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Audi ditching manual transmissions in the U.S.

Photo: Audi
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Daniel Rufiange
Remaining 2018 Audis with manual gearboxes are likely to fly off dealers’ inventory shelves

Starting with 2019 model-year vehicles, Audi will no longer offer manual transmissions in the United States. Nothing has been confirmed for Canada yet, but we can be pretty sure the same fate will befall manual gearboxes in our market.

The reason provided by the German automaker is short and to the point: only 5% of buyers go for them.

Audi confirmed to Car and Driver magazine that the A4 and A5 models, including the latter model’s coupe version, would only come equipped with an automatic transmission starting next year. At the same time, a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission will replace the current 6-speed version.

Now, that 5% seems on the small side, statistically speaking. But there’s no denying that some manufacturers continue to include manual transmissions in their product offerings in spite of vanishing demand. At Nissan, for example, the 2019 Sentra is still offered with a manual gearbox, even though only 2% of buyers of the model ultimately choose it.  

Conversely, Subaru has chopped the option for its 2019 Legacy and 2019 Outback models, citing low demand that has translated into 3% and 4% sales percentages, respectively.

In many cases, the manual transmission option is kept alive mainly so that manufacturers can list a lower starting price. As a general rule, the upper-range trims that most people ultimately buy do not come with a manual gearbox as an option.

Once upon a time, these transmissions allowed for reducing fuel consumption in relation to their automatic counterparts. But this is no longer the case, in fact the current champion fuel economizer is the CVT (continuously variable transmission).

Of course, the x factor associated with these manual gearboxes is the driving pleasure they provide, but clearly that is not a top priority for most of today’s consumers.

If you’re intent of getting yourself a manual-transmission-equipped Audi, there are still 2018 models in dealer’s inventories, but the clock is ticking.

In Europe, by the way, Audi will continue to offer the stick shift.

Daniel Rufiange
Daniel Rufiange
Automotive expert
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 75 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 250 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists