By on August 17, 2018

The manual transmission continues to die a slow, lingering death. Audi is now eliminating the manual option from its entire U.S. lineup, not that the majority if its customers will actually miss it. While the 2018 Audi A4 can still be had with a six-speed manual, the refreshed 2019 model will not. The same will be true for the less-popular A5 coupe.

It’s a bum deal for enthusiasts but it’s difficult to come down too hard on Audi. The A4’s seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic isn’t exactly a terrible transmission and, considering it outsells the manual by a huge margin, it doesn’t make financial sense for Audi to ship anything else across the ocean.

Applying that logic hasn’t make us feel better about the situation, though. 

According to Car and Driver, only about 5 percent of A4 customers in the United States picked the six-speed manual over the DTC. That’s actually more than expected, if we’re truly being honest with ourselves. However, the outlet did note the A4 was one of the few present-day vehicles where rowing your own gears could be faster if you’re exceptionally handy (er, footy?) with a clutch. It recorded the manual model’s zero-to-60 time at 5.1 seconds, a tenth of a second quicker than the dual-clutch A4.

If you’re quick enough, you can definitely still score a leftover 2018 A4 with a manual. Thankfully, Audi saw fit to deploy it on every trim level with Quattro all-wheel drive so you won’t have to settle for a front-drive base-trimmed turd. The A4’s 2019 refresh is also so incredibly subtle that nobody but you and a handful of Audi aficionados will have any awareness of your purchasing last year’s model.

[Image: Audi]

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86 Comments on “Audi’s U.S. Lineup Will Be Free of Manual Gearboxes In 2019...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Pour one out.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick_515

      Nah… just got a Honda Accord, it’s better. thornmark said so, and he had SOURCES.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Well, it was also said that Honda is now far worse than Chrysler’s darkest days. Pretty sure the truth is somewhere in between that and “Honda can do no wrong”.

        My cousin’s wife has had her bought-new Accord Sport for well over a year now, its been absolutely 100% problem free. Pretty sure Chrysler at its worst couldn’t have accomplished that, nor would that product feel as solid and well-built, quiet and refined as her Accord.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    So now everyone gets to enjoy the $600 fluid change on their dual clutch automatic every 30,000 miles.

  • avatar
    Fred

    I loved my manual 2007 A3. I’d like to buy another Audi, but mostly it’s the price that keeps me away, and now this.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Really?

    Jeez. I mean can we start counting models on two hands yet?

    BMW will be right behind them I’m sure. Or maybe it will live on M cars but for the rest of us plebs it will be basically dead.

    Excluding BMW and “sports cars” are they any truly decently powered, “higher end” cars left where you can get a manual? Meaning not a pleb brand with FWD.

    Cuz Acura is gone. Audi. Pretty sure Mercedes. Jaguar? Probably only in F Type (sports car). What does Infiniti look like?

    Otherwise I think we’re left with penalty boxes, the Honda Accord, base trim Mazda6, GTI…. And?

    I guess dying sedans probably go hand in hand with manual death. Who’s gonna buy a stick crossover.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      This comes on the heels of the official announcement that the upcoming G20 3-series will drop the manual for the US market as well.

      • 0 avatar
        Jerome10

        Wow I missed that.

        Though bmw has been basically dead to me the last 5 years anyway. So who really cares. Cars drive like trash anyway now, what’s the loss of a manual…

      • 0 avatar
        nels0300

        And also comes on the heels of Genesis launching the G70 available with a manual….

        And Hyundai offering manual Elantra Sports, GT, and launching the Veloster N while Ford kills Focus/Fiesta ST in the US.

        HYUNDAI. HYUNDAI has you covered.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        That’s too bad; from what I’ve read of the G20 it’s dropping weight and it sounds like BMW is trying to get some of the driver-focused design back (working on the steering, making the msport suspension mean something).

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      With the demise of the Forester manual, I believe the last stick CUV in the US that’s not a subcompact is the Jeep Compass.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      I’m not sure what your definition of “sports car” or “higher end” car is, but the Mustang, Challenger and Camaro are all offered with manual transmissions, have decent power, and are not FWD plebmobiles.

      Personally I don’t consider muscle cars to be “sports cars”, and the top trim models can be pretty nice. While none of these have a “higher end” badge, you include Acura on your list and that arguably isn’t a “higher end” brand either.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Well, he thinks the GTI is a “penalty box”, so a lowly American coupe is definitely out of the question.

