Awhile back, we did a quick drive of the current Audi A4 2.0T Quattro but rather than the typical seven-speed dual-clutch auto, it sported a six-speed manual transmission. Though, we only got a short taste of the row-your-own A4, we were able to learn that the manual gearbox in the new A4 is a good one, with crisp throws and nice clutch engagement. However, we weren’t able to do any real tests of it. Thankfully, Car and Driver was given the chance to do so.
The manual transmissions is something that’s not-so-slowly going the way of the dodo, as fewer and fewer drivers want to actually shift gears themselves. Plus, automatics are getting so good that it’s hard to pass them up for manuals. Which is why it’s so surprising that Audi still offers a three-pedal ‘box in the new A4. The automatic in the A4 is the aforementioned seven-speed dual-clutch, dubbed “S-Tronic”, which is quite sporty. So Audi could have easily left it at that and labeled the A4 sporty enough, especially considering it’s the only car in its class with a dual-clutch gearbox. But Audi did the honorable thing and brought a six-speed manual to the US and we’re incredibly happy about it.
So how did Car and Driver feel? Well, you should go read their full review to find out. But we’ll summarize a few bits from it for you. For instance, C&D agrees that the manual is a good one. While not the best in the business, it’s precise, has well defined shift gates and its clutch engagement is right at the top of the pedal. It’s both easy and enjoyable to use. Having driven the only other car in its class with a manual, the BMW 3 Series, I can honestly say Audi’s ‘box is better. BMW’s feels too rubbery and vague and its clutch engagement is near the bottom of the pedal, making hurrying shifts a chore.
C&D also used some high-tech gear to measure the manual A4’s performance stats and you’ll be surprised. We won’t spoil all of them but the Audi A4 was actually a tenth of a second quicker with a manual than it was with the snappy seven-speed dual-clutch. Such things are unheard of. But we’re assuming that maybe gearing came into play, there, as the seven-speed’s might be a bit taller than the six-speed’s. We don’t know for sure but that’s the only explanation we have for that.
All in all, this review proves that the manual transmission for the Audi A4 is actually a great option to get. If you like manual transmissions but are worried that it wouldn’t be any good, because most modern manuals at this price point aren’t, don’t be. Get the manual.