Volkswagen Drops the Jetta GLI Manual Transmission

VW's sports sedan becomes a little less sporty, but hopefully just temporarily.

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The VW Jetta GLI has lost a key ingredient for butting its way past the hatchback GTI—a manual transmission.

Cars Direct reports that the 2018 Volkswagen Jetta GLI will only be available with the dual-clutch automatic transmission. The sporty top-end version of the Jetta will not offer the manual transmission that has always been available in GLI models until now. The GTI will continue to offer a stick.

Volkswagen spokesman Mark Gillies told Cars Direct that the take rate on the GLI's manual transmission was 30 percent. This is amazingly good for a manual transmission these days, is only half the take rate of the GTI. That's why the manual is only being dropped in the Jetta GLI and not the GTI.

The rest of the 2018 Jetta GLI is pretty much a carry-over from 2017, with the same 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine making 210 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. Pricing will start at $30,395, including the dual-clutch automatic transmission which used to be an $1,100 option. GTI pricing for 2018 has not yet been announced, but 2017 models start at $26,415 with a manual transmission, costing $27,515 with the dual-clutch automatic. That's a significant savings over the Jetta GLI with either transmission.

However, all hope is not lost for a sporty row-your-own Volkswagen with a trunk. An unnamed VW spokesman told Motor Authority that the reason why the manual was dropped is that 2018 will be a very short model year, with the next generation Jetta coming out next year as a 2019 model, and it didn't make business sense to offer a manual GLI for such a short time. So perhaps a manual transmission will return to the new Jetta GLI next year.