A lack of demand is forcing Audi to drop a manual gearbox option from the refreshed A4's lineup in the United States, but the Four Rings knows that its hardcore fans prefer a three-pedal layout. As a farewell to this transmission and for a gift to fans, Audi USA is creating 40 examples of the A4 Ultra Sport that gives the sedan a clutch pedal, in addition to lots of sporty upgrades. The improvements boost the price by just $6,800.
The Ultra Sport edition starts with mid-range Premium Plus trim of the 2018 A4. Mechanically, the upgrades include adaptive dampers and variable-ratio dynamic steering. On the outside, they all have Quantum Gray paint with titanium black trim. Carbon fiber parts cover the mirror caps and tiny trunk lip spoiler. The sedans ride on 19-inch, five-spoke wheels with a matte titanium finish. It might be hard to identify them because part of the package includes removing the model and engine badges from the trunk.
Inside, Ultra Sport buyers find a significantly improved cabin over a standard A4. Diamond-stitched Alcantara covers the center sections of the four-way, power-adjustable sport seats, and smooth leather is on the bolsters. Leatherette upholstery appears on the center console and armrests. Drivers grip a flat-bottom steering wheel and step on stainless steel pedal caps. Audi Sport RS carbon fiber trim adds a sporty aesthetic to the interior. As a final touch, the headliner is black cloth.
Only a few percent of A4 customers in the U.S. opted for the manual gearbox, so the company dropped it from the refreshed version. The 2019 A4 is only available with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The model also has slight design revisions, but you need to look close things like the tiny tweaks to the lower fascia.
Gallery: Audi A4 Ultra Sport
Audi A4 Ultra sport Returns, Manual Only and Highly Limited
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
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.