Okay, so Audi has just broken the news about the upcoming Audi S4. Overall, the car looks excellent. It packs a 3.0 liter turbocharged V6 engine, making 354 hp and can do 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds. That’s some damn good performance. However, many loyal Audi fans are stuck on the fact that it comes with an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox as standard, with no option for a manual. No manual transmission in an S4, has Audi gone mad?
It turns out that the eight-speed Tiptronic was the only gearbox that could handle the instantaneous wave of torque from the new turbocharged V6. Audi even had to ditch its plans of using the seven-speed dual-clutch S-Tronic gearbox, as it couldn’t handle the torque either. Despite the S-Tronic being just a touch faster than the Tiptronic gearbox, it wasn’t worth Audi redesigning it to work with the torque, as the eight-speed does just fine. Better than fine, in fact. It’s downright quick. But that doesn’t necessarily excuse the lack of manual, does it?
Surely, Audi could’ve fitted a three-pedal ‘box in the S4 somehow. Audi offered a six-speed unit in the 520 horsepower 5.2 liter V10 Audi R8, surely Audi has a manual gearbox lying around that can manage the torque, right? Well, probably so, but that’s likely not the reason for the lack of a third pedal. The Audi S4’s manual take-rate was quite low amongst customers, so it wasn’t actually profitable to offer the manual. Audi isn’t the only automaker that has this issue. BMW is seeing it with its M cars as well, and Mercedes-Benz hasn’t offered a manual in its performance cars in ages. Sadly, people just don’t want manuals anymore. But that isn’t my main beef with the S4. I can live with no manual, because auto ‘boxes are faster anyway.
What I’m upset about is the lack of North American Audi S4 Avant. The S4 Avant is one of the most highly sought after performance cars by enthusiasts the world over. Reason being is that it’s fast, handles great, has Quattro all-wheel drive and all-weather capability and it’s extremely practical. It’s like having a supercar that can fit your whole family and luggage. What more could you possibly want. Europeans have been able to enjoy these delightful dual-personality Audis for ages now, but not us Yanks. We’re too stubborn to give wagons a try so the other side of the Atlantic is where they stay.
Yes, I went there. I know, I know, Audi would sell all of about five S4 Avants in the ‘States if they were sold here. So it wouldn’t be profitable either. However, Audi is one of the largest auto manufacturers in the world, it can afford to waste a couple of bucks bringing the few North American enthusiasts what they want. If Cadillac can do it, with the second-gen CTS-V Wagon, then Audi can do it. So pretty please, Audi, give us the S4 Avant that we so desperately want. And while you’re at it, throw in a manual too?