Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to mourn the death of the stick shift in Audi’s lineup. Felled by ever-better automatics and dual-clutch transmissions and, most of all, apathetic buyers, the manual gearbox bows out on the 2018 Audi A4. For this somber occasion, Audi’s giving us a special edition A4 with a stick shift, and if you’re gonna get any new A4, make it this one.
This is the 2018 A4 Ultra Sport. If that sounds familiar, congrats, you probably remember the Ultra Sport edition on the B6 A4 of the 2000s. Like that car, it’s kind of a Diet Coke version of the S4. As the Audi Club of North America reports and as Audi has confirmed, only 40 of these will be made, all in identical Quantum Gray paint and all with manual gearboxes.
They come also with a nice suite of equipment, including a flat-bottom steering wheel, an adaptive sport suspension, special five-spoke wheels, Bang & Olufsen 3D sound, LED headlights, something called “dynamic steering” and some carbon fiber exterior tweaks.
All this, for an additional $6,800 over the A4's usual $36,000 base price. Power, as usual, comes from a 2.0-liter turbo four with 252 horsepower.
If you’re sad about the death of the manuals, remember, we did this to ourselves. They’re even dead in Germany. From the club’s report:
The reality of today’s car market is that the fierce loyalty for manual transmission models simply doesn’t translate in sales. With the B9-generation, Audi AG permitted the USA and UK to retain the manual configuration in these cars even though they didn’t choose to do so in their home market of Germany.
Audi of America President Scott Keogh told club members at the recent Audi Club Nationals in Seattle that in order to get the manual approved for A4 and A5, he’d promised that transmission would account for 10-12% of sales. In reality, Keogh shared that manuals accounted for just 2-3%. Given such declining numbers, Germany could no longer justify its continuation.
The club says all these are believed to be at port currently, so those excited about it should contact their dealerships and put in an order ASAP. Is it the hottest, sexiest way to send out the manual transmission? No, not at all.
But if you’re going to lay claim to owning one of the last manual Audis ever, you could do worse. Plenty of collectors and everyday enthusiasts will be all over it.