Why the Audi R8 Doesn’t Offer a Manual Transmission or a V-8 Engine

"You have to look at lap times."

As every red-blooded automotive enthusiast knows, a three-pedal setup is the most engaging and entertaining way to wring the most out of a car. But that’s not the way Audi’s head of Quattro GmbH, Heinz Hollerweger, sees it.

In some ways, you can’t blame him. Today’s most advanced automatic transmissions simply outperform manuals at the track, something Hollerweger made a point to call out when asked why the new Audi R8 will only offer a dual-clutch.

“You have to look at lap times,” he said at the 2015 Geneva auto show, adding that the take rate for manual transmission-equipped Audi R8s, at least in Europe, was almost nil. When pressed on the issue, Hollerweger remained firm. There is simply is no way for a stick-shift to match the performance of the R8’s dual-clutch transmission and few buyers wanted one, so Hollerweger believes there’s no point in offering a manual on the new car.

Of course, we’d beg to differ and we were a bit taken aback by his assertion that a manual-equipped car is not the more engaging experience for the driver. But sadly it seems the way of the world, and it’s far from a surprise given the path supercar makers like Ferrari and others have been moving in recent years.

Hollerweger had one other bit of news surrounding the Audi R8, that a V-8 will not be available for the car. It came as a bit of a surprise that the new R8 launched with the V-10 and now we know why. “We have no interest in a V-8,” Hollerweger said. He also indicated that the take rate for the eight-cylinder was low and that interest in the “iconic” V-10 far outstripped expectations in the first-gen car.

So for this generation at least, if you want an Audi R8, you’ll be able to pick between a 520-hp and a 610-hp version of the 5.2-liter V-10 engine, but you’ll be stuck with the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Or, if you want to wait a year or more, at least in Europe, you can opt for the R8 e-tron, with its T-shaped lithium-ion battery pack, electric motors, and 280-mile driving range.

So, all you owners of first-gen Audi R8s with V-8 engines and manual transmissions, you now own a pretty exclusive machine. Enjoy.


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2017 Audi R8

2017 Audi R8

MSRP $162,900 5.2 (Auto) Coupe


14 City / 22 Hwy

Horse Power:

540 @ 7800


398 @ 6500