By on April 25, 2017

2017 Audi A4 Quattro rear

Audi’s increasingly mature A4 stands to see less front-wheel motivation in the coming model year.

As the compact sedan’s clout and content grows, Audi plans to take one drivetrain configuration off the table come 2018. The move will mean that Quattro all-wheel drive will soon cover a larger slice of the lineup, but it could also mean crossing the 200-horsepower threshold in an A4 is about to become more expensive.

According to senior pricing analyst Alex Bernstein, Audi will drop the front-drive version of the A4 equipped with the 252-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo four. That leaves the base A4 Ultra — introduced for 2017 with a 190 hp 2.0-liter and a 31 mile-per-gallon combined fuel economy rating — as the only FWD A4 model.

The gas-sipping Ultra comes solely with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, while the uplevel A4 engine will still offer the choice of a six-speed manual in addition to the DCT. An Audi spokesperson has confirmed these specs.

The move to scrap the FWD/uplevel engine combo will likely mean a greater purchase price for buyers looking to harness that model’s 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. While the less powerful Ultra carries a base MSRP of $34,900 plus a $950 destination charge for 2017, moving up to a bigger engine in entry-level trim means spending an extra $2,400. Adding all-wheel drive to the package adds an extra $2,100, for a pre-delivery MSRP of $39,400.

It’s quite unlikely that Audi would lower the price of the higher output 2018 Quattro model to bridge the gap. CarsDirect claims orders for 2018 models should begin late this month or in early May.

[Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars]

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21 Comments on “Changes to the Audi A4 Lineup Mean Less Front-wheel Drive for 2018...”

  • avatar

    “The move will mean that Quattro all-wheel drive will soon cover a larger slice of the lineup”

    I thought every Audi post about MY94 was Quattro? Was this a USDM only thing?

  • avatar

    The FWD model is basically nonexistent in the US anyway, at least in the Northeast. I doubt it’s much more common even in Florida or CA.

  • avatar

    The FWD version is hardly sold anywhere. It exists solely so that Audi can advertise a lower “Starting at” price.

    • 0 avatar

      “The FWD version is hardly sold anywhere. It exists solely so that Audi can advertise a lower “Starting at” price.”

      ^ This. At least at my Audi service center/dealer, when I’m there, I take a look around the lot (and by now, the sales people all know I’m just looking), and off the top of my head, I can’t think of a model on the sales lot that didn’t have a ‘quattro’ tag on it.

      This is roughly the luxury brand tactic as the regular cab manual truck, or base spec mainstream model with a no packages and a manual – sure, they DO exist, and that is the MSRP of those models, but good luck finding one, or having your dealer get one in for you without trying hard to make a deal on something already in stock.

      And then they wonder why people HATE the car buying process.

      • 0 avatar

        Strangely enough, while that’s definitively been the case for the A4, I don’t think it’s been the case for the A6. Lots of mid-2000 generation A6es sans quattro in upstate NY.

  • avatar

    Will Audi be “last man standing” when it comes to manual transmissions?

    • 0 avatar

      “2018 Audi TT RS: 400 Horses, No Manual Gearbox”

      Not promising. They have been surprisingly stalwart with the original TTRS being a manual only US Spec. Having a bang-up DSG doesn’t help…

      My money is on the BMW M-line.

    • 0 avatar

      Nah, Mazda will win this battle. If Mazda won’t offer a manual on the Miata, might as well just close up shop.

    • 0 avatar

      Real question here is which of the two remaining manual-transmission markets will hold out longer – low-end economy cars with no options or upmarket sporty cars?

      • 0 avatar

        I’m going to vote sporty. People who buy those get them because they *want* a manual, and eliminating them is just going to send those drivers shopping used.

        For economy cars, eventually some bean counter will decide it doesn’t make sense to invest in the design, testing and tooling for two engine/transmission combos and axe the manual in favor of greater profitability and economies of scale. I see that happening way sooner.

  • avatar

    You can also get A4 Ultra FWD in the Premium Plus trim starting at $38.7k. Is that also going away?

    If not that is probably why Audi won’t lower the price of the higher output engine with AWD. The cheap A4 buyers would have to decide what they value: goodies or more power and AWD.

  • avatar

    It was the Ingolstadt Corolla.

  • avatar

    Here in Connecticut there are basically no FWD Audi’s at all already. This seems more like a simplification of the line up than anything else.

  • avatar

    I bought an A4 a couple of months ago and there was exactly one front-wheel drive A4 available across the five dealerships I talked to. Of course I’m in Colorado, which may skew things a bit.

    Of course, the A4 is unusual for this segment in that the 2wd versions are FWD rather than RWD. The main reason I went with the Quattro version was because it’s the only way to get an A4 with a rear-wheel drive bias, not because I felt I needed all four wheels driven.

  • avatar

    Isn’t the “new” Quattro system basically a 99.9%-of-the-time FWD system anyway? The only time power is sent to the rear wheels is when slippage is detected – which in many climates might be a couple of times per year? All the rest of the time, your expensive German car handles like a pig?

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