I'm smiling reading the above as my last stick shift experience was driving Phil's present Jetta TDI. Admittedly I am out of practice driving stick, but for 12 years drove them as my daily driver. I had a very difficult time adjusting to the TDI for the few hours I had it, believe me, nodbody would have wanted to be a passenger. Perhaps it was the different torque curves produced by a diesel, but, I would have had a tough time buying that package from my one experience. Phil did drive it as the pro that he is, so, my bad experience does not necessarily reflect on the quality of the VW product.
I've never given any thought to the premise that cruise control would produce less mpg, so, the above conclusion seems strange. Is there real data on this? The only time I would fault cruise control for mpg is when climbing long hills and feeling the engine/transmission work harder, when, I would have just backed-off.