Canadian drivers want all-wheel drive. Some also like manual transmissions for the added control and connection that shifting your own gears adds to the driving experience. But what if you want all-wheel drive and a manual transmission? Well, there aren't many choices left on that list, and most of the choices that exist are very similar models from just a couple of manufacturers. We think those automakers should be applauded, so here's a list of every new car you can buy with AWD and a manual transmission.
BMW 440i xDrive $59,300
While the new 3 Series from BMW has arrived stick-free, the 4 Series coupe hasn't yet seen that same redesign. This means that you can still get one with AWD and a six-speed manual transmission. Even better, it's not the base model car, it's the 440i. That means a 3.0L twin-turbo inline-six that puts out 320 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque. Or spend another few grand and get the M Power Kit with M Performance exhaust that boosts it to 350 and 370, and adds a tremendous growl to the note. The adaptive suspension lets you keep things stiff when you're going fast, and soften when you're trying to dodge winter potholes. This one could go away as soon as next year, so act now if this is your jam.
Porsche 911 $129,000
When the latest generation of Porsche's 911 arrived, there was no manual gearbox to be found. Fortunately, it is coming soon. You'll soon be able to get a seven-speed, three-pedal Porsche 911 S or 4S. Even better, it costs the same as the DSG but comes with the Sport Chrono pack, rev-matching, and a steering wheel drive-mode selector as well as a mechanical limited-slip rear. If those two choices aren't enough for you, then Porsche is still selling all of the last-gen cars, which come with that same manual box and a wider range of prices and models to choose from, all the way to the 450 hp twin-turbo Carrera 4 GTS. It's one of the best sports car experiences around, and Porsche has made sure to keep the manual for at least a bit longer.
Subaru Crosstrek $23,795
You don't need to spend a ton of money to get AWD and a manual transmission. In fact, there are more budget choices than there are expensive ones, thanks to automakers like Subaru. It makes sense that the one manufacturer to put AWD standard in all (but one) of its cars would also make the stick available. The Crosstrek was all-new for 2018, offering a sort of crossover-lite experience for those who want extra height and ruggedness without committing fully to the large size of the crossover. It's an Imprezza with some extra height, some extra plastic cladding, and an extra gear in the gearbox. The first one makes the ride softer when the road gets bumpy, as well as adding some bad-road capability through extra ground clearance. The last should help with both fuel economy and acceleration, letting you choose how much to motivate this 2.0L boxer-four's 152 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque.
Subaru Impreza $19,995
Ok, maybe it's nearly the same car as the Crosstrek, but we think they're different enough that they'd get two different types of customers. Plus for just under $20k, this is the cheapest AWD vehicle you can get with a manual transmission. This one comes as two versions, a sedan and a hatchback. Both get the same 2.0L flat-four as the Crosstrek, but these are lower, a bit firmer, and have much less grey plastic on the outside. The Imprezas are about 150 kg lighter than the Crosstrek, too. If you're on a budget, but want winter grip and summer fun, this one's just about impossible to beat.
Subaru WRX/STI $29,995
Subaru's performance twins keep the stick alive in the hot compact sedan segment. The rally-inspired brand might not be in the World Rally Championship anymore, but that hasn't made these forest-ready cars any less fun. The WRX gets a 2.0L turbo flat-four making 268 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, and the STI gets a 2.5 with 310 and 290. With a six-speed manual, a close-ratio one for the STI, these cars let you get plenty of boost as you grab for the next gear. And with Subaru's long-travel suspension, these ones are perfect for when roads are slippery and broken up, but you still want to have a fun drive. Once things warm up, that AWD system is ready for long four-wheel drifts. On the track, of course, once they reopen in warm weather.
Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen $25,900
One of the last of the real station wagons, the Golf Sportwagen also offers a six-speed manual and 4Motion all-wheel drive. Picking AWD means you get a 168 hp 1.8L turbo-four that's older than the FWD-only 1.4, but offers much more power and torque. Despite offering up to 1,883 L of space, as much as or more than many larger crossovers, this still feels like a regular Golf inside. It still drives like one, too, meaning it's one of the better-handling cars in the segment, so whether your low-traction environment is a winter wonderland or a sunny back road, you'll enjoy every bit of it a little more knowing you took one of the last AWD manual cars out there.
