Standard used to be, well, standard. But today, as automatic transmissions continue to get smarter and faster, the manual transmission is quickly going the way of the dodo for most manufacturers.
Especially in Canada.
Audi, for example, put a kibosh
on all of its Canadian-market manual transmissions last year.
Over at Volkswagen
Canada, however, the old hands-on shifting method has been witnessing something of an uptick.
VW just released its most recent Jetta SportWagen and souped-up AllTrack, each with a six-speed manual transmission and 4Motion AWD for those Canadian drivers who don't deal well with idle hands.
And to its surprise (and our delight), they've been selling like hotcakes. Fun, hands-on, old-school hotcakes.
According to the
, VW is reporting that 40 percent
of Canadian shoppers are opting for the manual package on the Alltrack and Sportwagen, higher than the standard (see what we did there) manual gearbox uptake rate across all manufacturers.
'We are pleasantly surprised,' Thomas Tetzlaff, VW Canada's public relations manager told the Herald
. 'Early estimates pegged the install rate around 25 percent, but we did not expect or anticipate a 40 percent rate.'
So why are people opting for the – let's face it—technically inferior manual transmission?
'With the SportWagen coming in right around 40 percent, it definitely puts the car in the ‘sporty' camp. Our guess is that wagon buyers tend to be a bit more ‘picky' when it comes to their car and they want what they want, so a manual transmission is very appealing to them,' said Tetzlaff.
There's another likely reason drivers are seeking out the stickshift, though. And it's the same reason they always have: standard is way more fun.
'It's popular to hear things like 'modern automatics are more fuel efficient than ever, which renders a manual obsolete', but that's just an excuse,' Tetzlaff said. 'I doubt many people buy a manual to save a dollar at the pumps; they buy a manual because they enjoy the driving experience.'
Could this be the beginning of the second coming of the manual tranny in Canada? It is at VW. We'll have to wait and see if other manufacturers follow suit with manual offerings in similarly sporty models.