Home » The Dream is Dead: The Next VW Golf GTI Will Not Get A Manual

The Dream is Dead: The Next VW Golf GTI Will Not Get A Manual

2025 Volkswagen Golf Gti Ces2
ADVERTISEMENT

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is the iconic hot hatch. A rorty little engine driving the front wheels, paired with a manual gearbox that gives the driver the ultimate connection to the driving experience. The legend started in 1975 and continued through generation after generation of Volkswagen hatchbacks, eventually even spreading to the Polo and Up models, too. But now, the dream is over. The next Golf GTI will not come with a manual.

As covered by Car and Driverit’s all official. At CES 2024, Volkswagen showed off an updated version of the GTI in a fancy futuristic wrap. It previewed the new model on the way for the 2025 model year, featuring new headlights and taillights, and an infotainment system kitted out with ChatGPT. Lovely changes (or mad) depending on your viewpoint, but all that fades into the background compared to the big headline change that it will no longer come with three pedals.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Up until now, the Golf GTI has been available with a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. However, as covered earlier by The Autopian, the former is now apparently at the end of line. There are surely valid business reasons behind the move, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less.

We reached out for VW for background on the move. Despite strong support for the manual in the U.S., it seems other markets weren’t interested enough in three pedals to make it worthwhile going forward. From a VW spokesperson:

In the U.S., manual take rate for Golf R and Jetta GLI is 40 percent, while MY24 GTI is around 50 percent. However, these are global cars and no-one buys manuals in other markets. Indeed, the US and Canada were the only markets to sell a Mk8 manual Golf R.

To salve the pain, Volkswagen announced a special-edition—the Golf GTI 380. For the 2024 model year, every manual GTI will be sold in this trim. The name is a reference, 380 being the project number Volkswagen used internally to refer to the Mk 8 GTI. It’s the same naming scheme VW used on the Mk4 Golf GTI 337. To celebrate the end of an era, it comes with 19-inch alloy wheels from the Golf R, painted black, along with gloss black mirror caps and a black roof. There’s an exclusive paint option too, but it’s kinda dull—Graphite Grey Metallic.

ADVERTISEMENT

Large 17149 Special Edition2024volkswagengolfgti380celebratesthemanualtransmissioninvwshothatch

17144 Special Edition2024volkswagengolfgti380celebratesthemanualtransmissioninvwshothatch

Large 17139 Special Edition2024volkswagengolfgti380celebratesthemanualtransmissioninvwshothatch
Does this look like a special edition to you? Me neither.

It’s a shame, in a way. Volkswagen could have gone ham, building harlequin GTIs or giving the last model some kind of silly high-powered overboost to send the manual off with some fanfare. Literally! Instead, it’s just more grey, and a borrowed set of wheels. Surely VW could have come up with a unique set of alloys, at least.

It’s ending, not with a bang, but with a whimper.

It’s worth noting, though, that the U.S. is lucky to get the GTI at all. The GTI and Golf R are the only two Golf models left in the market, with the rest disappearing when the Mk 8 kicked off in 2022. Don’t think the bonkers R model is immune, either. It’s slated to lose its manual, too.

ADVERTISEMENT

Other manual hot hatches will still be on the market, so us enthusiasts will band together and migrate to other models and other brands. But the company that was so long at the heart of the hot hatch scene? The brand that launched a thousand slammed Golfs into a thousand Euro car shows? It’s said goodbye, manuals, and thanks for all the shifts. Vale.

Image credits: Volkswagen

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
43 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
FleetwoodBro
FleetwoodBro
3 months ago

50% manual take rate in USA. What is wrong with VW management? I don’t think they’ve been serious about the North American market since the Routan.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Routan

The decision to drop the manual is the latest example of inexplicable corporate arrogance — which will heretofore be known as “corpo-inexplicogance” in top tier business schools. It reminds me of GM stopping production of the hot selling Bolt to “save” money. What about all the customers who would’ve bought one and become GM customers for their next purchase and maybe even the one after that? Bolt shoppers aren’t interested in a dank ass Blazer EV, and so will never darken a Chevy dealer’s door. VW is similarly obsessed with short-term beancounter thinking and it never ends well.