        Btw, I’m pretty sure the Cadillac ATS is still available with a manual.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          The G70 manual “first drives” that I’m seeing one minor problem I have is that the manual deletes the vents for the rear seat passengers (probably because of the linkages that are required vs a joystick type shifter). That’s a problem if you want to carry rear seat passengers with any regularity.

          I also wish that the Charger had a manual as an option – even on just the base R/T trim level. Suitable for Dad duty and a stick shift would be a rare combo.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            Ouch. Not having rear vents in a sedan of that class is a mistake – carrying rear seat passengers is part of a sedan’s mission brief after all.

            Plenty of cars with a manual keep the rear vents. It’s lazy engineering from Hyundai.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    DSG>*

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    A4’s 0-60 is 5 seconds? Dayum. I didn’t realize those things were that fast.

    • 0 avatar
      tnk479

      They’re probably underrating the engine a bit, so that’s at least part of it, but yeah these things are quick.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      It isn’t just gearing and AWD producing a fast 0-60 for marketing purposes either. I think it’s C&D that times cars from a variety of speeds – A4 has barely believable numbers at just about any speed, including through the quarter mile.

  • avatar
    doublechili

    Not surprising since most Audi customers these days are not driving enthusiasts. Some day all of us MT people are going to be 80 years old driving cars with gigantic wings because that’s all there will be with MTs.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    The reason my 74 year-old Mom went back to Audi after an MDX was because it was one of the few higher-end cars offered with a manual transmission. She loved her first A4 because it was a stick and, “It was so great on the highway!” She didn’t know it had a sixth gear so, yeah, it must have been a passing machine at 120 KM/h in fifth… Her 2017 A4 will probably be her last car purchase – but now for TWO very good reasons.

    • 0 avatar
      tnk479

      Haha, love this!

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Somewhat related story: in the early 2000s my dad’s friend picked us up from the Tolmachevo airport in Novosibirsk in a nice shiny right hand drive Nissan Cefiro (JDM late 90s Maxima). He was really proud of this thing, his previous rides being an ancient Lada and ratty 1990s Volga. We’re zipping along and my brother the budding young car enthusiast who was maybe 13 at the time asks “hey why is your O/D off light on?” We told him about the little button on the shifter and what it did. Presto, the already very smooth Cefiro becomes even quieter and smoother at speed. This was the guy’s first automatic car, his take on only having two pedals was “it’s a car for invalids.”

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    “.. doesn’t make financial sense for Audi …”. And I say bull puckey. The logical conclusion is that each manufacturer makes one model, logically one trim level in one color. Europe will get two colors. Geez.

  • avatar
    KevinC

    How can we gauge the uptake on manuals, when the dealers basically quit stocking any ages ago? I realize they just respond to buying trends and stock accordingly, but jeez, you can’t buy it if it’s not on the lot and you don’t have 2-3 months to wait for an ordered car. This surely has to be accelerating the demise of the manual tranny. Makes me sad.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      Nobody “needs” to buy off the lot right away. If you’re willing to settle for an automatic that’s on the lot, you didn’t really want a manual anyway and have no one to blame but yourself.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      I suppose it is a positive feedback system, but this is all on the consumers because they initiated it. The dealers are only stocking what they believe they can sell, and the consumers are buying what they prefer to own.

      Both of my buddies with B8 S4s ordered their cars and waited a few months. One even had to drive his Acura Civic running on three cylinders during the wait. At both dealers, there was a manual S4 in stock but they ordered anyway to get them exactly the way they wanted. One got a minimalist version, the other loaded his right up. I suppose their decisions to order may have also encouraged dealers to quit stocking manuals.

      Though in the case of the first, it was the test drive that sold him. He loved how the new A4 looked so we test drove one with a manual but were unimpressed by the powertrain, suspension, and steering. The salesman later called and encouraged him to come back to take the S4 out of the showroom for a drive and that sold him. It’s a beautiful engine to have under your control. Instant torque everywhere and so smooth as the revs climb; the most refined powertrain I’ve operated. His purchase convinced the other to do the same the following year.

      It’s hard to imagine how anyone who truly prefers a vehicle with a manual would buy a brand new car with an automatic. A minor wait shouldn’t affect a decision on such a large purchase. The people I know who care enough about driving to want a manual spend years thinking about different vehicles before pulling the trigger. Anybody with the kind of disposable income for a new Audi can find other means of transportation or just buy a used car for temporary use if necessary.

