With the arrival of the 2019 model year, Audi reportedly plans to drop the manual transmission from its A4 and A5 sedans, which are already the last two of its models available stateside with a manual box. Audi of America will reportedly give the manual transmission one last hurrah with a limited-edition, tri-pedaled A4 named the Ultra Sport.
According to Audi Club North America, the A4 Ultra Sport is reportedly based on the $39,200 A4 Premium Plus, and that the Ultra Sport package (limited to 40 already-built vehicles) will carry a $6,800 premium, carrying the car to a likely retail price of $46,000.
Audi writes a check with the Ultra Sport name that the car can certainly cash. Adaptive damping suspension controls 19-inch wheels encircled by 245/35R19 tires to enhance handling, which the driver manipulates through a perforated, flat-bottomed steering wheel connected to adaptive steering. Weight reduction, or the suggestion of such, occurs with a carbon fiber rear spoiler, interior inlays, and housings over the mirrors, which are electronically retractable and automatically dim. Audi reportedly de-badged all Ultra Sport models, which it hopes will combine with its Quantum Grey paint to distinguish the model from your run-of-the-mill A4.
Inside, stainless steel pedal caps and four-way electronically adjustable front seats further the sporting aesthetic. Black headliner darkens the already leather and Alcantara-laden interior, though leatherette wraps the door armrests and center console. Tech upgrades are the same as those found on the A4 Premium plus; SiriusXM, parking sensors, a 3D Bang & Olufsen stereo system, and LED headlights are standard, as is a smart key.
"We have decided to no longer offer the manual transmission due to low take rate, but also because it is clear that the lion’s share of customers appreciate the better performance and fuel economy of the automatic/double clutch transmissions of today," an Audi spokesperson told The Drive, confirming the A4 Ultra Sport's existence. "Nonetheless, this model is a nod to our appreciation of the manual on the A4 model line."
Audi reportedly recommends that interested buyers speak to a dealer about an A4 Ultra Sport ASAP, as the 40 cars are expected to sell fast.
It's a shame that Audi can't make the business case for keeping the manual transmission alive in the United States. Porsche specifically attributes the U.S. market for the continued existence of manual 911s according to Road & Track, but to be fair, the iconic 911 and the decidedly more pedestrian A4 are hardly comparable, and even Audi's Japanese analogue is considering an abandonment of manuals.
For those of you who demand three pedals on your next new car, your options are only getting a little slimmer. Check this list to see if your favorite models are still offered in stick.