Volkswagen Golf Alltrack $31,200
The Alltrack is to the Sportwagen as the Crosstrek to Impreza. It's the taller one, with special bumpers and grey or silver accents like fender flares to give it a more rugged look. But more importantly, the suspension has been raised about 20 mm, giving the Alltrack slightly more ground clearance if you're heading down a dirt road. It's far from being a rock-crawler, but it could be the difference between scrape and smooth when you're headed to the lake, or just trying to clear a snowbank. To help take advantage of the AWD system, the Alltrack also gets off-road driving modes to change how power is directed and to adjust throttle response. Plus a hill descent control mode if dropping into first isn't enough to navigate down that slippery slope.
Volkswagen Golf R $42,495
Last but certainly not least on this list is another performance model. It's a real hot hatch, offering up 288 hp from a 2.0L turbo-four, getting power to all four wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. It's lower than the standard Golf, on big and sticky 19-inch tires and a stiffer suspension to help you carve corners in all conditions. Here the AWD gives you more grip for acceleration and it helps keep the car planted in corners. While a front-drive hot hatch can see the nose push out when you hit the gas coming out of a corner, sending power to the rear helps keep things in balance. Think of the Golf R as a GTI that's grown up and gotten faster, and you'll get most of the idea.
We know that this is a list of cars with all-wheel drive, but we'd be remiss in not mentioning the following models. They're trucks and SUVs with 4x4 systems (slightly different from all-wheel drive) but those still drive all four wheels and, most importantly, they offer you a manual option.
Jeep offers the Compass with one single manual transmission and four-wheel-drive option. Get the Sport trim and the 2.4L Tigershark engine and you can tick the three-pedal box. It's not the low-range equipped Active Drive Low system of the automatic Trailhawk trim, but that's probably fine for most Compass buyers. After all, while this is still capable, it's not a rock-crawling Wrangler. There is 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque in this small crossover and, along with the six-speed manual, is enough to make it one of the more involving small crossovers to drive.
The pickup truck from Jeep offers some of the best off-road capability on the market. It also offers a pickup truck experience unlike anything else, with the ability to fold the windshield flat and remove the roof and doors. It also comes with a six-speed manual to go along with the 285-hp 3.6L V6 and four-wheel drive. For those who want maximum control for their off-roading, the stick choice gives you that option. It can also tow up to just over 2,000 kg when equipped with the stick, though that's slightly less than the automatic version. But, you can choose from any of the available trims with the manual gearbox option.
This isn't surprising because the Gladiator is based on the Wrangler, but the classic Jeep is also available with a stick shift. The Wrangler comes with a 2.0L turbo-four, a 3.6L V6, and the same V6 with a mild-hybrid system, but the six-speed manual is only offered with the standard V6. Still, 285 hp is nothing to laugh at, and the manual is available on every trim of Wrangler from base Sport to loaded and ready-to-rock-crawl Rubicon, in both two-door and four-door Unlimited body styles. The Wrangler is far from being a car, but thanks to the ability to go almost anywhere and expose you to more of the outdoors than anything other than its sibling the Gladiator, it might offer more sport than most of those sports cars.
Toyota's Tacoma compact pickup is the only conventional pickup (the open-top Gladiator is far from a conventional pickup) on sale now that offers buyers a manual gearbox option with 4x4. You just need to be careful which model of the Tacoma you want to make sure it's available for you. Tacoma offers a manual transmission for 2020 along with the 278-hp V6 as the four-door Double Cab with a short bed and only on base and off-road-ready TRD Pro trims. It's also available on the base trim with the extended cab which Toyota calls Access Cab. Manual transmission Tacomas can tow up to 2,950 kg, with a 500 kg payload, just like the automatic transmission versions.