Toyota engineers have been fairly adamant that there would eventually be a manual version of the Supra sports coupe since its formal introduction in 2019. By February of 2020, chief engineer Tetsuya Tada even confirmed that the car has been tested extensively with a clutch and choose-your-own-adventure gearbox. But Toyota explained that the automaker opted against having one at launch due to a desire to lead with the model yielding the best specs on paper. Toyota was also fretting over customers modifying vehicles, claiming the eight-speed automatic could handle far more torque before giving into physics and dismantling itself.
However, the automaker has recently begun teasing the Supra with a three-pedal setup over social media, later stating that an-all new manual transmission was indeed on the way for the coupe. But why now?
The manufacturer hasn’t said anything officially. But we’re guessing the transmission was in the works for at least a year and the company felt like now was the best time to spill the beans. Nissan has already confirmed that the 400Z with as launching with a stick shift and it drops this August. Toyota may be worried that it’s about to be scooped by the competition and wants to assure future customers that it’ll be worth waiting for its manual-equipped entrant.
My assumption is that we probably won’t have to be on standby for long either. With BMW having introduced and then quickly eliminated manual variants of the Z4 sDrive 20i (equipped with the 2.0-liter B48 turbo I4) in select markets, Toyota has probably been working on something of its own since before that car launched.
BMW Z4s reviewed with the six-speed manual also haven’t gotten a lot of praise over the automatic. Most of the feedback (and there’s not been much since it hasn’t been a popular option) suggests that the gearshifts are pretty good. But there were a few complaints about the stiffness of the clutch and a nagging feeling that the automatic was probably the better choice for anyone seriously considering ownership. Still, for those seeking maximum engagement, there really isn’t any other option other than going for the third pedal and putting in a little work. But it might not have been good enough for Toyota, which would have assuredly tested the base 2.0-liter Supra using the same unit.
Despite being overwhelming similar automobiles in regard to their mechanical makeup, Toyota has tried to make the Supra into the more hardcore sports coupe — much in the same way the prior generation attempted to distance itself from the Lexus SC grand tourer. This could explain why the existing manual used on the Z4 never migrated over to Toyota’s parts pin. The Japanese company has repeatedly said the manual transmission represented a packaging issue for the Supra, likely indicating that it wanted something robust enough to cope with the 3.0-liter B58 turbo I6’s 382 horsepower and 340 foot-pounds of torque. The brand knows that it’s likely to be tuners and puritanical driving enthusiasts that’ll be optioning the most manual gearboxes — and they’ll be scoping out the 400-horsepower Nissan 400Z if the GR Supra cannot offer a manual yielding similar specs.
That theory has been supported by a statement from the automaker explaining that the forthcoming transmission was “engineered to offer enthusiasts something closer to the GAZOO Racing DNA.”
Toyota said it would be providing additional details in a few weeks. But we’ve already learned a few things over the weekend.
Unless the manual is to be locked into its own unique trim or Toyota has decided to ditch the standard black typography, it appears as though be-clutched Supras will have their name emblazoned in red on the rear deck lid. We also know what the pedals will look like thanks to the manufacturer providing photographs in advance of the formal announcement. Lastly, we’re probably going to see it on our market because Toyota USA has been teasing the new transmission in tandem with its European counterparts.
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