7 Hours in a Volkswagen Golf Mk7 1.6 TDI Manual Across Ireland

This is going to be pretty short. Yesterday I drove a rental Golf from Dublin to Cliffs of Moher to Galway and back to Dublin. In total, it was a little over 7 hours. These are my bulletpoint impressions:


  • No wonder people are choosing automatics. This is easily one of the worst manuals I’ve driven. Let’s say you take away from a toll plaza and want to gain speed quickly... NO. You can’t. Even if you rev out first gear, you have to count to 3 before you can shift into second. The revs just hang and hang and hang and hang for days.
  • I really dislike cars with a “push down” lockout for reverse. Especially when reverse is essentially in the same place as first. This might be personal preference.
  • This car would be too slow for the US without the DSG. It’s fine in Ireland.
  • It’s hard to believe this is the same platform as a GTI. Handling is pretty vague and it really feels like you’re sitting cab-forward.
  • The seats are lackluster for long journeys. My balls started to go numb after hour 5.
  • The pickup point for the clutch is both easy and vague at the same time.


  • There is actually enough space for your clutch leg despite being RHD.
  • The car has a range of over 500 miles/tank
  • It fits people and their stuff pretty well. We have 3 people and 2 large suitcases.
  • Android Auto, just like the Jetta I had in Austin, saves the infotainment experience.
  • Radar cruise works surprisingly well.
  • The complete lack of power means I haven’t had to worry about spinning a front tire - which was a problem with the Jetta that I recently drove.
  • It took us all the way to Cliffs of Moher and back without any issues.

Driving in Ireland

  • Obviously it’s the opposite side as the US.
  • Annoyingly, the traffic lights don’t do the helpful “orange before green” thing that they do in the UK.
  • Highways are pretty much like US highways in mirror-mode.
  • Roads outside the highways are small, tight, twisty, and fairly fast when not behind a tourist.
  • Rural roads require more concentration than US rural roads due to the size and number of tour busses.
  • Similar to the UK, some roads are a negotiation of who can go first since parked cars make it a single track.

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