A few years ago we witnessed the rebirth of a Japanese sports car icon – the Toyota Supra. In some areas it redefined the Supra, as it is now a 2-seater and, believe-it-or-not, a four-cylinder model is available, breaking the tradition that all Supras are to be powered by six-cylinders. And like nearly all high-end modern-day sports cars, an automatic transmission was the sole transmission available for the Supra. Until now.
Just when you thought the days of a manual transmission were long gone, Toyota is making a six-speed manual transmission a no-cost option with the more powerful turbocharged 3.0-liter BMW-sourced inline-six cylinder engine. Yes – there is a car God.
Today’s Supra, officially called the GR Supra, is the brand’s halo car, and brings some much needed drama, excitement and thrill to the lineup of ho-hum sedans, hatchbacks and SUVs. Built and developed alongside the BMW Z4 convertible, the Supra offers similar build quality and a simpler — but still handsome — interior. Since its launch in 2019, the Supra has undergone numerous updates like a bump in power in the six-cylinder engine, an addition of a four-cylinder engine and some chassis and suspension enhancements.
For 2023, Toyota keeps the updates coming by offering the Supra with a manual transmission, and Toyota was nice enough to send one my way to use for the week. Like I said before – there is car God.
The rest of the Supra continues as before. The unchanged body looks like something Batman would show up to fight crime in. The interior is small but cozy and the Toyota – BMW relationship shows in the center console, shifter and infotainment center, as most are BMW parts (remember, the Supra is a joint venture between Toyota and BMW).
The entry-level GR Supra 2.0 uses a 2.0 liter 255-hp turbocharged four-cylinder and comes exclusively with an eight-speed automatic transmission. And while it may be listed as the entry-level, it is still able to get the Supra to 60 mph in just a tick under 5 seconds. The Supra 3.0 delivers a stout 382 hp and 367 lb-ft of torque from its 3.0-liter turbocharged straight-six. Up until now, buyers could only opt for the eight-speed automatic transmission, but now there is a manual available for the GR Supra 3.0. Strangely, while the two powerplants can be found in the BMW Z4, the manual transmission will not be available on the Supra’s German sibling.
So does the third pedal and manual shifter make the Supra 3.0 a better car? Well it depends on how you look at it. If quickness is what you are after, the automatic is still the way to go. The GR Supra 3.0 with the automatic can hit 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds and the 1/4 mile in 12.2 seconds. Going with the six-speed manual, those figures will increase slightly to 3.9 and 12.4 seconds, respectively.
But as the option of being able to row your own gears is increasingly in danger of extinction, being at the wheel of a GR Supra with manual gear shifter in your right hand is a thrill in itself. The shifter is a bit notchy, but that just adds to the fun. Rip through the cogs and the turbo six’s surge of low-end torque becomes evident (much more so than in the automatic) and the strong pull to its 7000-rpm redline is not only exhilarating, but music to the ears. Add to that the rev-matching the Supra does when you downshift and before you know it, you’ll be wearing a smiling from ear to ear.
Drawbacks to the manual shifting GR Supra? Aside from being a little slower than the automatic, fuel economy drops to an EPA combined estimate of 21 mpg — that’s 5 mpg less than the automatic 3.0 model earns. So the bottom line is that the 6-speed manual Supra is slightly slower yet drinks more fuel than it’s automatic counterpart.
But the fun factor that the manual shifting Supra provides easily out weighs the drawbacks. While the automatic Supra is a fun, fast car, with the stick-shift, the Supra is a downright blast to drive and it’s as good as we’d hoped. In other words – prayers have been answered.
– Christopher A. Randazzo
By The Numbers:
Base Price: $55,650.00
Price as Tested: $57,940.00
Layout: front-engine / rear-wheel drive
Engine: 3.0 liter turbocharged inline 6-cylinder
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Horsepower: 382 horsepower
Torque: 368 ft/lbs
EPA Fuel Economy: 19 mpg city / 27 mpg highway
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