You can bemoan the current R8‘s lack of manual gearbox all you want - the fact is Audi would have been bonkers to offer one. With 99 per cent of buyers in the last three years of the first-generation R8’s life ignoring the stick-shift version of the car in favour of the ‘S Tronic’ dual-clutch transmission, developing a new manual simply made no sense.
For the fraction of people who do want a second-gen R8 with cogs shifted the old-fashioned way, there is a new option from Underground Racing. There is a catch, however - the Charlotte-based tuner will only give your R8 an extra pedal if you opt for one of its famed twin-turbo conversions.
These start at $49,000, going up to $175,000 for the particularly fancy versions. The first car to receive the manual mod seems to be one of the spendier variety. Commissioned by one of Underground’s “great long-time customers,” the R8 Decennium features a rear-mount UR Twin Turbo package delivering 1480bhp (1500bhp), a billet intake manifold and Lamborghini Huracan Performante centre-locking wheels.
The gearbox comes from a 2012 R8, Underground told Road & Track. A whole host of custom parts had to be fabricated to ensure the transmission could be successful mounted, and it took a lot of time to sort the electronic side of things. So, although there isn’t a price for the conversion just yet, expect it to be pretty pricey.
The original paddle shifters for the S Tronic gearbox are still there but repurposed to control the rolling anti lag system. The Decennium also gets a drift mode, should the owner be brave enough to throw some shapes with 1500bhp beneath his right foot.