Third Look: 2010 Volkswagen Golf 2.5 - The Transmission War

By John Beltz Snyder

March 30, 2010

Previously, we reviewed the Volkswagen Golf 2.5, it was equipped with the automatic transmission. This time around, we got into a stripped-down, two-door, manual-equipped, as-base-as-you-can-get model.

With the six-speed automatic available as a no-charge option, in most cars, we’d be surprised if the take rate on the five-speed manual gearbox were at all substantial. There’s a case to be made for the auto, as we pointed out during our time with it, as VW does a great job with them. From an enthusiast standpoint, though, we still prefer the do-it-yourself ‘box.

The clutch uptake is super smooth, never jerky or unclean. It’s easy enough that it would be a good one for a beginner to learn on, yet precise and fast enough for the spirited driver. Like everything else in the Golf, it has a soft feel, but not doughy.

The lever has a similar feel when rowing through the gears—soft, yet precise. There’s just enough resistance, and then give, to know that you’re securely in gear. Though not sloppy, it doesn’t put up too much of a fight, either. And the spacing is such that we never questioned that we were going into the proper gear.

In a word, the five-speed manual transmission in the Golf 2.5 is intuitive. Gears are selected naturally, without conscious effort. This is good stuff, whether we’re tackling our favorite winding roads or navigating heavy traffic. For a manual, this is about as automatic as it gets.