In the latest generation of Audi A4, the B9 generation, Audi ditched the familiar automatic gear lever for a flatter, electronic one. It’s actually a similar shifter used in the A8 that debuted in 2012 and it’s similar style of shifter as in the Audi R8. It’s quite ergonomic, feels good in the hand and frees up some space to move your arms about the center console. However, in a recent, and most interesting, article from the Independent UK, it’s said that the new Audi A4’s shifter was switched over to be less “phallic-like” than before, thus reducing the urge for drivers to drive quickly.
This is an interesting concept because, for quite some time, aggressive drivers have been said to be penis-obsessed and constantly trying to be more masculine than the rest of the drivers on the road. A proverbial penis-measuring if you will. As if all male drivers are gorillas and need to display our penises and throw our poo to demonstrate our masculinity to other road-goers. So, according to this article, the new automatically equipped Audi A4 will make us gorillas less inclined to drive quickly because our shifters are less penis-shaped?
This is a strange theory and, frankly, and incorrect one.
Firstly, the Audi A4 isn’t the first Audi to have that sort of flat shifter. As previously mentioned, the Audi A8 debuted with a similar shifter back in 2012, and aren’t cars like the Audi A8 (big, expensive and luxurious cars built around the idea of excess and capitalism) the sort of cars that have a reputation for being uber-masculine?
Secondly, there’s the Audi R8 which, in its second-generation, uses a very similar shifter as the Audi A4. The Audi R8 is solely built for demolishing roads and crushing lap times. Its 5.2 liter V10 is a naturally-aspirated middle-finger to the rest of the automotive world that’s turned to downsizing and turbocharging in the name of Johnny Polar Bear. Its 610 hp and 3.2 second 0-60 mph time kind of epitomize that masculine act “slamming a car through quick, high-speed car changes” and aggressive driving. The same kind all of us neanderthal, gorilla-like men typically engage in, right? I’m pretty sure that there’s not a single Audi R8 owner who drives in a more relaxed fashion because the gear lever is more ergonomic and flat.
Thirdly, is fun, fast driving only the desire of thick-headed, penis-obsessed men? Tell that to Sabine Schmitz.
Lastly, this Independent article was meant mostly in jest (at least I hope it was) and wasn’t meant to be taken too seriously. However, it does point to a particular subculture of people who defy sports cars, and spirited driving in general, due to these people deeming it beneath them and childish. However, those of us enthusiasts who do enjoy driving quickly, within reason of course, understand the difference between driving quickly and driving idiotically. So we don’t need a flat shifter to make us drive less manic and that wasn’t Audi’s intention either.