By now you may have heard that the remaining manual transmission models in the Audi lineup, including A4 and A5 coupé, will disappear with the arrival of the 2019 model year. No doubt manual transmission purists lament this day, though Audi of America’s own manual aficionados have created a proper send-off with the return of the A4 Ultra sport.
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.
Fortunately though, Audi of America created a very special way to say goodbye. No doubt Audi purists remember the original A4 Ultra sport built during the B6 generation. That very special sporting A4 featured unique kit that marked the first time the A4 would be as visually aggressive as the S4. It seemed fitting then to return to the formula with this very special hat tip to the departing manuals.
With the decision to discontinue the manual transmission, Audi of America decided to earmark the last 40 cars as manual transmission cars. The Ultra sport spec was formulated to be as sporty in appearance as the S4… and yet also with that manual transmission.
All of the cars were built identically. First, they got Premium Plus specification that includes advanced key, SiriusXM, driver memory, front/rear parking sensors, Bang & Olufsen 3D sound, LED headlights, Audi side assist, power folding/auto-dimming side mirrors, and Audi virtual cockpit/navigation.
Beyond that is the Ultra sport package at an additional cost of $6,800. It includes:
- Stainless pedal caps
- Leatherette covered center console and door armrests
- Flat bottom perforated steering wheel
- Dynamic steering
- Sport adaptive damping suspension
- Sport front seats with 4-way power lumbar
- S line Leather / Alcantara interior with contrast stitching
- Black cloth headliner
- Audi Sport RS carbon inlays
- Carbon fiber mirror caps
- Carbon fiber rear lip spoiler
- 19-inch 5-arm-rotor design wheels with matte titanium finish
- 245 35 19 summer tires
- Titanium black exterior package
- Deletion of model and engine designation from trunk lid
- Quantum Gray exterior paint
To the highly trained eye, it is clear that Audi of America dipped considerably into the vast mix of trim and equipment available from the B9 partsbin. The RS carbon inlays come from the RS 4 Avant, while the 19-inch-rotor design wheels are from the S4 black optic package. Badge deletion, a longtime European trend, helps make the A4 Ultra sport look more like an S4, though perhaps a bit more aggressive thanks to carbon fiber mirror caps and trunk lip spoiler. Quantum Gray, just added to the 2019 S4/S5/SQ5 range, has never been offered on the A4 and adds a further sporting touch.
At the time of this writing, all 40 A4 Ultra sport sedans are believed to be at port in the USA. Given the limited number of units, Audi recommends anyone interested in getting an A4 Ultra sport place an order with their dealer in order to pull one to the cars to them.