG) can be bothersome in these situations when left in D.
Switching to S mode is a reasonable solution, but then when traffic picks up again, you've got to switch back to D because S locks out overdrive and has the engine revving needlessly at a 65-mph cruise. I could shift it manually, but if this is the "automatic-transmission" GTI, why should I have to?
I guess what I really want is another automatic-type shift mode, something like Sport lite that would provide the hastened responses in slow traffic but still go into 6th gear without input from me. Basically, I want a mode that would more closely mirror my own shift points in a GTI with a conventional manual transmission.
As usual, I'm overthinking it. I should just get the three-pedal version like Monticello said and let others just enjoy the convenience of the DSG. And I do understand that it's a convenience. For my father, it borders on a personal luxury, as he bought his DSG-equipped GTI (another MkVI) after 20 years in a 1992 Civic VX hatch. Near as I could tell, power brakes were the only convenience that little car had.
The DSG (and other automated manual transmissions) is just a different way of engaging with a car. I think I would be more excited about it if I hadn't grown up around manual transmissions or wasn't as interested in doing my own shifting. If you consider the rapidity and smoothness of its gear changes when you're moving along at a brisk pace, it really is impressive and the compromises I mentioned seem small.
In the GTI, it's also a matter of perception. In my mind, this will always be a hot hatch for the young at heart, and I associate that youthfulness with a love of clutch pedals (which is maybe a bit ridiculous in 2015). I find myself much more accepting of VW's automated manual transmission and its idiosyncrasies in our Audi A3 just because it's a sedan.
Erin Riches, Deputy Editor @ 6,529 miles