VW (Volkswagen) Beetle transmissions

Volkswagen Beetle transmissions

The Type 1 Volkswagen, more popularly known as the Beetle, was produced from 1938 to 2003. During that period, engine displacements varied from 1100 cc to 1600 cc over the years. Volkswagen Beetle transmissions for this period, however, were manual transmissions only, with the 4-speed manual being the standard transmission for the Type 1 Beetle until production ended.

Beginning in 1968, however, Volkswagen introduced the Volkswagen Automatic Stickshift. This was a 3-speed manual transmission equipped with a vacuum-operated clutch and a torque converter. The vacuum clutch was operated by a 12-volt solenoid mechanism connect to the gearshift knob. Everytime the driver gripped the gearshift knob, the solenoid would operate the vacuum clutch, allowing the driver to shift gears. When the driver removed his hand from the gear knob, the clutch would reengage. The torque converter allowed the Beetle to idle while in gear, acting like an automatic. Operated by the transmission fluid, the torque converter allowed the 3-speed manual to work like an automatic, in that it allowed the car to stop while in gear and also to start from a standing start while in gear. The Autostick transmission was removed from the options list in 1976.

New Beetle October 1997 – July 2010

The New Beetle, launched in 1998 and sold until 2010, was never intended by Volkswagen to be a people’s car like the original was. It had many variants as well as plenty of engine types during the period that it was manufactured. Initially, all Volkswagen Beetle transmissions of this generation had a standard 5-speed manual transmission or an optional 4-speed automatic.

In 2005, the 1.8T turbo engine got a ULEV rating in tandem with its standard five speed manual transmission. A 5-speed manual was the standard transmission on all trim levels, except the Turbo S, which got a six-speed manual. A six-speed Tiptronic became an option on 2.0 and 1.8T engines. A point of interest is that the TDI diesel versions of the New Beetle are the only VW cars then in North America to have had the Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) transmission. It is essentially a six-speed manual transmission, with the clutch being removed from the control of the driver and instead placed in the control of a transmission computer, which controls hydraulic servos. In operation, it is smoother than a conventional automatic transmission, and should the driver opt for manual operation, the resulting gear changes are quicker and more precise.

Beginning in 2006, the turbodiesel engine was dropped because new emissions requirements did not allow it to be brought to the market. A 150-horsepower 2.5-liter five cylinder became the standard engine, together with a five-speed manual transmission. The six-speed Tiptronic automatic with a manual shift gate was an option during these years. The final edtion of the New Beetle in 2010 was powered by a 2.5 litre engine mated to the semi-automatic Tiptronic transmission. A Tiptronic transmission normally operates in the same way as a conventional automatic transmission; however, a second mode of operation allows the driver to override the automatic gear changes so he can select gears himself for spirited driving. The transmission computer still monitors all shift changes to prevent damage to the engine and transmission.

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