The BMW Z4 convertible and the Toyota Supra were co-developed through a partnership between the two automakers. While the same in many ways, the Supra has lacked one major thing that the Z4 had since the time of its launch in 2019 – a manual transmission.
For the 2023 model year, that changes.
The 2023 Toyota Supra will now offer a six-speed manual transmission like the first four generations. It will be offered only with the six-cylinder powertrain and Toyota is also creating a special MT Edition, limited to 500 units.
Toyota’s Supra A91-MT special edition gets Cognac leather-trimmed seats, a GR Alcantara shift knob and a premium audio system. It will be offered in two exclusive colors, Matte White and CU Later Gray, and rolls on 19-inch Frozen Gunmetal Gray wheels. Under the hood, red strut tower braces match the new red exterior badges.
The company says it didn’t pick a manual off the shelf for this application; it developed the gearbox specifically for the GR Supra’s inline six-cylinder engine. Engineers modified an existing transmission housing, driveshaft and gear set for the 2023 Supra. It also used a larger diameter clutch with a larger friction area and stronger spring, which Toyota says is “appropriate for use with the GR Supra’s high-torque engine.
That high-torque 3.0-liter engine was upgraded last year to 382 horsepower and 367 pound-feet (lb-ft) from 335 horsepower and 365 lb-ft. The available 2.0-liter four-cylinder produces 255 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Toyota shortened the final drive ratio from 3.15 to 3.46 in the manual version for quicker takeoffs. An eight-speed automatic transmission is still offered.
The take rate for manual transmissions in the U.S. is at a paltry 2.4 percent, though about 13 percent of vehicles offer a stick shift. Some nameplates do better than others, including cars like the Mazda MX-5 Miata, Porsche 911, Volkswagen GTI and Acura Integra.
Toyota retuned the brakes and traction control for 2023. The traction system had to be updated for the manual, whether leaving from a slippery surface or accelerating around a corner. The vehicle is also the first to feature the Hairpin+ function that “allows more freedom and reward when taking tight bends on an uphill gradient (more than 5 percent) with a high-friction road surface.”
The system allows more wheelspin in those situations for a more enjoyable drive, however, the vehicle stability control system intervenes earlier to counter “snap oversteer.” That scary situation happens when a driver is going around a corner and snaps off the throttle. That sends the weight forward, sometimes causing a loss of grip (and therefore a slide) in the rear.
Toyota retuned the suspension on both automatic and manual 3.0 versions for improved roll balance and ride comfort. It also retuned the power steering system, and all I6 models now come with an active rear sport differential that distributes power in the back.
Heated, leather-wrapped seats are now standard. The 3.0 Premium trim adds black and red accents, a full-color head-up display, premium audio with 12 speakers and wireless charging.
The Supra will continue to compete with a handful of enthusiast coupes including the new Nissan Z ($45,000, est.), the Porsche 718 Cayman ($60,500), BMW M2 ($58,900), even the Ford Mustang ($27,205) and Chevy Camaro ($25,000). All of those fall into that 13 percent, giving buyers a change to row their own gears.
Pricing for the 2023 Toyota Supra will be announced later this summer. The current model starts at $43,540 with the four-cylinder. The GR Supra 3.0 starts at $51,890 and the Supra 3.0 Premium I6 costs $55,040. Expect prices to go up for the 2023 model year. The new Supra goes on sale later this year.