Mike TowpathTraveler
Mike TowpathTraveler
3 months ago

How I remember the first Car & Driver reviews of the Rabbit GTI. It seemed every picture taken at speed was a GTI making a sharp turn at speed and the classic inner rear tire some inches off the ground.

These days, it seems the people running VW don’t love being in the business of making cars to excite the buyer. Back in the day when the New Beetle was fresh and new, I bought one. The local VW dealership was busy with customers and buyers. The New Bugs seemed to be everywhere you went. GTI’s, as well, at that point, a legacy model, not much different than a Camaro or Mustang or Corvette. I don’t think that early 2000’s for VW products is there these days and it all goes back to the leadership….

Racer Esq.
Racer Esq.
3 months ago

It looks like the US market GTI is made in Germany while all variations of the US market Jetta are made in Mexico for the North American market, so it will be interesting to see if the Jetta keeps stick.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
3 months ago

Maybe y’all will stop buying wasteful pieces of junk now? As someone who hates planned obsolescence and anything designed to become garbage after a certain age, I really don’t understand the appeal of VWs. I hope they lose 50% of their customers over this so fewer of the darn things will clutter FB Marketplace at the end of their useful lives and haunt junkyards. Screw VW engineering, all they do is build future waste.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
3 months ago

In the U.S., manual take rate for Golf R and Jetta GLI is 40 percent, while MY24 GTI is around 50 percent. However, these are global cars and no-one buys manuals in other markets”

I find that really hard to believe. I think the real issue is that in places like the EU, the GTI isn’t selling much in either automatic or manual form because of taxation, fuel costs and upcoming emissions regs.
https://www.motorbiscuit.com/european-regulations-killing-manual-golf-gti-r/

So due to falling ICE vehicle sales overall, one way they are cutting costs is by reducing the number of powertrain/transmission options.

R Rr
R Rr
3 months ago

However, these are global cars and no-one buys manuals in other markets”

Hmm.. ‘global cars’ you say? How about the fact that the US version only has direct injection, while the ‘rest of the world’ ones have both port- and direct-injection? ..or the fact that US cars are built in Puebla, Mexico, while the ‘rest of the world’ cars are not?

It would be nice if people writing on this ‘automotive’ website could also do a tiny bit of research or fact-checking instead of just parroting press releases from automakers 🙂

Aerostarman89
Aerostarman89
3 months ago

Having been able to have drive a MK8 GTI with the DSG its incredible. I have no idea why anyone would want to purchase a manual version of this car. The shifts are incredibly quick, precise to the point that even the best drivers wouldn’t be able to compete with the shifting of the DSG with a manual.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
3 months ago

No manual no care.

BolognaBurrito
BolognaBurrito
3 months ago

When is VW finally going to learn and resurrect Piech from the dead?

Tsorel
Tsorel
3 months ago

It’s not like all those people that were buying the manual version will suddenly want to buy an automatic. There is no more reason now to buy a VW, I sure won’t, unless it a clean used manual. Cars are becoming less and less interesting to me these days with manual options becoming so sparse. I will just stick with motorcycles as my main transportation and a vintage manual car just in case I need to take passengers.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
3 months ago
Reply to  Tsorel

Even if VW built the last manual car on earth, I wouldn’t buy one. Nothing can make VW ownership worth it with their engineering. I hope all the people that wanted a new manual golf buy literally anything else instead so the used market won’t be cluttered with old VWs at the end of their useful lives anymore. Even Subarus aren’t THAT bad when they get old.

Last edited 3 months ago by Austin Vail
OnceInAMillenia
OnceInAMillenia
3 months ago

Were this a US only thing, I could see why people could be upset, but given it’s worldwide, it’s fine. When the Golf family only sells 11,000 units a year in the US, I wouldn’t expect them to keep a special transmission for just us.

Last edited 3 months ago by OnceInAMillenia
MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
3 months ago

It’s not fine. I’m not fine.

I need a moment…

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
3 months ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

Alright I’m better now.

Yeah, it’s fine.