      It’s also hard to imagine how any significant portion of the young driving population would want a manual. When most of us grew up, the manuals were cheaper, faster, more reliable, and more efficient than the automatics. It was worth investing the necessary time to master it. I’m not sure I’d argue that it is worth that effort anymore, unless you already have considerable experience or are passionate about older vehicles. It’s nobody’s fault that they’re dying. It’s just the natural progression toward automation. Our skills and interests are often based on things we were simply required to do at one point.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        These days it’s hard to even find a manual to test drive. I guess most companies still making them have enough of a reputation that I could drive the automatic and assume that the manual is a good one, but you still want to make sure the shifter is in easy reach with your seating position, the throws aren’t long and rubbery, the clutch engagement isn’t weird, rev hang isn’t a huge nuisance, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      This. A quick check of my local dealer shows 8 Golf R’s and not a single one is a manual. As you said, they’re going with what they perceive supply and demand is. But most people are just going to take what’s there for instant gratification. So if there’s no manuals available at retail dealers then no one’s going to buy manuals. Sure a few freaks will order them but those are very rare.

      Anyway, I know enthusiasts are a pretty hapless bunch right now. But I still think automakers are making a big mistake by basically crapping on them. They don’t buy cars in huge numbers but they also help build brand recognition.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        0/8 on manual Golf Rs in your area, and that’s on a model that VW claims has a 50% take rate with the manual: http :// http://www.thedrive.com/news/ 22980/2019-vw-golf-r-wont-be-offered-with-a-manual-transmission-in-some-markets

        Dealers have zero interest in working with anyone who wants a manual. They could sell them, especially on a Golf R, but they can’t be bothered to go after that customer. Let’s say the take rate is 50%; a dealer could order an automatic and manual Golf R and have a good shot at selling both relatively quickly. Even still, I think they are more likely to order the automatic Golf R and a couple of Tiguans instead of the manual Golf R.

        If a dealer has a manual anything on the lot, the manufacturer probably forced them to take it so manual enthusiast buyers can do exactly what you pointed out – build brand recognition.

        • 0 avatar
          Superdessucke

          Eventually, BMWs will be recommended not for their Driving Experience but because of their cup holder placement and Bluetooth integration.

          Superdessucke – 2018

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “They don’t buy cars in huge numbers but they also help build brand recognition.”

        I think this is far less than you think it is. mass-market car buyers don’t listen to enthusiasts either because enthusiasts come off as unhinged arrogant jerks.

        • 0 avatar
          Superdessucke

          Well, okay. But why am I, a mass market car buyer, gonna buy a pricey BMW X1.75 over a Ford Escape II if the Escape II has better cup holders and hooks up my smartphone faster? And it’s cheaper to boot?

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “The Ultimate Driving Machine” did more for BMW than a handful of noisy car geeks who can recite chassis codes from memory.

          • 0 avatar
            Superdessucke

            Yes they can recite chassis numbers, and they’re willing to pay $90,000 for a E30 M3 with 120k on the clock because it’s “pure.” They are insufferable at times, yes, but they are the ones who gave the ultimate driving machine its name. All I’m trying to say is that automakers are ignoring this at their own peril.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            no, marketing gave them that name under Bob Lutz.

          • 0 avatar
            Superdessucke

            So just run another ad campaign and all will be well huh? LOL!

            No, that tagline was once backed up by something – the word of people who loved cars. Now it really isn’t. Cars that earn their blessing trade for stratospheric sums (E30 M3). Cars that earn their scorn sell to the plebs for peanuts (E36 M3).

            I guess history will tell us which one of us is right but I think you’re going to eventually see BMW go the way of Pontiac if they’re not careful

  • avatar
    ThomasSchiffer

    The VWAG DSG is a marvelous transmission, probably the best automated transmission out there in my opinion.

    Having driven manuals for most of my life, I will not miss them. My last Audi, a 2007 A4 2.0 TDI Avant, had a manual transmission but I never viewed it as the ‘fun part’ of driving that car. It was a feature that was necessary for the operation of the vehicle. Even in Europe, where I live, manuals are slowly but surely disappearing from all but the cheapest budget-oriented cars; and even those are now offered with automatic transmission options.

    I am in the process of purchasing another family vehicle for my wife and it will most likely be the Skoda Octavia Combi vRS TDI, with DSG, of course.

