I'm looking at replacing mine too at some point. This is what I needed to hear even though I didn't want to hear it. I was hoping for a way to remove without removing so much, but it's not worth the risk. I guess I'll have to have windshield replacement on standby when I get to point of replacing mine.I just changed my headliner.
When I do this again on my next VAG car, it will be windscreen out first time no questions asked, so much easier and it just come right out without risk of damage. And a windscreen is not that much after all……at $360 it is not worth the heart ache and very likely damage that will happen with an imperfect finish.
In reflection I think that the advice in the original factory manuals came from a CAD exercise and untested in the real world. It only misses out by a little but its all the little easy to damage edges that need to pass out the hole where the door once was. It may be OK if the dash is also missing but not with it.