OnceInAMillenia
OnceInAMillenia
3 months ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

Hey, at least there’s still the BRZ

ProfessorOfUselessFacts
ProfessorOfUselessFacts
3 months ago

Well, as much as manual transmissions add fun, for some they are not an option. Injuries can impact the ability to use a clutch or to shift, and with the advance in efficiency of automatics, it kinda makes sense. Never mind the fact that more people are driving in a world where they are never exposed to a manual. Last time I drove one was more than 20 years ago…

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
3 months ago

I can’t imagine a particularly significant proportion of car buyers, especially GTI buyers, have injuries that preclude driving manual.

The last time you drove a manual was over 20 years ago? What’s wrong with you? Begone, automatic-loving boring person!

ProfessorOfUselessFacts
ProfessorOfUselessFacts
3 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I’ve broken my back in 4 places, so any driving is uncomfortable. Add the need to reach and shift more frequently, and it just doesn’t add up for me. A friend of mine lost his right arm in a motorcycle accident, and was no longer able to use a manual. There are lots of people out there with injuries that make manuals less optimal.

That being said, I’d be open to one on a vehicle that is going to be for fun use once or twice a month.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
3 months ago

I still think semi-automatic transmissions shouldn’t have been abandoned so quickly. A lot of the fun of a manual could still be had without the clutch pedal, as long as you still have a proper H-pattern shifter, and then people with injuries could still enjoy rowing their own gears, and people intimidated by learning clutches might be brave enough to give it a try as well.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
3 months ago

Are you saying that the mk VIII GTI had no manual in Europe? I thought Europeans loved manuals and making fun of the US and Canada for not driving manuals!

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
3 months ago
Reply to  Thomas Metcalf

AFAIK it’ll still be available in the bog-standard Golf (sadly not available in US/CA).

Jacob Rippey
Jacob Rippey
3 months ago

Mid 2000’s was Piech Volkswagen to me. V-DUB in the HOUSE.

Sucktastico!
Sucktastico!
3 months ago

Got a 380 specifically because it was the last of the breed – my Mk7 was DSG, and it was… fine, but definitely not “right”. Every other VW i had was stick, going back to my first Rabbit, and it just didnt feel like home to have a GTI with flappy paddles. Is the entertainment system not good? Sure, but I got used to it and dont have the vitriol for it others seem to. Android Auto works flawlessly anyways. Sad to see them drop it, but the next GTI is electric anyways, so it was coming no matter what.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
3 months ago

“In the U.S., manual take rate for Golf R and Jetta GLI is 40 percent, while MY24 GTI is around 50 percent. However, these are global cars and no-one buys manuals in other markets.”

Wow. America “I’m too lazy to use my left foot and I don’t even know how” buys more manual GTIs than Europe “you silly Americans, how can you even be that stupid, manuals are the only kind of transmission in my country”?

VaHooz
VaHooz
3 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Does anyone know how “take rate” is calculated? It is often reported that the “take rate” for manuals is x% this year. Unless people are simply not purchasing them and they’re languishing on dealer lots indefinitely, isn’t the “take rate” always 100% of what’s produced?

OnceInAMillenia
OnceInAMillenia
3 months ago
Reply to  VaHooz

It’s a percentage of what’s built, but what’s built is based on what dealers order/think they can sell, and customer demand for manuals for Golf has always been higher than other cars

Chris Stevenson
Chris Stevenson
3 months ago

Huh, I never would have guessed that the US was keeping the manual alive. I thought manuals were still around 40% of the European family car market.

V10omous
V10omous
3 months ago

IIRC, the US has been the reason manuals were kept alive in other cars too (BMW M, 911 GT3, perhaps others).

Phuzz
Phuzz
3 months ago

I guess it might come down to shear volume. If only a small percentage of customers want a manual, it might still make sense in the US market where they can still sell enough to make it worthwhile.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
3 months ago

I’m confused as well. Here’s a link with a little more data, but I’d love to see a deep dive on this (total population v. take rate, etc.): https://www.motor1.com/news/694709/manual-transmissions-rarity-industry-world/

Aerostarman89
Aerostarman89
3 months ago

I think it is related to the perception of buying an automatic sports car that carries on the US. Specs and driving experience be damned, If I aM gONnA bUy A sPoRtS cAr, ItS gOtTa Be A sTiCk, CaUsE i AiN’t nO sIsSy. /s

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
3 months ago

This is just sad…also, “no one buys manuals in other markets.” I thought a lot of people still buy manuals in Britain and I would guess a lot of other countries

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
3 months ago

VW is doing their best to incinerate what little enthusiast cred they have left. Honestly when I look at their approach to these cars as well Subaru’s and some other manufacturers’ there’s a part of me that wonders if they’re willingly neglecting their enthusiast cars at best or sabotaging them at the worst. VW’s special editions of the MK8 GTI and Golf are hilariously low effort and apparently the market agrees, because all the 40th anniversary GTIs that showed up in my area were discounted…and I think we’re pretty universally taken aback by the ChatGPT crap that was just announced.

