VW Golf R And Audi S3 Set Out To Solve Manual Vs Auto Conundrum

Despite automatic transmissions going from good to just plain awesome in recent times, some driving enthusiasts still consider the manual to be a must-have, regardless of acceleration times.

In order to demonstrate the difference between a manual and an auto, Carwow employed a VW Golf R and an Audi S3, pitting them against each other in a straight line, from a standstill as well as a roll.

Both cars are powered by the VW Group’s 2.0-liter TFSI unit, sending an impressive 310 PS (305 HP) to all four wheels with the help of an all-wheel drive system. On paper, both will get from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.6 seconds – but that’s only doable if they’re using automatic transmissions.

Swap the Golf R’s 7-speed DSG gearbox for the six-speed manual and the aforementioned sprint will take 5.1 seconds, according to VW. But what if you get a really good jump off the line in the Golf? Is the Audi S3’s S tronic gearbox good enough to help the car make up ground despite having the same amount of horsepower?

We won’t spoil it for you, except to say that both races (standstill and roll) were extremely telling, especially if you’re actively considering purchasing a VW Golf R and straight line acceleration is one of your main concerns.

  • Dr Strangefingger

    Not sure if there are two car models that I dislike more than these two blobs of vanilla…

    • Mynameis Taylor

      they’re sophisticated. not “boy racer”

    • Six_Tymes

      fixed: two over priced blobs of vanilla..


    Automatic gives you faster and more consistent gear changes but manual makes it more fun and rewarding. Just make sure you avoid the money shift.


  • LeStori

    Unfortunatley “Stomper” gearboxes have largely driven manual gearboxes out of existence. But apart from stomping on the accelerator pedal there is litttle envolvment in driving the car. Probably the reason we see so many videos of cars spinning the wheels and crashing these days.

  • Vassilis

    In hot hatches it’s manual every single time.

    • SteersUright

      I dont know…Not for me personally I dont think. Give me lightning quick shifts and flappy paddles in any modern sporting car and a manual on any classic.

      • Vassilis

        We’ve had this conversation before haven’t we? :p There are different levels to this. In hot hatches you really don’t need a dct. They’re fun cars, not ultimate lap time weapons and their manual gearboxes are very good. If you can shift fast they’re only 0.2 sec slower than a dct. In faster cars it’s more debatable because in the top echelons of performance it gets to a point you don’t have enough time to shift manually and it stops being fun.

        • SteersUright

          Lol. Im sure we have. Ahh, the fun of the comments sections, you can beat any topic to death! haha
          I fully understand and even agree with you. I drove a manual Gti and loved it. Then I drove the DSG and loved it too! Then I had the awesome opportunity to get (on Turo!) both a 2017 911 S manual followed by a 2017 911 S PDK and guess what? I loved them both for all the reasons you said and all the reasons I mentioned. Listening to the flat 6 downshift and blip the throttle with the PDK was so good I think I could record it and make a song out of it. Pulling of my own expert shift with the manual, feeling the flat 6 vibrate through it as well, was so raw and thrilling I also loved it. Guess there are only winners and winners when the car is awesome and both transmissions are very well developed.

  • SteersUright

    The S3 could also easily be making a bit more power than advertised given its more premium placement in the Audi/VW totem pole. That said, Porsche advertises 5.6 for a base Cayman manual and 5.0 for the PDK so these transmission do truly seem to add quite a bit more pace to sports cars. Thats why im shocked we dont see a “PDK” in any American sports cars yet given what a huge advantage it seems to offer.

  • SteersUright

    They are at times, depending how they are applied.

  • DMax

    Because racing hatchbacks in a straight line is sooooo fun. I’ll take the manual.

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