Toyota has listened to sports car fans and customers who love the control and rewards offered by precisely timed manual gear shifts. As of 10 May 2023, the Toyota GR Supra is available in manual transmission. Power output has also been upped in the straight-six 3.0-litre engine – increasing from 250kW to 285kW. The benefit is both to the auto and the newly-introduced manual.

The introduction of the GR Yaris a couple of years ago, followed by the GR86 coupe, as well as the imminent launch of the GR Corolla have reinforced the special qualities that define the GR brand – cars that are born out of a passion for motoring and which draw directly on the world championship-winning expertise and experience of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing.

Since its launch in 2019, the GR Supra has been offered with a straight-six 250kW 3.0-litre engine matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission. While the car and its performance have received high praise worldwide from media and fans alike, perhaps inevitably the question of whether a manual gearbox would be available persisted – hence the introduction of the manual transmission.

Its addition to the line-up means Toyota now offers all four of its GR models available in South Africa with manual transmission and three pedals either as standard (GR Yaris, GR Corolla) or as an option (GR Supra, GR86).

True to the GR Supra’s thoroughbred engineering quality, this development has not been simply a matter of using an off-the-shelf solution. A new transmission, along with a new clutch has been engineered specifically to suit the power and torque characteristics of the GR Supra 3.0-litre engine.

The manual transmission installed in the GR Supra has been engineered and tuned specifically for use with the coupe’s straight-six engine. The engineering team was able to modify existing transmission housing, driveshaft and gear set and remove elements that were not required, such as the acoustic package, which further reduced weight.

At the heart of the transmission is a newly-engineered clutch with a larger diameter and reinforced diaphragm spring. With a larger friction area and a stronger spring, this new component has the high-performance capability appropriate for use with the GR Supra’s high-torque engine.

All GR Supra versions benefit from retuned suspension, introduced to optimise performance with the new manual transmission.

The measures include more rigid vulcanised rubber in the front and rear anti-roll bar bushes and re-tuned shock absorbers. The mechanical components in the electric power steering and the system’s operating parameters have also been re-tuned.

The GR Supra’s traction and braking have been optimised for operation with manual transmission. With an automatic, it’s possible to use second gear when pulling away uphill when opposite wheels are on surfaces with different grip levels. Progress is smooth with no rolling back or wheel slip.

With a manual gearbox, first gear has to be used and releasing the clutch brings a greater risk of wheel spin. To address the issue, Toyota engineers have tuned the car’s traction control (TRC) to achieve smooth operation like that experienced with the automatic. The system is also optimised for the GR Supra’s characteristic high engine torque, wide tyres and rear-wheel drive.

The car’s behaviour when accelerating out of a corner is a key element in the “Fun to Drive” quality Toyota has developed for the GR Supra. For the new manual version, the traction control has again been the focus of measure to ensure an ideal balance of agility and stability when exiting a corner on the throttle. TRC intervention has been calibrated to maintain stability – the car keeping faithfully to the driver’s intended line – while allowing the right amount of power for a sporty feeling.

The ambition to make the GR Supra fun to drive in the most demanding scenarios has helped inspire the introduction of a new Hairpin+ function. This is designed to allow more freedom and reward specifically when taking tight bends on an uphill gradient (more than 5%) with a high-friction road surface.

More “free” wheel spin can make such routes more enjoyable to drive, so Toyota has optimised engine torque control to allow a greater difference in the degree of wheel spin on the left and right-side tyres.

A highly agile vehicle with high peak friction tyres may be sensitive to sudden “snap-off” oversteer – something that is hard to control with the car’s vehicle stability control (VSC) alone. To counter this behaviour, an anti-roll programme (ARP) has been adopted for both the manual and automatic versions of the GR Supra. This intervenes at an earlier point with the VSC to cover any sudden loss of grip when the car’s high-response suspension setting is used.

In addition, the Track mode has been tuned to allow for easy drifting with freedom of throttle control. The vehicle remains agile, but the there is less risk of spinning thanks to specific engine and torque control.

Fitting the new manual gearbox and new 19-inch alloy wheels saves 21.8kg over the outgoing AT model.

The changes to accommodate the new manual transmission in the GR Supra were not confined to the powertrain. Close attention was also paid how the new system could be accommodated in the driver’s cockpit.

This was not simply a matter of changing one shift lever for another; consideration had to be given to ensuring the gear knob was optimally placed for precise, rapid and rewarding gear changes.

The existing centre console design allowed insufficient clearance between the shift lever and the air conditioning control panel. To achieve the perfect ergonomics, the console unit and the control for drive mode selection have been redesigned. In addition, the lever ratio has been changed and the effort required to make shifts and engage reverse gear has been adjusted.

The revised layout provides a comfortable 42mm clearance between the shift knob and air conditioning panel.

The feel of the gear shift in the hand and the weight of operation are part of the human sensory connection with the car, so attention has been paid to the weight and shape of the gear knob and the quality of shift engagement. As a result, Toyota adjusted the effort level to engage reverse and opted for a heavier gear knob (200g) for a more pleasing inertia effect when used.

The GR Supra range also benefits from new paintwork options with the addition of Sapphire Blue and Iridescent Metallic Grey, while Ice Grey, Prime Silver and Grand Blue Metallic have been discontinued along with Matte Storm Grey. The GR brand hues of White, Red and Black remain on offer.

From a model line-up point of view, Matte Grey and Track editions have reached the span of their production and the GR Supra is currently available in two model suffixes in South Africa: Manual (R1 417 500) and Auto (R1 451 800).

A 5-services/100 000km service plan is provided as well as a 3-year/100 000km Warranty. Customers can also purchase extended service plans via their Toyota dealer.