The stick shift is dead. Long live the stick shift.
It's been a rough ride for old-school drivers that like to row their own gears. With technology moving on, the manual transmission is becoming the preserve of the ultra economy car and super-niche sports cars. Every year, the number of vehicles available with a manual transmission dwindles as companies phase them out. The world wants either easy to drive vehicles or lightning-fast shifts even the most dexterous and smooth enthusiast can't match. However, Volkswagen is going against the grain and has thrown some serious developmental man-hours into a whole new manual transmission for its vehicles.
In a press release, the German automaker claims it has developed a new state-of-the-art manual gearbox and that it saves close to 0.28 ounces of CO2 per mile depending on the engine and gearbox combination.
Also according to Volkswagen, the new transmission has been specifically made with SUVs in mind. The challenge there is in just how hard SUVs can be on a manual transmission due to their weight and larger wheels. On top of that, it also has a torque spectrum between 147 and 250 lb-ft, which improves on previous models.
Efficiency is the name of the game for Volkswagen's new transmission. "Here we employed virtual development methods,” says Helmut Göbbels, VW's head of manual gearbox and 4WD development, "This enabled us to design a completely new oil conduction system. Using a variety of oil conduction measures, we are able to achieve a uniform and optimum lubrication of gear wheels and bearings, reducing the amount of lifetime oil required to just 1.5 liters.”
The in-house developed and built MQ281 manual transmission finds its first home in the European Passat to start with, then Volkswagen says it will find its way into almost all vehicle classes the Volkswagen Group offers. Currently, it's unclear if the transmission will find its way into US models but it's likely that Volkswagen would want to use the good-will from both the press and enthusiasts in bringing more manual options, as well as making use of the emissions advantages. And if there's a company that needs the words goodwill and emissions to be used in the same sentence, it's Volkswagen.