2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Even I'd Get the Manual
September 19, 2011
I'm the guy who ALWAYS wants the dual-clutch automatic (or, more correctly, the dual-clutch automated manual, but that's a taxonomy argument for another day) instead of the manual.
Done right they're faster, smoother, more precise, less prone to human error, easier / lazier in traffic and, when driving hard, free your brain up for more vital tasks like steering, accelerating and braking.
Unfortunately, this one just isn't done right. And I don't simply mean because of the lack of paddles and the wrong-way orientation of the shifter's manual mode, or the not-very-sporty S mode.
Takahashi nailed the sluggish acceleration part with a flowchart here, and the awkward braking part with a graph here (he likes pretty pictures), but the real sticking point is that the clutch, at least on the '10 TDI Cup I drove, is light and easy enough to not bother my bum knee even in the heaviest traffic. Oh, and it saves $1,100 bucks while returning the same fuel economy.
If you drive it casually between 20 and 50 mph, the DSG is a fine transmission, but my commute involves stops and hard acceleration above 40. I want more control and more smoothness than this and the manual provides just that.
Mike Magrath, Features Editor @ 11,200 miles