By on September 22, 2016

2017-audi a4

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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52 Comments on “Audi Saves the Manuals (for Luxury Segment Bragging Rights)...”


  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    40 large. **sigh**

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    The current Audi shift arrangement is nonsensically RNPD.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Yay! I would absolutely love one and thank goodness it’s offered in quattro. How disappointing would it be if it were FWD. Unfortunately, my wife hates manual transmissions, they don’t like her much either and she has been begging me ever since we got married to get an automatic. We will see who wins the next round.

    • 0 avatar

      Why wouldn’t you go FWD? You have less driveline loss with FWD vs AWD. It would make for a lighter car, too. I don’t understand the obsession with AWD. I seriously don’t get it.

      • 0 avatar
        thegamper

        A FWD A4 may very well be a satisfying car to drive, but I do like the added traction the AWD gives to engines in this power range or higher. Its difficult to put that power to the ground effectively in FWD at least in aggressive launch situations. Adding rear wheel spin is great for accelerating through corners and for “play” of all sorts. In daily driving, you’re right, wouldn’t matter much, if at all. Its a preference that lends itself to more fun in my opinion.

        • 0 avatar
          manny_c44

          On wet streets there is a big difference I think. Even with brand new summer tires you can’t really put the power down out of uphill corners in a FWD setup (even on a car with 150hp).

          Also after about 250 HP, FWD is at it’s limits, barring a lot of computer intervention. And then driving on greasy or slippery streets is just annoying.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Sadly, FWD Audis are probably even more weight-crippled than normal FWD cars, because Volkswagen Group slings the engine way out front of the axle (so that the longitude transmission can be directly in line with the axle).

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        RWD forever.

        If I’m going to live in Florida I might as well enjoy the perks.

        Does Quattro at least have a RWD bias?

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Lol, not at all. FWD bias all the way. Max 50% to rear wheels only in very slippy circumstances.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Why can Audi never be cool?

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            The answer lies within the VW balance sheet somewhere.

          • 0 avatar
            Nick_515

            What? Unless it changed recently, or it’s the non-torsen version in non-longitudinal setups like the A3 etc, Quattro is precisely the opposite of your statement, CoreyDL.

            Mark, a FWD A4 is a rather sad creature. They were also shof with CVT in the previous gen, which I actually know nothing about. Because of their porky noses, they’re only good drives because of rear-biased quattro.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Please read about Quattro Ultra.

            http://blog.caranddriver.com/quattro-ultra-audis-new-more-efficient-awd-system/

          • 0 avatar
            tedward

            Coreydl

            Is that the case now? I haven’t been keeping up with audi but they were 40/60 full time for a while now with the torsen setup I believe. My buddy retrofitted that torque split in an older 50/50 drivetrain with basically an aluminum spacer. Of course, it was an absurdly boosted 1.8t application (ultrasport avant) with a basically one off turbo and ginormous tire fitment so I was never able to honestly feel the difference. Never told him that of course.

          • 0 avatar
            White Shadow

            Incorrect. I have a quattro A5 and I can guarantee you that it’s RWD biased.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            There is a new Quattro version, which you’ll need to note above.

          • 0 avatar
            White Shadow

            I know all about the “new” quattro. I read up on it when announced in the upcoming AllRoad. What you said is incorrect. It’s not 50% max to the rears only in very slippery conditions.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            So it’s RWD biased?

          • 0 avatar
            s_a_p

            that is only true of the Haldex (Transverse engine, e.g. GTI, A3) AWD. The B8 Torsen AWD (logitudinal) can do 60/40 RWD bias.

            Edit: I had a 2014 A4 that I recently traded in on a 2015 Grand Cherokee SRT. However, that A4 fully convinced me of the benefits of Awd even though I live in Houston. During heavy rainfall, previous vehicles used to slip and slide around, but never happened with the A4. The GC can get a bit slippery in standing water but that is due to the 295 P-Zeros..

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            “Incorrect. I have a quattro A5 and I can guarantee you that it’s RWD biased.”

            I’m not sure this is right?

          • 0 avatar
            White Shadow

            No, but it isn’t just reactive (slip), but it’s also predictive and proactive. That’s what I read about the way it works. Your statement was that the rear only engages under slip. That’s incorrect. I should have been more clear that I wasn’t talking about the front/rear bias, although the old system is obviously not the same as the new.

          • 0 avatar
            Nick_515

            Trolley Corey.

            I read your link.

