One of the best manual transmissions ever marketed was the gated six-speed gearbox in the first-generation Audi R8. That silky-smooth, row-your-own warrior took off for the afterlife with the introduction of the second-generation car in 2015, replaced by a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. But if money can revive long-dead car brands, it shouldn’t be a problem with a few bits of metal in a core, right? It won’t be as long as there’s an affluent customer on one side, Underground Racing on the other and an Audi R8 Decade 2020 in the middle. Oh yeah, and a couple of turbos.
The Dallas-based customer owned one of the 222 R8 Decade special editions Audi produced to commemorate a decade of the 5.2-liter V10 and motorsport success – only 50 of the cars came to America, each with 602 horsepower and 413 horsepower. pound-feet of torque. He requested a twin-turbo kit from Charlotte, North Carolina-based Underground Racing, the shop that specializes in R8 and Lamborghini builds. While they were toiling in the back of the car, he also asked them to swap that dual-clutch transmission for a manual transmission. The result is a boisterous double-boosted V10 with 1,500 horsepower and six manually selected forward ratios. Underground Racing told Road & Track that they started with the gearbox from a 2012 Audi R8 and reworked it with custom parts to make it fit, manage power and run on a daily basis. The job also included installing a JRR engine management system to run the reconfigured powertrain.
Inside the cabin, UR removed the square section that houses the seven-speed dual-clutch shifter, and replaced it with what appears to be a custom fab gate that gives off Ferrari vibes. It’s pretty nice. Intriguingly, the R8 keeps its paddle shifters behind the wheel. UR says these paddles come with “rolling anti-lag,” plus “launch control, drift mode, and more.” More and more curious. The R8 Decade was finished with tweaks such as a custom billet intake and custom, center-locking wheels similar to those found on the Huracán Performante,
With one six-speed conversion, UR says it’s ready to do the same for all other R8 owners who crave manual, but the swap can only be added to a twin-turbo kit. That means you’ll need to spend at least $49,000 for the Base Twin Turbo system that takes an R8 to 800 wheel horsepower on 93 pump throttle, before adding the cost of the manual transmission work. Underground Racing says it will be releasing pricing for the six-speed manual soon, and we assume the new gearbox will be included in UR’s two-year 24,000-mile warranty for peace of mind, along with power and good shifting.