    • 0 avatar
      ernest

      My wife had a Jetta tdi Sportwagen with the DSG Automatic and deeply disliked how it drove and shifted.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick_515

        two weeks into my first DSG experience. Engages weird at low speeds, though I think i’ve figured how to game it. The worst is when you back up to parallel park by just releasing the brake. it engages then immediately disengages by proceeding about a foot each time. It’s just like someone’s shifting for you, but really cautiously.

        Anything else above 5 mph and under duress… it’s the bees knees. Paddle shifters are super responsive.

        • 0 avatar
          ThomasSchiffer

          My experiences with the DSG in a handful of Volkswagen and Audi products has been rather good. But these are circa around 2016, when the transmission was most likely overhauled and improved. I found it very smooth, quick and intelligent in the sense that it was always in the correct gear.

  • avatar
    RSF

    A manual in an Audi doesn’t make sense anyways. I have to crush them whenever I see one (rarely) because they are difficult to sell.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Most Audi dealers are in urban/suburban locations. Their customers who buy (or lease)drive in soul-sucking stop and go traffic. I’m sure that Audi corporate would much rather have a three year old automatic coming in off a lease than a manual. Horrible traffic and lease residuals are two more factors in the manual’s downfall.

  • avatar
    hpycamper

    Another small step in the slide of cars to being just another appliance. Sigh…

  • avatar
    nels0300

    So is the Genesis G70 the only game in town now if you can’t afford an M car?

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      And the Cadillac ATS, though its now a coupe only and is not long for this world.

      • 0 avatar
        nels0300

        I’m a “manual only” type of guy and I applaud Hyundai from that standpoint, but from a product planning point of view, it’s kind of crazy they’re offering a G70 with a manual, but don’t have an SUV.

        How many “manual only” BMW / Audi people are there out there?

        Will the G70 bring any of those people into Genesis showrooms, or will they just give in and give up manuals?

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          What I’ve heard is the original plan for the G70 was to offer the manual as a “launch edition” and only build a set number. Now I’m hearing/reading that it will depend on the actual take rate for the manual whether production will continue.

          FWIW the manual trans being used is the one from the old Genesis coupe 2.0T, that made it fairly easy to put the combo into production. It also explains why the transmission wouldn’t be able to handle the output of the twin turbo 6.

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    I have owned Audis with manuals for seventeen years now, ten years with a TT, and seven with an A5.

    While my next car in a few years is expected to be a used S5 with a manual, I may have to look toward a BMW M4 instead. And I never wanted to be a BMW owner (thought I suppose my wife’s Mini Cooper S, also with a manual, is technically a BMW.)

  • avatar
    Robbie

    I have now had a valet ask me to park my car twice… they couldn’t drive stick shift. This is great, I get to park my new GTI myself.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    Jaguar dropped manual then began reintroducing them…. I’m thankful they did

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Last year, we gave away a nineteen year old Subaru with $240k miles. We had replaced the original clutch a year earlier. (It was still working but very thin.) The transmission was fine. How long will an Audi/VW DSG last? If it fails, how much to repair or replace?

    • 0 avatar
      ThomasSchiffer

      The DSG is a sophisticated transmission which most likely contains some wear and tear items that will eventually need replacing, especially since it is often combined with engines that make a lot of power and torque (and are probably driven in an aggressive manner).

      My former 2007 Audi A4 2.0 TDI Avant made it to 650,000 km and the original clutch (manual transmission) was replaced at around 330,000ish km if my memory does not let me down. This is not bad considering the hefty torque the engine made and the fact that this car was punished daily on the Autobahn at very high speeds. The new clutch cost me 800,- Euros which also included shop labor costs. I found this to be perfectly acceptable, especially since the new clutch lasted well beyond the 650,000 km mileage and never gave me any problems.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      That’s a silly thing to say. Why do you think the DSG won’t last as long as your Subaru’s transmission?

      DSG is an automated manual transmission. Works great. I would say its clutches will last longer than yours, because it eliminates the human factor and it rev matches as it downshifts. Perfectly, every time.

      During normal everyday driving, it’s also tuned such that it gently changes gears upward without any stress on the system.

      Differen’t doesn’t mean worse, but it sounds like you’re scared of different.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Going off the earlier DSGs, they’re far from problem free, but I’d like to thing that over a decade later, they’re pretty solid assuming timely fluid changes.

      • 0 avatar
        Kendahl

        Different may not mean worse but it does mean that the manufacturer doesn’t have decades of experience to find and fix all the weak points. I would prefer Audi’s transmission supplier to have tried the DSG transmission in several dozen vehicles and run them with just recommended regular maintenance until they died. Until they can go half a million miles without opening the case, they aren’t ready for installation in consumer vehicles. Manual transmissions can meet that standard.

