Audi Saves the Manuals (for Luxury Segment Bragging Rights)

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
audi saves the manuals for luxury segment bragging rights

The dwindling supply of new vehicles offering a row-your-own driving experience spurs fewer tears than before, but the three-pedal setup isn’t dead yet.

In fact, offering a manual transmission is still worthy of boasting about through official channels. As it rolls out the 2017 A4, Audi wants you to know there’ll be an option to ditch the PRNDL pattern on all-wheel-drive models, allowing spirited motorists the increasingly rare opportunity to take full control of their gear changes.

Oh, and those other guys? Yeah, they don’t offer one. Audi made sure to remind us of that.

Finding a manual transmission in Audi’s lineup isn’t as easy as it once was. Currently, the only models offering a stick are the A5 Sport and S5 — hardtops only — and the A4’s hotter sister, the S4. By dropping a six-speed manual into the 2017 A4 Quattro, Audi can brand it as the only entry-level, AWD luxury sedan available with a stick shift.

The automaker doesn’t expect it to be a big draw, but that’s not really the point. The option bolsters the A4’s sporty credentials and boosts the brand’s reputation among the Big German Three. An available Sport package helps this.

“While we don’t typically disclose take rates, I can confirm that the manual has a significantly lower take rate than the S tronic (automatic),” said Amanda Koons, product communications specialist with Audi of America, in an email to TTAC.

When asked if a manual could make into other A4s, Koons said “we are not currently considering offering a manual transmission on any other drivetrains.”

So, it’s Quattro-only, stick fans. For the time being, anyway — consumer demand (or lack of it) could tip Audi’s hand to offer more stick models, or have the option disappear after a year or two. Sadly, history has shown that the latter scenario is more likely.

Audi hasn’t grabbed something old off of the parts pile, either. The new six-speed manual boats “extensive” use of magnesium and features a lighter clutch, open gear wheels and hollow shafts, shaving 35.3 pounds off the weight of the previous unit.

Connected to the transmission, be it manual or automatic, is Audi’s trusty turbocharged 2.0-liter TSFI four-cylinder, generating 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. The Environmental Protection Agency has yet to issue fuel economy figures for the powertrain combination.

The automaker claims a 5.7 second 0-60 mph time for manual-equipped 2017 A4 Quattros, seven-tenths of a second quicker than the past generation. Base models will retail for $40,350, including destination.

Olive branch or not, we’ll take it.

[Image: Audi of America]

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  • Jkross22 Jkross22 on Sep 23, 2016

    Hmm, just went to Audi's site to build an A4 with a manual and quattro and can't seem to figure out how to do so.

  • Nookieman Nookieman on Dec 30, 2017

    I currently daily drive a 2011 Audi S5 V8 with a manual trans. Love it. I’d like to see more power offered in this A4, but at least the manual will let me use what is there. Audi may seem pricey, but my six year old coupe still looks, feels and drives like a new car. In contrast, parts were falling off my prior Mercedes from the second week from new and for what it cost to maintain that POS, I could buy this A4. It’s far easier to rationalize high initial cost when a car holds together over time. My Audi S5 has proven superior in this aspect by a wide margin.

  • Tassos I also want one of the idiots who support the ban to explain to me how it will work.Suppose sometime (2035 or later) you cannot buy a new ICE vehicle in the UK.Q1: Will this lead to a ICE fleet resembling that of CUBA, with 100 year old '56 Chevys eventually? (in that case, just calculate the horrible extra pollution due to keeping 100 year old cars on the road)Q2: Will people be able to buy PARTS for their old cars FOREVER?Q3: Will people be allowed to jump across the Channel and buy a nice ICE in France, Germany (who makes the best cars anyway), or any place else that still sells them, and then use it in the UK?
  • Tassos Bans are ridiculous and undemocratic and smell of Middle Ages and the Inquisition. Even 2035 is hardly any better than 2030.The ALMIGHTY CONSUMER should decide, not... CARB, preferably WITHOUT the Government messing with the playing field.And if the usual clueless idiots read this and offer the tired "But Government subsidizes the oil industry too", will they EVER learn that those MINISCULE (compared to the TRILLIONS of $ size of this industry) subsidies were designed to help the SMALL Oil producers defend themselves against the "Big Oil" multinationals. Ask ANY major Oil co CEO and he will gladly tell you that you can take those tiny subsidies and shove them.
  • Dusterdude The suppliers can ask for concessions, but I wouldn’t hold my breath . With the UAW they are ultimately bound to negotiate with them. However, with suppliers , they could always find another supplier ( which in some cases would be difficult, but not impossible)
  • AMcA Phoenix. Awful. The roads are huge and wide, with dedicated lanes for turning, always. Requires no attention to what you're doing. The roads are idiot proofed, so all the idiots drive - they have no choice, because everything is so spread out.
  • Leonard Ostrander Pet peeve: Drivers who swerve to the left to make a right turn and vice versa. They take up as much space as possible for as long as possible as though they're driving trailer trucks or school busses. It's a Kia people, not a Kenworth! Oh, and use your turn signals if you ever figure out where you're going.