We recently had an opportunity to spend a day with Toyota’s sub-brand, Gazoo Racing at Zwartkops Raceway. On the agenda was sampling the all-new GR Corolla as well as the rear-wheel-driven Supra with a six-speed manual transmission. Siya Mbaduli shares his thoughts after getting to grips with the sleek model.
What are we driving?
Being spoilt for choice and having to pick between the GR Corolla or the GR Supra, I decided to go with the wolf in another wolf’s clothing, the now manual Toyota GR Supra. Before I got the chance to get in the driver’s seat, GR driving instructors gave us a sighting lap on the short but technical Zwartkops circuit, giving us key information on where to brake, accelerate and most importantly how to cut certain corners without having an impromptu meeting with the barriers that lined its boundaries.
Finally, with keys in hand, it was time to separate men from boys, women from girls and salt from vinegar. With approximately ten drivers ready to burn rubber on the track, it was all systems go. Looking back, I was drawn into choosing the GR Supra first, since the allure of that 3,0-litre direct injection, turbocharged straight six-cylinder engine is hard to beat and made my bones rattle every time I put my foot down.
Why is the Toyota GR Supra MT Significant?
The first Toyota Supra sports coupe was introduced in the late 1970s as a 6-cylinder extension of the Celica line. It aimed to compete with the successful Datsun/Nissan Z at the time. The Supra enjoyed healthy sales over four generations but faced declining buyer interest in the 1990s due to the rise of SUVs and a decline in demand for sports cars and 2-seat GT sports coupes. As a result, Toyota discontinued the Supra nameplate after the Mk IV Supra’s production ended in 1998.
However, under the leadership of auto-racing enthusiast Akio Toyoda, Toyota sought to inject excitement into its product lineup. The company collaborated with BMW and Gazoo Racing to develop an all-new fifth-generation Supra for the 2020 model year, marking the return of the Supra after a 22-year hiatus. The GR Supra, now in its fourth year on the market, responds to the demands of enthusiasts by introducing a manual transmission option. This move addresses a key feature that many enthusiasts have been eagerly advocating for.
With two cogs less than the more expensive ZF automatic, time behind the wheel of the Supra MT feels significantly more rewarding. As with many three-pedal models, all-out lap times, as much as a bragging right they are, are not the purpose of their existence. That being said, with exactly the same power outputs, the model is still brutally fast when collecting speed and equally as competent when it comes to all grades of curves at Zwartkops.
What’s new on the Toyota GR Supra MT?
In short, the 2023 variant of the GR Supra comes with a six-speed manual transmission and a clutch pedal, both conveniently positioned for the left hand and foot. These mechanical elements offer a notably different driving experience compared to the eight-speed automatic gearbox. The manual transmission is well-designed, featuring a small and low-slung shifter that feels comfortable in the hand with minimal play. As already mentioned, with two fewer gears than its automatic counterpart, the GR Supra MT comes with taller gears ratios which find the middle ground of speed and acceleration.
What does the Toyota GR Supra cost?
Pricing for the Toyota GR Supra manual transmission is set at R1 488 400, bear in mind that this specific model produces 285 kW at 5 800 – 6 500 r/min and has a claimed 0-100 km/h time of 4,1 seconds. Shifting our focus to the eight-speed quick-shifting automatic transmission which is priced from R1 524 400, the automatic variant also produces the same amount of power as the manual option which is 285 kW and 500 N.m at 1 800 – 5 000 r/min.
What are the Toyota GR Supra’s rivals?
The GR Supra’s main rival is the BMW M240i Coupe, which makes the same amount of power (285 kW and 500 N.m). Other vehicles that would be pitted against the Supra are the Mercedes AMG C43 Coupe, Porsche 718 Cayman and Ford’s Mustang.
The 2023 GR Supra is a classic and iconic sports car with a long-standing reputation in its nameplate. It features a turbocharged inline-six engine, rear-wheel drive, and two doors, and comes paired with a manual transmission. This combination makes it a standout driver’s car. As the flagship of Toyota’s three-strong GR performance-car lineup, the 2023 GR Supra continues the tradition of providing an enjoyable sports coupe driving experience that spans nearly half a century.
While some drivers may see shifting a manual transmission as an unnecessary effort, for enthusiasts who appreciate the opportunity to engage more with the driving process, the manual transmission is essential for establishing a deeper connection with the vehicle. Welcome back Toyota.