Don’t get me wrong, I know we have some folks here who swear by their MK8s or their VB WRXs and whatnot and I don’t want to knock anyone’s ride or anything…but as someone who’s owned a GTI and lusted after one from a young age I just don’t really see the appeal anymore to be honest. This has become a really competitive segment in recent years and with options like GR Corolla, CTR, etc.

I personally can’t imagine picking one of the current spicy Golfs and willingly putting up with all the reliability and complicated tech compromises…and now with the manual dead it’s one less reason to recommend them. Literally everything this competes with is available in stick and if you want an auto the DCT in the Ns runs laps around VW’s DSG (and I’d know, I’ve driven multiple DSG GTIs and a DSG Golf R hard and tracked my N). And of course I traded my GTI for my Kona N and have given that spiel enough that I won’t repeat it again.

I’d have more laughs at VW’s expense but I also think it’s kind of sad. They’re a company that gave us so many cool cars over the years and right now they just seem so directionless and devoid of mojo. It’s a damn shame in this segment too because there are more options than ever right now.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
3 months ago

I’d like to ride in a late model GTI just for comparison’s sake.
I made a faux GTI out of the family 82 4door LS Rabbit: did all the suspension, and dropped an 8v ABA in which about doubled the hp while only adding ~15lbs. Not fast by today’s standards, but only weighed about 2k lbs so you could fling it about with gleeful abandon.

And a buddy’s 08 GTI wasn’t any faster through the esses on my road than my little bunny was. It was much nicer and had ac, but would plow when you pushed it, while mine just took a tiny right-foot twitch to bring the rear out a bit to get you set again.
Maybe it’s just nostalgia —and I do miss the BunnyInjection badge on the back 😉

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
3 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

I had a MK7.5 and there were aspects of it that I really liked. The interior was ridiculously nice for the price point, the driving experience was near luxury car levels of refined, and it was pretty fun.

What I didn’t like were the frequent electronic bugs, the misfires that VW techs claimed they couldn’t solve, the overly active traction and stability control that couldn’t be fully defeated, and the fact that the driving experience fell apart after you reached 7.5/10.

I really wanted more out of the car but VW sets pretty conservative parameters for how much they’ll let you push it that are too easy to reach. I’ve been told the aftermarket can solve a lot of these issues and really wake a GTI up, but the prospect of owning a VAG product without a warranty is a hard pass from me.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
3 months ago

I have a 2023 GTI and can speak to the appeal. The reason I chose it over the Corolla and Civic is that I’m an almost-40-year-old corporate lawyer mom and those 2 cars were just too … skater boi (or whatever the kids are saying!) for me. The GTI styling is a little more subdued.
The infotainment is weird and glitchy but holy shit it’s fun to drive. I know in a couple of years my kids won’t fit in the backseat and I’ll be in a PHEV or BEV SUV. Just one last little hurrah for me (and apparently for VW as well).

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
3 months ago
Reply to  Pupmeow

Agreed about the styling of the GTI vs Civic. However I had a Mk6 GTI for 10 months before I traded it in on an Si. The Honda has never let me down, never thrown a code, gets ~30% better mileage, is still fun to drive, but doesn’t spark joy. The GTI drove like a dream, got crap mileage, was in the shop 3 times in those 10 months, but I loved it and still think about another. Stockholm syndrome is a real thing!

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
3 months ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

Consider this a reply to both of you. I bought my MK7.5 GTI brand spanking new in 2020 and it was in the shop 3 times in the first 5,000 miles for misfires and assorted code chucking. The VW techs were on a spectrum between “don’t even worry about it, VWs just do this sometimes” and “yeah it’s a problem and it could be dangerous but there’s nothing we can do lol sorry”.