            So things HAVE changed recently, yet you presented the Quattro Ultra as if it were a Haldex unit in a CRV. It’s not because it engages ahead of time in multiple situations, including simply engaging sport mode before you even drive. Per the article: “Audi will engage the rear axle when the stability-control system is in Sport mode”

            This is cool technology. After a decade of quattro, they developed something new.

            Sure, you could argue enthusiast driving requires rwd(-based) dynamics, and there’s too much of fwd in this newfangled tech.

            But you just wanted to put it down. hence the opener.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Dear Nick,

            Chillax a bit. I looked it up AFTER I said what I said, because that’s actually how I thought it worked. I’ve owned three Audis.

            At the end of the day though, it makes no difference to me whether an Audi is FWD or RWD biased.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Mark,
        A serious question: I always thought that if you were going to get an Audi, you should go quattro. Otherwise, save $10K and by an Accord. Where is the flaw in my logic?

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        Because traction. I will never again own a car that has the combination of FWD and a decent amount of low-end torque. It’s just no fun. Torque steer and wheel hop aren’t my thing, I suppose.

        • 0 avatar
          Nick_515

          VoGo and White Shadow,

          I kinda of disagree. Yes quattro is Audi DNA and you should not get one without it.

          But that’s not why you pay the premium over the accord. It’s the interior quality and teutonic feel.

          Those may not have been important to Baruth who made the switch, but he never denied their existence. Honda has its own advantages, being sprightly, v6+stick, and reliability.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          White Shadow,

          What did you use to drive? I remember driving a supercharged Grand Prix that was exactly as you describe, but a late 9-5 with more power and torque won’t have those issues at all. Same thing with the current FWD Volvos that have over 300 ft/lb of torque.

          • 0 avatar
            White Shadow

            My last FWD car was a 3rd gen Acura TL (with a stick) and it was a really nice car, but try to drive it in a “sporting” fashion and the FWD absolutely ruins the fun, especially trying to make a quick stoplight getaway.

        • 0 avatar
          blppt

          +1000 on that. You couldnt even launch my old 2.0T CC from a stop light with moderate throttle without everybody thinking you were trying to race them (wheelslip). And thats a rather mild engine compared to the new gen EA888s in the new A4.

          And forget about grades in the winter—with no LSD, it was one-wheel hell.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        Mark, as a guy who I believe grew up in an area of Canada with real winter and studded tires, I never took you for one of those who didn’t understand that real AWD/4WD on good tires in winter conditions is the most fun you can have driving on public roads in a reasonably legal manner. Well worth it if you’re financially comfortable. It really isn’t that big of an expense in life.

        I’m sad to hear that the A4 is no longer a fully-mechanical AWD system. I hope the system is transparent and remains fully functional with the nannies off. That’s the only way my B8 S4-owning buddies drive those things in the winter. Being manuals as well, I expect they’ll just keep them for as long as they possibly can.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          Canadians have figured-out that FWD is all you need in the snow. It’s inherently stable, and it rarely gets stuck.

          If you want to have fun in a FWD car in the snow, turn off the stability control and try lift-throttle oversteer in corners. It’s legal, fun and fast.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            Of course. I’m a fairly practical guy, so FWD on factory-studded Gislaveds is all I need to get around. I don’t drive with stability or traction control so I still have plenty of fun. Far more than most who drive AWD vehicles.

            But that’s not the point. The point is, that there’s a certain pleasure in driving a vehicle that does 0-60 in well under ten seconds and happily goes sideways while doing it that you can’t get in a vehicle that takes 20 seconds to do the same while only being capable of power understeer. Even if you don’t care about that, it’s the difference between sitting frustrated for a few minutes waiting for an opportunity to slowly merge into cross traffic and holding people up versus going within seconds and instantly being up to speed.

            Why do people think that a car with a 0-60 over ten seconds for eight months of the year is unacceptable, but a vehicle with a 0-60 under twenty seconds during the other four months of the year is unnecessary? All else being equal, I’d take a 150 hp real-AWD car over a 300 hp FWD car without a second thought.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            My brother had a friend’s battered old B5 A4 (Quattro, 2.8 V6, 5spd) in the shop for some suspension work and we took it out for a drive in a big snow storm afterwards. Super fun, even on very shoddy all seasons that Audi would hook up and move out. Is AWD necessary? No probably not, but for someone who lives in snow country and likes to have a bit of fun, (or really needs to get somewhere in truly inclement weather) a good AWD system is well worth the money IMO.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Quattro is good. I drove around my A8 in a snow storm in Indiana a few years ago for some entertainment. The only other things on the roads were some four wheelers and a snow plow or two.

