We laid our hands on the recently launched Toyota GR Supra manual, which we drove for a few days to bring you this review.
When the Supra was launched locally in 2019, we were impressed by the latest of its name. Of course, there were countless folks (mostly keyboard warriors) complaining about its BMW-based underpinnings. However, if you are going to collaborate with an automaker to build a RWD sportscar powered by an inline six, there are few better than BMW.
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Bowing Under Pressure?
The one trick that Toyota missed though, is that its latest Supra was offered solely with an automatic transmission. This left many driving enthusiasts wanting. Toyota were adamant that the market had shifted (pun completely intended) and that no one really buys manual sportscars any longer. However, the dissenting chorus persisted and we finally have a GR Supra manual.
Click here to read our BMW M240i xDrive review.
The GR Supra manual is offered alongside the automatic version, so there is still the option of the self-shifter transmission for those who prefer it. The new addition was introduced just a few weeks ago at the same event that introduced the GR Corolla. We had a brief taste of updated Supra, but an embargo at the time prevented us from writing about it.
Click here to read our initial impressions of the GR Corolla.
The GR Supra may already be a few years old, but the car seems to have cult following. Perhaps there is also a high degree of novelty as well. We didn’t see another like it during our week-long loan. Either way, little kids in malls, petrol-station attendants and car enthusiasts were all appreciative of the Supra. Not a one of them would have known it was the manual, or revised version, yet mobile phones snapped away and many thumbs were cast in our direction.
There hasn’t been a massive change to the GR Supra manual from a stylistic perspective. New alloys have the same design we’ve seen on the GR Yaris. The 19-inch hoops and manual gearbox shave almost 22 kg off when compared to the previous automatic. Really keen observers of the model may have noted the Sapphire Blue hue, a new shade offered along with Iridescent Metallic Grey.
Although exterior changes are few, there are a raft of under-the-skin revisions. The manual trans’ is the big one. But there are others which apply across the board. These include revised rear suspension mounts, recalibrated dampers as well as as reconfigured power steering feel. Oh, and power from the turbocharged inline-six has been bumped up from 250 to 285 kW.
In addition, the GR Supra manual has new ESC software and a slightly revised centre console so you don’t end up bashing your knuckles on the HVAC controls. Speaking of… The manual transmission is a ZF item. The components are, by and large, BMW sourced, but this same gearbox isn’t used in any BMW. It was configured especially for this vehicle. The final drive in the manual Supra is shorter than it is in the auto’.
On The Move
We are fans of manual sportcars, the few that are left, and boy does the manual-kitted Supra deliver. The added level of engagement was definitely worth the wait. Rowing up and down through the six ratios is a treat. It won’t matter one bit that this version is a few tenths slower from 0-100 km/h than the auto’ when you time the perfect downshift and heel-toe. Incidentally, there is a rev-match function that operates as standard. But in ‘sport’ mode you can turn it off, thankfully.
We spent almost every moment driving this Supra in the sportier setting for the added noise and sharper throttle response. We also chose an intermediate ESC setting. The latter lets the tail step out, but prevents any unplanned pirouettes, especially in the seemingly endless winter of the Cape.
If we are being picky, we’d say that the clutch action is a little long for our liking, but most won’t notice or mind. The feel through the shifter when selecting gears isn’t quite as precise as a Honda Type R, MX-5 manual or indeed the GR86. But hey, pizza is better than salad.
The other changes are also noticeable. The rear end seems to be more alert, more direct in its responses. The firmer bushes can be felt over road imperfections, but the pay-off through the twisties is worth the fractional loss of comfort. The Supra feels almost like a mid-engined car the way it turns in a rotates about its vertical axis, the rear tucking in and following obediently. This is a proper sportscar.
By introducing the GR Supra manual, Toyota SA has ensured that each model in its GR line-up (GR86, Yaris and Corolla) all have manual versions. Kudos Toyota, not many brands can boast the same of their performance portfolios. As a driving machine and a sportscar this latest Supra has few peers. However, the biggest problem with the Supra is the existence of the BMW M2.
The BMW’s appearance may not be to all tastes, but it also comes with a six-speed manual transmission, rear-wheel-drive and over 50 kW above what the Toyota offers. We’ve driven the latest BMW M2 and it is really impressive. Add in the practicality of two rear seats and a usable boot and you’ll not be surprised to see them outnumber Supras on the road by some margin.
Model: Toyota GR Supra Manual
Price: R1 488 400
Engine: 3,0-litre inline six, turbocharged
Transmission: six-speed manual, RWD
Max power: 285 kW
Max torque: 500 N.m
0-100 km/h: 4,4 seconds
Top speed: 250 km/h
Fuel consumption: 8,9 L/100 km