Question: I am considering buying a late-model VW Golf 5 GTI with about 90 000 km on the odometer. I would like a model with the DSG transmission, but have read complaints about the high cost of repairs when something goes wrong with the gearbox. How reliable are DSGs? These cars are quite expensive second-hand. I don’t want to be stuck with a high repair bill shortly after buying one. Should I play it safe and stick to a manual gearbox?
MARIUS DE KLERK, Cape Town
Answer: We also had our doubts when the DSG technology was first launched, but we have since received very few complaints regarding the reliability of the unit. However, the manual could potentially be a safer choice because it employs simpler, proven technology.
That said, the DSG gearbox is good at preventing over-revving and clutch abuse, which are both likely on a hot hatch. The sheer number of DSG-fitted GTIs on our roads should also tell you something. If you find a well cared-for example, you should be okay. It is more important who owned the vehicle and how it was cared for than the gearbox specification.