In addition to that the cruise control just straight up bugged out and didn’t work on several occasions, the car absolutely incinerated its consumables (the windshield wipers were completely useless in the first year of ownership, the stock tires were gaping ass and wore down in about half the time they were expected to) and around 15,000 miles it was having issues starting up.

My armchair diagnosis was that I likely had a bad spark plug, but at that point I was over it and because of the COVID price insanity it literally hadn’t depreciated a cent since I bought it, so I had a big chunk of equity in it. I initially started the process of getting a GR Corolla but it became apparent quickly that it was going to be a massive shit show.

I checked out the Ns because I wanted to take a look at the competition and wound up liking the Elantra N so much/finding the affordability so appealing that I pulled out (huehuehue) of the GRC process and turned my focus to Ns. My wife was aware that there was a CUV version and essentially said “I’ll let you make this dumb financial decision on the condition that you get the CUV”, to which I said YEE HAW!

I wanted more edge and fun than what the GTI offered (I’m in my early 30s so there’s a small amount of boy racer-ness that I can conceivably get away with) with less headaches and so far the Kona N has given me that in spades. It has had 0 issues over the first 11,500 miles other than an “icy road warning” bug that I cleared by doing a hard rest on the infotainment.

Everything else has worked flawlessly and it’s held up well despite a fair amount of hard driving and a track day. On Saturday it’s going in for an oil change, tire rotation, and cabin/engine air filter replacements. I’m sure I could put the air filters off for another 6 months but I figured I’d just get them done a little early even if it costs a couple hundred bucks.

I do still see the appeal of a GTI though. They offer a lot of the hooning fun with way less of the stigma and they’re more refined than anything else in the sporty compact genre because the MQB platform has to scale up to luxury products…and there are definitely times when I miss that refinement because my Kona N has none whatsoever and it can get a little draining when you’re driving it normally.

It always wants to party and sometimes that’s just not what you need, especially living in the city like I do. But then again whenever I find an empty backroad it makes me giggle like a kid the entire time and for me that’s worth the compromise of the lack of refinement. It can do a decent enough impression of a true sports car and a true NPC car that it makes for a shockingly cheap one car solution…although what you save is more or less nullified by the horrific Korean car depreciation so that’s something to keep in mind.

I’m eyeing a CTR or Integra Type S as my next move down the road, although I’d prefer that they find a way to offer a decent auto because I really don’t enjoy driving stick in DC traffic and my wife can’t drive manual.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
3 months ago

Unfortunately early 30’s was 15 years ago for me. At this point I’m trying to decide between something else in the hot-hatch area (N’s are definitely on the radar), or something nicer, softer, more luxury. Or maybe electric?

This is the part I really love, the thrill of the hunt!

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
3 months ago

Wow that manual take rate is impressive!

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
3 months ago

Lose the manual but gain ChatGPT? That’s a good tradeoff.

Not.

Vee
Vee
3 months ago

I’m not even sure that car companies even know what the fuck people want anymore. They know what people will put up with, sure. But I’ve only ever heard complaints about so many of the “smart” features that get added into cars, even from people who love their new car. It makes me think of the “Nuclear is the solution to everything!” insanity of the late 1950s where nobody knew what the fuck it was or how to use it, only that it sounded cool and maybe the kids were into it. We almost had low yield nuclear emergency generators and a thorium powered van. Only the physical danger and cost stopped that. Without the physical danger (but still very real intellectual and privacy danger) and almost no cost companies are losing their shit rushing after every tech scam they hear about.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
3 months ago
Reply to  Vee

“We almost had low yield nuclear emergency generators”

We did. They powered pacemakers and were IMPLANTED inside people. One woman used hers for 34 years with no ill effects:

https://www.medicaldesignandoutsourcing.com/medtech-memoirs-the-plutonium-powered-pacemaker/

Larger one used to power remote lighthouses and radio beacons existed elsewhere too and they were fine as long as they were used as directed. They were only dangerous when broken apart by people who hadn’t a clue what was inside.

(insert comment about a certain chainsaw welding battery dismantler here)

That thorium powered van? Still on the table:

https://medium.com/@miteefire/the-future-of-energy-thorium-powered-vehicles-26886c7f3557

Last edited 3 months ago by Cheap Bastard
43
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x