Audi drops manual transmissions from European S4, S5 models

Americans will still have the option of Audi's fine three-pedal gearbox.

It's well documented that manual transmissions are an endangered species largely favored by the enthusiast minority in America, while in contrast the majority of European drivers favor row-your-own gearboxes. In this light, Audi's decision to nix the stick shift from its performance-oriented S4 and S5 offerings in Old World markets seems more than a little puzzling.

Beneath the surface, however, the move actually makes at least a modicum of sense. In Europe, some luxury brands have been positioning automatic transmissions as a sporty alternative to the ubiquitous manual, and it's true that Audi's dual-clutch gearbox does offer quicker shifts than a traditional stick while maintaining a degree of driver control.

Thankfully, Audi will continue to offer a three-pedal six-speed on U.S.-market S4 and S5 models.

"They (Europe) lose the manual. We (the U.S.) keep the manual! 100 percent confirmed, although I don't know what other markets also get to keep it," said Audi product planning manager Barry Hoch. "I don't want to fear for my life when I leave the office. The manual transmission enthusiasts are... umm... passionate individuals. Save the Manuals!"

Animated car lovers have also motivated BMW to begrudgingly develop a manual transmission option for the last- and current-generation M5s solely for the American market.

1.'Breaking: Audi AG...' view