At a time when manual gearboxes in the US are more commonly associated with base-trim cars, Audi is bucking the trend with a version of the 2017 A4 that eschews the automatic. The company has confirmed that there’ll be a manual A4 quattro in its model year 2017 line-up, with a redesigned six-speed gearbox that promises to be both smoother and faster than the outgoing version.
In fact, the 2017 A4 quattro manual will be capable of 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds, Audi says, a cut of 0.7 seconds over its predecessor.
That’s with the 2.0 liter TFSI engine, good for 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft. of torque. There’s a new quattro all-wheel drive system too, intended to work better with the manual gearbox, that relies on both an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch at the rear of the transmission, and an integrated decoupler in the rear axle differential.
It’s also 8.8 pounds less than the previous quattro system, though it’s not the only weight saving in the car.
Audi turned to magnesium along with open gearwheels, hollow shafts, and a smaller clutch to trim more then 35 pounds from the transmission versus the outgoing A4. It also gets a new spur-gear stage, replacing the front-axle differential’s shaft from the old design.
Further distinguishing the manual car will be an exclusive Sport plus package. That will have cast aluminum 18-inch 5-double-spoke-star design wheels, the option of Daytona Gray paint, and an S line leather and Alcantara interior with sport seats, a flat-bottom steering wheel, and matching aluminum trim.
Audi dynamic steering and sport adaptive suspension will also be included in the package.
While loved by enthusiast drivers, manual gearboxes have long fallen from favor among American drivers, particularly in the luxury segment where slick-shifting automatics are de rigueur.
Alongside the growing reluctance among drivers to use their left foot, automatics have improved in their contribution to both performance and economy; indeed, it’s not unusual for the fastest 0-60 mph times to be achieved by leaving the gearbox to handle its own shifts.
Audi also offers the 2017 A4 with a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission, in either front-wheel or all-wheel quattro forms, and it’s likely to be the more popular choice.
Still, as the only all-wheel drive six-speed manual car in its luxury sedan segment, the new 2014 A4 is likely to be even more appealing to a certain cadre of owners.
It’ll be priced from $39,400 (plus $950 destination).