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It May Be Cliched, but the Toyota Supra Deserves a Manual

The manual transmission has been dying for a variety of reasons, such as fuel efficiency, performance and a simple lack of buyer interest. While I’m sad to see it go, I’d argue that its demise is overhyped and that most cars don’t need a manual.

That said, the Toyota Supra is seriously missing out by not having one.

I recently had the chance to drive the new Supra, and I was blown away. I was pretty skeptical at first about a BMW that’s wearing Toyota clothes — but after only a few minutes behind the wheel, I was a zealous convert. The Supra felt light, spry and amazingly quick on the back roads of Maryland — and despite having less power (officially) than its Z4 M40i brethren, it felt much faster. The exhaust made all of the right crackles and pops, putting goofy grins on your face whenever you laid into the throttle.

It was fun to drive in all of the right ways, exactly the way a sports car should be. Ultimately, I thought it drove like the Mazda Miata‘s older brother. However, a 6-speed manual transmission would have taken the driving experience to the next level, and it’s a shame that the Supra doesn’t have one.

While the Supra is a fantastic car, it’s begging for more connection with the driver. Despite accurate steering feel and a very competent automatic transmission, it often felt like someone else was in charge. Even using the manual mode with paddle shifters, the Supra is almost too good for most drivers. It goes where you want it to go, but it can feel like giving orders to a subordinate rather than driver and machine working together as a team.

Toyota has said that the Supra doesn’t get a 6-speed because they don’t want it to step on the 86, but that’s utter nonsense. The Toyota 86 is almost half the cost of the Supra, and it’s twice as slow. The cars exist in completely different strata, making this like saying Porsche doesn’t want to step on the toes of the Boxster by improving the way the 911 drives.

Despite the fact that Toyota has said that it could happen if demand is there, I don’t see it as a possibility. The Supra is destined to be a low-volume seller because it’s a sports car. Unfortunately, the demand would likely have to be incredible to justify developing a manual option.

At the end of the day, I believe that a manual transmission would make a world of difference for the Toyota Supra. It might not be as fast as the automatic, but I think that it would add just enough of a connection to the driver to make the Supra the definitive sports car to buy under $100,000. Here’s hoping for a future where that happens. Find a Toyota Supra for sale

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1 COMMENT

  1. Toyota looks like a sclerotic, conservative company that seems to be getting consumed by their own bureaucracy. They are the biggest car company on the planet, but are too fearful (or uninterested in anything but big bucks business cases) to make a sports car on their own – therefore buying the Z4 from BMW and the BRZ from Subaru (for the 86). The decision to not even invest in making a manual transmission for the car looks like it will indeed relegate it to ‘low volume’. If it had a manual in the first place, they could have probably sold more of them. 


    Yeah, I hear the common internet wisdom that ‘no one buys manuals anymore’, which is absolutely true for transportation module appliances, but maybe not so much for what is supposed to be a true ‘sports car’? I would have gladly spent the money on a Supra (even if it is a BMW in drag) – but only if it came with a manual. Instead I bought a new BRZ, and and kept my 2015 Mustang GT (for a total of about what a new Supra would have cost).

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