Automatic transmissions might be more efficient and quicker, but just look at that wonderful gated six-speed shifter.
This first-generation Audi R8 is a little bit more special than the others not just because of its cool-looking roof rack, but due to the reason it will go down in time as the very last R8 to be equipped with a manual gearbox. It’s a matte Nardo Gray, V8-powered example built in 2015 at the Neckarsulm factory in Germany where the naturally aspirated supercar has been in production for more than 12 years.
Those looking for maximum performance will always pick an automatic over a manual, but there’s something special about changing gears the old-fashioned way, especially when you have a wonderful gated shifter like this R8. If you’re wondering why Audi axed the six-speed manual gearbox with the second-generation R8, it’s because very few people actually opted for the manual as most got the single-clutch R Tronic and afterwards the quicker dual-clutch S Tronic. It was a similar story with the V8 version, which was canned in 2015 when the second-gen R8 came out as a V10-only model.
Even if this is “only” a V8 with “only” a manual, it’s no slouch by any means. The 4.2-liter FSI pumps out 430 horsepower and 317 pound-feet (430 Newton-meters) of torque, enough for a 0 to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds en route to a top speed of 185 mph (298 kph).
As you may recall, the R8’s future does not look very bright considering Audi has strongly suggested there won’t be a third generation. In the meantime, the current model is expected to receive a refresh based on spy shots showing prototypes with oval exhaust tips (R8 GT maybe?). There have been contradicting reports about the prospects of a turbocharged R8 with a 2.9-liter V6 shared with the RS4 Avant, RS5 Coupe / Sportback, so it’s still unclear at this point whether the Four Rings will resort to downsizing and forced induction for a cheaper R8.
Video: Auditography / YouTube