      • 0 avatar
        northeaster

        Based on 5 months with a 2018 A4 allroad, I’d have to agree about the rev matching. After more than 30 years of manual transmissions I wanted a wagon rather than an SUV this time around; I gave up the clutch since there is basically no way to find that combination from any manufacturer.

        In non-frantic mode, the DSG shifts reproducibly more smoothly than I can manually, even if it manages a weird-downshift-to-first shudder about half the time. “Sport” doesn’t feel that sporty but mostly because the thing is quite subtle and doesn’t overrev the occasional gear change while getting in the low 5 sec range to 60.

  • avatar
    mypoint02

    I remember when buying any Audi with quattro meant you could *only* get a manual transmission. I think there’s a lot of reasons for the decline. Anecdotally, I thought long and hard about getting my Accord 2.0T Sport with the 6 speed. Initially I thought I’d buy one because it would likely be the last car with a manual that I’d own – definitely the last practical vehicle with one. The dealer even had one on the lot. But being that this is a shared vehicle, I needed something my wife could drive too. She wasn’t very keen on needing to learn how to drive stick (and why bother when they’re not going to be around much longer). Plus the more I thought about sitting in traffic every day with it and trying to find an enthusiast to buy it or take a beating on the trade in down the road, the more I realIzed that it probably wasn’t the best option. So 10AT it was. I’d still like a manual again, but it’ll likely be for a non-daily driver / fun car at this point. I suppose there’s others like me, but how many? Very few I’d guess.

  • avatar
    shappy

    It is sad to see this happening at Audi, but not surprising given the lack of a manual in more “enthusiast” models like the S and RS vehicles.

    I had a MY14 S4 and, while it was fast and capable, it was ultimately kind of bland and boring. Plus, having that motor hanging out over the front axle was really noticable when pushing it hard. While the sport-diff in the rear made the car a bit more interesting, it just wasn’t a very playful car. Also, that front weight bias was murder on the front tires.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    The problem with ‘waiting 3 months’ is, what happens if you don’t like the car? Or, if you find a flaw in the car?

    Granted, today’s cars are much better built than the 70s, but they can still have issues. Or, you may not like the way it shifts…

    So, dealers not stocking manuals because they don’t want to be ‘stuck’ with an unsold car has definitely contributed to the demise of manual trans

  • avatar
    Rasputin

    “…it doesn’t make financial sense for Audi to ship anything else across the ocean.”

    I fail to see how the type of transmission makes the slightest difference in the cost of shipping a car across the ocean. Now if a manual transmission car just plain sits on the lot unsold and must be heavily discounted (thereby removing profit)to get rid of it, OK.

    But assuming Audi makes manuals at all, why cannot I go to a dealer and order one from the factory, not caring how ling it takes to get here?

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “I fail to see how the type of transmission makes the slightest difference in the cost of shipping a car across the ocean.”

      Let me guess, Drax, nothing goes over your head. Your reflexes are too fast, you would catch it.

      The point you missed by interpreting the sentence literally: It’s not that a manual transmission Audi costs more to ship. It’s that Audi has to spend the time and money certifying manual transmission versions of their cars for fuel economy, emissions, and crash safety. And it doesn’t make financial sense for them to bother because they won’t sell enough cars so equipped to recover the costs of certifying them.

      “But assuming Audi makes manuals at all, why cannot I go to a dealer and order one from the factory, not caring how ling it takes to get here?”

      because they can’t sell it here unless the powertrain/vehicle combination is certified. Certifying them for a handful of sales is spending dollars to make pennies.

  • avatar
    ddr777

    It’s not easy to justify getting a manual, you can’t really enjoy it if you stand in traffic every day, it makes sense if you get an MX-5 as a second car and live in some rural area.
    The last time I drove a manual was a rental car in Iceland, that was perfect fit for the type of driving you do there.
    It was very surprising to hear Toyota’s new Corolla Hatchback comes with a manual! they probably know something I don’t.

  • avatar
    threeer

    One less manufacturer to consider in the future…and I rather liked Audi. But the American public has largely spoken (and continues to do so). While the enthusiast laments the dwindling number of choices, the larger (paying) majority has voted with their dollars and has chosen automatics. Cherish the sticks you have, folks!

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Great, this makes it super easy to pick who NOT to buy my next car from.

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