Volkswagen Hints the 2025 Jetta GLI Will Keep the Manual

The new fast Jetta will likely have the six-speed that you can't get in a GTI.
Teaser images of 2025 Vokswagen GLI grille and shifter.
Volkswagen, The Drive

Despite the death of the manual transmission in the Volkswagen GTI and Golf R, it sure seems like the new Jetta GLI will be keeping the stickshift. Volkswagen is teasing the imminent release of a new model with a six-speed manual transmission on June 25, and it’s likely to be another tantalizing glimpse at the upcoming Jetta and its faster twin, the Jetta GLI. The compact sedans are due for a refresh in 2025, and we’ve all been wondering whether the GLI will retain the manual transmission as it undergoes its latest facelift. It seems like the answer is yes.

Volkswagen may have mercifully decided to throw enthusiasts a bone and keep the Jetta GLI in the small camp of stick shift cars. That camp is getting more barren in the U.S. market by the model year, even among German automakers like BMW and Volkswagen, both former champions of manual transmissions in their performance cars. In fact, if the GLI keeps the six-speed stick, that would make the small four-door something of a rarity at Volkswagen showrooms as the only new model that’s available with a manual transmission. An earlier teaser showed the phrase “Let’s Go!” hidden in the front end of what appears to be the new GLI, and this second teaser likely confirms the return of the manual:

I’m not saying that would put the new GLI above the GTI in terms of desirability—not even close. We don’t expect the new GLI to get a huge power bump in output from its current 2.0-liter turbo inline-four, which makes 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque; that’s already a generous bump in performance from the base model Jetta’s 1.5-liter turbo inline-four. But keeping the manual as an option in the “GTI with a trunk,” as VW optimistically calls the sports compact, could finally shine a spotlight on the GLI and put it further upfront in the minds of American car enthusiasts, err, buyers. The GLI will never fully come out from behind the shadow of the GTI, but it deserves more fanfare than it usually gets.

Of course, the cryptic Volkswagen message of “a shift is coming…” has fans wondering if that means something is about to change on a grand scale, or if it hints at something bigger than the refresh of a stalwart small sedan. Folks are even asking if VW is teasing the possibility of an EV with a manual-transmission, which would admittedly be awesome, but it’s best not to get our hopes up—at least, not in the short term. All signs point to this being about the Jetta GLI, the most underrated and oft-forgotten compact from Volkswagen.

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