Some cars have been sold with a large metal shifting stick in the center console and a third foot lever intended to decouple engine power from the drivetrain. Very few people in the U.S. automotive buying market ever figured out what these strange pieces were intended for, and as a result never bought them.
Now, because the sales rate is so low—Audi told Car & Driver only 5 percent of A4 buyers worldwide chose a no-cost manual transmission option—the company is dropping the shifting stick from the A4 and A5 model line for the 2019 model year. This leaves Audi’s U.S. lineup devoid of any manual transmission options.
Americans, overwhelmingly, are choosing to have their car shift for them. Audi, seeing that trend, is more than happy to provide automatic gearbox cars for Americans to buy. My favorite small sports sedan, the S3, does not come with a manual option, even though it is essentially a VW Golf R (which does offer a manual) with a trunk. It, the various guises of TT, and the R8 would all be made better with a manual option, says I.
Audi knows that there is no fiscal point to offering a manual option for that scant 5 percent of buyers. For those of us who enjoy the lost art of driving a manual transmission, it’s a little bit sad to see the German sport-lux brand drop the option from their entire lineup. My daily driver is an Audi with a manual transmission.
Rest peacefully sweet manually-shifted Audi A4 and A5. You were unappreciated in your time, and have gone from your delicate existence far too soon. Your absence shall be mourned. The burden of your death shall weigh heavily upon each of us who chose not to buy while the option was ours to choose.