A Toyota GR Supra manual? The car they said would never happen!
Here it is: three pedals in the footwell, a shifter in the middle of the center console. A center console that’s been thoroughly redesigned, Toyota says, because it was never intended for a wobbly stick.
As you will probably remember, the GR Supra shares many components and underpinnings with the BMW Z4. Something you can’t have in any flavor of the current Z4 is a manual gearbox. It’s a Zone-only eight-speed automatic.
When Toyota decided to put a six-speed manual transmission in its hardtop cousin – after blindly swearing that paddle shifters were the way to go and sports car buyers just wanted a squishy car – test drivers found themselves banging their knuckles on the climate control buttons, when they are in first, third or fifth gear. The distance was only 4 mm.
To counter this, a new center console moves the shifter rearward from where you’ll find it in the car. That means the handbrake switch, iDrive media controller and mode buttons have also been spread out to make room. It looks a bit less tidy than in the car… but you forgive that quickly. And your ankles now have 42mm to roam around in.
How much effort did Toyota actually put into this? Just more reheated BMW innards?
The gearbox itself is a bit of a mishmash. Toyota says it “bought” after a collection of bits from ZF that could handle the torque of the 369 lb ft turbocharged 3.0-liter, but would also keep the weight modest and fit in the available gap.
So the gearbox is cobbled together from commercially available parts, but as a whole it only exists in the Supra, not in every BMW. Think of it like a greatest hits album remastered: you’ve heard all the songs before, but they’ve been polished and stuffed into new packaging.
And then there’s the effort Toyota made to change gears feeling Pretty.
Sounds like this is about to get VERY nerdy.
hold on tight Toyota says it has experimented with three different shift knob masses for the Supra manual transmission. Yes, these are three different knob weights.
They started with a 68-gram element, then traded it in for a 137-gram topper, and finally settled on a 200-gram lever that adds just enough sluggishness to movement between gears without feeling clunky.
That’s commendably finicky. And Toyota is in good company here: The only component of the Gordon Murray T.50 that was deliberately chosen to be as heavy as possible was the gear knob, which was milled from the solid, as it also serves for shift quality and mechanical feedback.
Two hundred grams! Couldn’t the Supra use some weight loss?
Absolutely, and it has. The manual gearbox is lighter than the automatic, of course, and then there’s the GR Yaris-esque wheels and a revised hi-fi system. That all saves 38.3kg, which isn’t much but puts the beefy Supra in the right direction, towards the 1.5 tonne limit.
So how is it to drive?
The shift is a peach: smooth, weighted, and free of notches. The clutch pedal keeps up if you want to change in a hurry and is easy to move up and down. The manual conversion has settled into Supra life wonderfully. It also changed the character of the car: where there used to be muddy upshifts, there is now physical interaction and the danger of hitting the red line.
Obviously, with just six gear ratios instead of eight, the manual will be slower from the factory and less fuel-efficient on the highway, but on first impressions it’s got a personality transplant…into it now Has a personality.
But just as much credit goes to the team that had nothing to do with the gearbox.
is there more?
It’s not like Toyota knew the GR Supra was a bit of a pudding, but…they weren’t half busy tweaking it. The chemistry of the rubber used in the suspension has been changed so that it is less pliable. The adaptive chassis has been retuned. There’s also a new calibration for the Supra’s deaf electric power steering. And even the traction control had a sense of humor upgrade.
We’ve only had a handful of laps at a bone-dry Spanish circuit to test this new Supra – all cars from 2022 will improve handling. But first impressions are very positive. Turn-in is crisper, the rear axle doesn’t feel like it’s lazily flapping around in your wake like a fish on a line, and you have a clearer idea of when the rear-wheel-drive chassis might dodge for skids and giggles.
It’s not a nighttime reinvention that suddenly propels the GR Supra to Alpine A110 levels of interactivity and poise, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
There used to be a bit of a “why did you care about the Supra” feeling – all those BMW bits that have been revived so unconvincingly. Neither the six-cylinder nor the 2.0-liter hit the spot. But now, here, today, the Supra seems to be getting really good. Last but not least.
Will anyone really buy a manual GR Supra?
Good question. On the plus side, when Porsche made the GT3 a PDK-only car, there was a seething uproar, followed by queues around the block for the 911 R and manual GT3 Touring. So the “you can’t have DIY gear until we say so” tactic can really pay off – on real hardcore specials.
Then again, how many F-Type manuals has Jaguar ever pushed? One in ten Caymans in the UK has three pedals, despite being blessed by the gods with one gear. BMW M2 DCTs outperform manuals by a similar margin. This could be a classic case of a car that avid geeks mistake for Toyota should build but not intend actually spend over £50,000 on themselves.
For what it’s worth, Toyota reckons the manual will take 30-40 percent of sales. Which is a pretty old chunk. Makes you wonder why they didn’t jump right into it, huh?
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