Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: May 10, 2023
If you held out long enough for Toyota to finally announce a manual gearbox for the revamped Supra, then your patience has been rewarded. Because between the 8-speed automatic and the 6-speed manual, we choose the one with the three pedals. It offers an extra layer of dexterity and control to the driver, and while it may be three-tenths of a second slower from 0-100 km/h than the automatic (4.1 vs 4.4 s), the added engagement and driver reward is ten-fold. It transforms the Supra from a good sports car to a great one.
The manual is only available with the 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six and not the smaller four-cylinder, but it’s a beautiful marriage. The BMW-sourced engine is a rev-happy, silky smooth, torque-filled monster that has always been begging for a gearbox like this. With total control from both feet, you can utilize the Supra how you want it.
The Supra carries the same launch control feature, engine output of 382 hp and 368 lb-ft of torque, and active exhaust. It receives a shorter final-drive ratio, the gearing is much taller than in the automatic so you will be revving more and shifting less, and some sound deadening has been removed, letting in more intake and exhaust noise. It also weighs 10 kg more, and the fuel consumption takes a hit - we averaged 12.1 L/100km in the manual, while our time in the auto yielded 11.1 L/100km.
The shift lever is short and stubby with a cueball head - it’s not as visually appealing as the shifter in the GR86 or GR Corolla, but it’s more ergonomic to grasp and the suede wrap means sweaty palms will never slip. The short-throw travel is satisfying but notchy. There’s some positive resistance to it but navigating from second to third gear is tricky as the gate tolerances are narrow. To alleviate any guesswork, there’s a bright gear display on the instrument cluster that shows precisely what gear you’re in, even with the clutch pedal depressed.
Adding to its beginner-friendly appeal is an auto rev-matching feature, which can be deactivated but it’s not as easy as pushing a button like in the GR Corolla. Here you have to dive into the Individual Drive Mode settings to shut it off. The clutch bite point is quite lenient as well, though the pedal travel is long. Fun fact, you only need to depress the clutch pedal about 75% to get the action going.
But the biggest upgrade with the manual Supra isn’t related to the manual itself. Regular CAR readers will know that we despise the Supra’s odd passenger-centric center console that has a huge divider between the driver and shifter, which obstructs access to the shifter and upper storage cubby. It’s a mirror copy of the Jaguar F-Type that prioritizes the pilot instead. But in the manual Supra, they have torn that wall down to allow you to reach for the shifter unimpeded. No more Wall of Supra.
Few things are as exhilarating as pulling up to the Supra’s 7,000 rpm limiter on full afterburner. The exhaust noise is exhilarating and while we don’t expect many Supras to stay stock, those who prefer it that way will be glad to know it’s acoustically sufficient. We wish it were more vocal at low RPMs but rev it hard, shift just below the redline, and it will emit loud pops, crackles, and bangs on overrun, enough to crack necks and disturb the neighbours.
The six-cylinder loves to rev and there is an abundance of torque everywhere in the powerband so that you don’t need to shift often. 382 horsepower feels just right for this rear-wheel drive platform, as any more would require more aero and stickier tires.
That said, the Supra doesn’t feel as grounded or as stable as some of its rivals like the BMW M240i xDrive which uses the same engine but with two extra driven wheels. The heavy and somewhat lazy front end needs some time and patience to grip and bite down, and the traction control system is frustratingly intrusive. Rather than gently and progressively cutting off the throttle while letting some slip come through, it charges in strong and completely cuts everything off until the car is straightened out. Then it lets go of the reins instantly and jerks the car sideways. It results in a choppy transition mid-corner when you just want a bit of slip to get the rear rotated quicker, and we can’t seem to nail it down smoothly.
On the bright side, ride comfort is excellent and on par with the M240i’s composed damping setup, and both make for excellent commuting partners. The seats are nicely padded but ingress and egress out of them are hampered due to a low roofline that will have you bumping your noggin if you’re not an acrobat. Storage cubbies are sparse but we appreciate the fact that there’s a cover for the wireless charging pad so our phone doesn’t fly out the window on a high-speed sweeper. We also appreciate the trunk passthrough so you can grab items from your bags without leaving the driver’s seat.
The Supra utilizes the last-generation BMW infotainment system with a rotary dial and touchscreen capability. We actually prefer this interface to the new crop of BMW units. It’s simpler, more functional, and there is less fuss with touch prompts and navigating through multiple sub-menus just to turn on the heated seats. Here, there’s a hard button for all the high-traffic features and Toyota has even kept those highly-regarded eight programmable shortcut buttons that BMW has exiled to the shadow realm.
Pleasing enthusiasts with a three-pedal variant, Toyota has transformed the GR Supra into a more engaging and rewarding sports car. It covers all the bases, from its torquey engine to its RWD layout, but has added an extra layer of control that may have prerequisites but it knows how to flatter once you learn to wrangle it by the shifter.
Model: 2023 Toyota GR Supra 3.0T 6MT
Paint Type: Cu Later
Base Price: $69,000
Price as Tested: $70,630
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,381 / 1,854 / 1,293
Curb weight (kg): 1,542
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six
Horsepower: 382 hp @ 5,800 - 6,500 rpm
Torque: 368 lb-ft @ 1,800 - 5,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 12.1
Tires: Michelin Super Sport tires; 255/35ZR19 front; 275/45ZR19 rear