Toyota says that it’s built an all-new bespoke manual transmission and it’s putting it in the 2023 GR Supra. Does this mean Toyota is refocusing on performance?
Don’t get us wrong, Toyota has always had a few lines of sporting DNA in its genome but for the last little while it’s been pretty hard to find without a microscope. The last pure sports car it made completely of its own volition was the Lexus LFA. Since then, the closest thing has been the Lexus RC but that’s at best a grand tourer even in its most extreme trim. The introduction of the GR Corolla earlier this year was shockingly good news but now that Toyota says it’s building a “tailor-made” three-pedal manual transmission for the Supra, we think they might be back in the performance business.
Last year, documents appeared to confirm the existence of a manual transmission in the pipeline for the GR Supra but it wasn’t until a recent press release from Toyota that we received official confirmation of the option. Of course, they didn’t actually tell us a whole lot aside from the fact that it exists, will go on sale later this year, and that every GR Supra equipped with it will also get special red ‘Supra’ badging on the rear of the sports car.
That’s right, everyone will be able to tell if you went for the enthusiast option just by looking at the back of your Supra. Maybe that will convince a few more buyers to go for it. In addition, let’s not forget that Toyota says this is an “all-new, tailor-made” gearbox.
We can’t think of another vehicle made in the last decade that’s received this sort of treatment, and by that we mean it was already in production and a brand went this far out of its way to build a manual gearbox for it. That simply doesn’t happen in today’s market for a host of reasons that mostly have to do with prohibitive costs.
Right now there’s no indication of how long the Supra will have a three-pedal option or if it’ll last for the rest of its life cycle, though we fully expect the latter. In addition, Toyota hasn’t made it clear whether or not the manual will work with both the 2.0-liter four-cylinder Supra and the 3.0-liter six-cylinder or if it’ll only work with one or the other. As of this writing a lot of speculation is that it will only be available on the inline-six which would be fine. If Toyota somehow decided to go the other route and make it only available on the four-cylinder it would be an almost unforgivable sin.
The GR Supra needs a sales boost and hopefully this will be the trick to reviving the car in the eyes of enthusiasts. In general, Toyota is going to need to give the Supra new features and powers if it’s going to combat the upcoming Nissan Z. While pricing has yet to be announced for that rival, all signs point to the likelihood of it being less expensive than the Supra while offering more horsepower. Nissan also has the benefit of selling the Z with a manual transmission from the get go and the recognition as a purebred that wasn’t built as a collaboration with another company. We, for one, think we’re all better off with more sports cars, not less.