            It’s great to be on several inches of snow, and feel the car pivot around a turn.

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        Very true about fwd. After driving awd for about a year now I don’t forsee going back to fwd or rwd. In addition I test drove a 2017 A4 Quattro two weeks ago. Fantastic car and it didn’t have that average sedan feel. The allroad wagon version is on my radar.

  • avatar
    manny_c44

    Why not in the S3 or A3 or TT? I am almost banging my head on the table…

  • avatar
    Fred

    I was disapointed the new A3 was a sedan and no manual. I had the old A4 on my list to get a manual. Alas it was too more money than I wanted to spend and not easy to find.

  • avatar
    TTCat

    Forget the A4, where’s my option for a manual on the Mk3 TT? I was going to finally step out of my Mk1, but one drive of the DCT only 2016 and I decided to change the timing belt on my current 6spd stick and keep on flogging it for a few more years…

    • 0 avatar
      never_follow

      The decision to make the TTRS DCT only is the real puzzle. That engine demands better.

      I also think that they should be wedging the 5 banger into every S car, or at least offer it as an option. It sounds AWESOME.

      • 0 avatar
        TTCat

        never_follow: Yeah, I drove a Mk2 TTRS with a stick recently as a potential CPO purchase – a fantastic drive-train indeed, but just as the Mk2 is dynamically superior to my Mk1, the Mk3s are yet another step beyond the Mk2s, so I really wanted the new chasis – I would have been perfectly happy with the current Mk3 TTS with a stick, but the DCT just ruins the car…

  • avatar
    tedward

    They would have had a sale in my extended family if they’d been a few weeks quicker on the draw. I’m not convinced this is a bad idea. My neighborhood is full of gti manuals and I’m pretty certain almost all of those owners are coming down from luxury or entry brands for the transmission. None of those, needless to say, are one car families.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      “My neighborhood is full of gti manuals”

      You live across from a dealer?

      “I’m pretty certain almost all of those owners are coming down from luxury or entry brands for the transmission.”

      Is this true, or just wild assumptions?

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        “Miffy, you traded in your Bentley for a Volkswagon GTI?”

        “Yes. Even though I budgeted $250K for a new car, I realized that I really missed the engagement of shifting for myself, like I had as a youngster with my Scirocco.”

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        Yeah actually true from what I see around here, and from the many, many older people who stop my wife and I to ask us about our gti. They all seem drawn to the manual, and want the theme is usually that their current car isn’t replaceable with a manual. I see at least ten gti’s a day, no exaggeration at all. Hell, my MIL has gotten two notes on the windshield of hers already and I don’t even think it has plates yet. She, amusingly enough, gives them my phone number.

        Sometimes I think saab and volvo did 80% of their business here, 9-5 wagon sticks aren’t rare in the slightest even now. As I’ve mentioned before in other discussions e46 Xi wagons are almost common on the used market with manuals.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      Count me in as one of those new GTI owners who chose it primarily because of the drivetrain. I’m just not ready to give up my manual transmission.

      I have a lot of seat time in the A3 and S3, and I had the previous generation wagon-only stick shift A3. When it was time to move into something else, as much as I wanted to like the A3/S3 they were simply too sterile for my liking. Great cars, just…sterile. The GTI gave me a smile that the A3/S3 didn’t.

      I tried to convince myself into an A4 with manual, but every time I drove one it just left me cold. I’m very interested to try the new one to see if they’ve livened it up a bit. The previous generation A4 was a very nice car, but did little to keep me interested.

      Almost one year in on my GTI and I still look forward to hopping into that thing every morning. Love it.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        Me too. I try not to be too effusive about it as it’s also the most expensive car I’ve ever owned, so I feel like it should be the best as well. Screw that though, I drive a ton of cars, the current gti kills it, way more so than the previous two generations.

        My favorite comparison isn’t even mine to make. I know a guy with a 650 (executive I think) who makes angry comments about how much more comfortable and sporty our car is than his $100k+ bmw. The run flats from hell are surely a factor bit still…

        I’m so torn on the suspension though. It shouldn’t be as pleasing to me with such soft springs, and yet I find myself liking it. I might actually let this suspension live out its natural lifespan before making moves.

  • avatar
    vstudio

    Thank you, Audi. You are back on my shopping list now! More power, less weight, quattro, and stick – what a great car to own! I had the previous generation A4, then S4 and would recommend them to anyone. The stick is super easy to drive, the clutch is perfect, and the character of the car changes so much when you have a stick.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    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.

  • avatar
    Nookieman

    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.

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