VW GTI and Golf R lead in manual take rate, but Sportwagen buyers like to shift, too

Volkswagen's overall manual take rate is modest

We're continuing to get manual transmission take-rate numbers from manufacturers, and one of the latest sets of information comes from Volkswagen. And we should get the obvious out of the way, the take rate for the enthusiast-oriented Golf R and GTI is the highest. In 2018, 44% of those hot hatchbacks left dealer lots with a manual transmission. Some enthusiasts might be sad to see that more are sold with an automatic, but this seems like a strong rate when you consider that the R and GTI are available with such an excellent dual-clutch transmission. Also, when only about a third of Toyota 86s are sold with a manual, this looks better and better.

What's quite surprising about VW's manual numbers is they reveal Golf Sportwagen buyers really like shifting for themselves. A whopping 28% of Sportwagens (including Alltracks) had a manual transmission, or roughly 3 in 10. Not every automaker we've talked with has broken out sales to that level of detail, but Toyota did reveal that the Corolla hatchback specifically had a 15% take rate. And with Honda, the Civic overall take rate was at 13.6%, which included the manual-exclusive Si and Type R. So VW wagon buyers are definitely wanting to keep the manual transmission alive.

When we get to the regular Golf hatchback, Jetta sedan, and overall percentage, manual popularity looks more like what we've seen from other automakers. Of all Golfs, 10% had a stick, and 7% of Jettas had one. Overall, manual transmission sales accounted for 5% of VW's total 2018 sales. That falls just below Subaru's 7% overall take rate in 2018, but well ahead of Honda's 2.8% in the same year. So manual transmissions are still a niche, but at least it's nice to see that it's a significant portion of select models, which should keep the option around for a while.

Volkswagen Golf GTI Information

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