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2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI: Manual or DSG? Long-Term Road Test

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 10,315
edited February 2015 in Volkswagen
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.

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  • boffboff Member Posts: 91
    I'm with you on both counts.
  • henry4hirehenry4hire Member Posts: 106
  • ebeaudoinebeaudoin Member Posts: 509
  • darthbimmerdarthbimmer Member Posts: 606
    Years ago it was easy to understand a manual transmission as the sporty driver's choice. Manuals routinely turned in noticeably faster acceleration times than common, "slushbox" automatic transmissions. But today's automatics utilizing dual-clutch technology actually have the performance edge over manuals. So why do manuals still appeal to enthusiast drivers? It's the added control but I think, even more importantly, the engagement. Drive an automatic fast and you're basically commuting, fast. Shift your own gears and suddenly that drive to the office or the store feels like you're qualifying.
  • 7driver7driver Member Posts: 145
    A manual GTI represents an $1100 savings over an automatic in addition to a possibly cheaper maintenance bill. That alone would be enough for me to choose against the DSG.
  • legacygtlegacygt Member Posts: 599
    I've only sampled the DSG in the last generation A3 and I really didn't like it. I guess it shifted fast. So what? It provides none of the engagement of a manual and none of the smoothness of an automatic. It's particularly annoying at low speeds/gears. It feels like you're in a car with someone just learning to drive manual.
  • s197gts197gt Member Posts: 486
    doesn't the manual call for the dsg to be serviced every 40k miles at a cost of around $400+ (dealer price)?
  • opfreakopfreak Member Posts: 106
  • dgcamerodgcamero Member Posts: 148
    s197gt said:

    doesn't the manual call for the dsg to be serviced every 40k miles at a cost of around $400+ (dealer price)?

    My first DSG service at the dealer in 2010 was $320, my second DSG service in 2012 was $230...now you can buy an OEM filter and fluid that has VWAG's DSG fluid specification approval (Liqui-Moly) for about $100...the special tool is another $45...just need either VAG-Com access or an infrared thermometer to properly not overfill the unit. I'm guessing it should be around $200-250 out the door at any dealer by now...and if not, bringing your own fluid and filter and paying the labor should have you in that range. Not cheap, but not ludicrously expensive like it used to be.
  • nedmundonedmundo Member Posts: 33
    I agree. I have a 2010 TSX with 6MT, and recently tested a TLX with the 2.4/8DCT drivetrain. That 8DCT is great, with lightning quick shifts, so I completely understand the appeal. But the engagement just isn't there, so IMO it's no substitute for a great MT.
  • desmoliciousdesmolicious Member Posts: 671
    The golf ball shifter knob and plaid seats are the best Jerry, the best.
  • fordson1fordson1 Unconfirmed Posts: 1,512
    "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."

    I would say a significantly faster Golf with a slightly worse ride.
  • ez2beez2be Member Posts: 8
    I just placed an order for a GTI Autobahn with all the options (PP, DCC, DAP, LP). The only thing I didn't order was the DSG. It was a really tough choice as I was still confused after taking both cars for an overnight test drive. I commute everyday in bumper to bumper traffic so the DSG had some appeal. The fact that VW’s pedal placement in the manual makes heel and toe downshifting virtually impossible was a strike against it and the exhaust note in the DSG is more sporting (at least in the non-PP versions I drove). But the DSG has its problems too. As others have stated, it shifts up too quickly when driven in D mode and holds gears too long in S mode. S mode works well if you’re driving aggressively but there isn't a happy compromise if you’re not, although you can override it with a manual paddle shift. The DSG has its benefits but doesn't provide the same tactile feedback or sense of involvement. It adds needless costs and complexity which adds to my still lurking concerns about VW reliability. In the end it comes down to who you are as a driver and what you’re used to. I’m 56 and every car I've ever owned has been a manual. So I’ll continue to use two feet when driving in traffic. I've done it all my life; it’s really not that big of a deal.
  • joemama127joemama127 Member Posts: 5
    "our long-term GTI just feels like a slightly faster Golf with a significantly worse ride."
    This is the second time I've seen a Edmunds writer post about this, yet none of the other reviews I've read/youtube videos watched say the same thing. I've seen either praise for the ride quality, or surprise that large wheels and low profile tires don't produce harshness like some other cars. Is it really that bad? Maybe the roads around the Edmunds complex are especially bad..
  • noxidleinahtannoxidleinahtan Member Posts: 1
    My GTI (2015/Performance/Manual/DCC) has anything but a harsh ride. I thought I would end up switching the suspension back into "Normal" or "Comfort" mode for daily driving, but the "Sport" mode is comfortable enough that I don't have to.
  • evadslayerevadslayer Member Posts: 3
    edited May 2015
    Today's drivers like to be totally dis-engaged from actual driving. Yack on the phone, dress, read, watch TV, groom, eat, tap on the PC, anything to avoid paying attention. We have an entire new generation of drivers who have the attention span of a gnat. It is no wonder they turn up their noses at (God forbid!) shifting. What they do not understand is that some 20 year old at GM or Toyota or Honda has determined when and how their "automatic" will shift. The driver will never know that a manual lets the person determine when to shift, thus matching torque and horsepower to road and traffic conditions.
    Right or wrong, I learned on an Austin Healy Sprite, then an MGB GT. Never have owned anything but an manual. Keeps me totally involved and alert to all the morons killing each other on our roads today.
    Can an automatic shift faster than a person? Yep, and who cares? Are you running on a race track or something? In every day driving the difference in time to 60 mph is so tiny as to be irrelevant.
    I have tested the 2015 GTI twice now and the manual is perfect in engagement, throw, clutch feel, etc.
    Sadly the future of the American automobile is going to be self-driven, thus the manual tranny is doomed. UGH.
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