It is almost a universal law that whenever someone anywhere in the world writes a review of a performance car, there legally has to be someone who pipes up in the comments to say "it would be better with a manual", even if that is patently not the case.
The Better With a Manual brigade will put forward all the reasons in the world why they would buy this car immediately if it had a manual transmission, yet when a carmaker does make a car with a manual, they are almost entirely ignored by the buying public.
Ford dropped a manual option from the best-selling vehicle in New Zealand (the Ranger ute) because the uptake was tiny and even report that the percentage of manual sales of Mustangs are in the single digits annually.
So when Toyota New Zealand announced it was making the GR Supra available locally with a manual transmission, the excitement from the Better With a Manual brigade was palpable. So did they all rush out and buy it?
It might surprise you to know that, nah, they didn't. In fact, as of my time with the manual Supra, registrations were still very firmly in the single digits.
When Toyota New Zealand announced it was making the GR Supra available locally with a manual transmission, the excitement from the Better With a Manual brigade was palpable.
Seems that putting your money where your mouth is not something they are interested in, which is a shame, because in the case of the Toyota Supra, they were very right indeed - the Supra is much, much better with a manual.
But that is not because it makes driving the car more involving (which it does), rather it is the fact that it really doesn't actually need a manual transmission at all.
Okay, so that doesn't really make sense - what the Supra really doesn't need in daily driving is more than about three gears. The flexibility and meaty torque from the 3.0-litre BMW twin-turbo inline six is so chunky and ever-present that changing gears is really only a necessity when you come to a complete halt, and even then it will happily lug away in second if you are THAT lazy.
But, of course, the real purpose of that manual is the added driver engagement on a winding back road. And, luckily, it is utterly superb here too.
While it doesn't have the slick, mechanical action of, say, a Mazda MX-5 manual (but then, what does?), the ZF transmission is quick and precise, but does retain a sense of 'rubberiness' that BMW manuals have (it is manufactured by ZF for BMW, but 'tuned' by Toyota...) meaning it isn't quite as engagingly tactile as the other members of the GR family.
Even though the shift knob is still clearly a BMW unit, it does look less glaringly out of place than the automatic shifter.
The six-speeder retains the same gear ratios as the last-gen F87 BMW M2 and F80 M3 and it saves 17kg over the 8-speed automatic Supra, so you can justify having that pie for lunch after all.
Toyota had to slightly redesign the centre console to create a bit more knuckle space, but that is really the only change to the Supra, meaning it retains the same somewhat inconsistent interior the is nice, but not great, with areas of cheap feeling plastics amid the otherwise higher quality materials.
And even though the shift knob is still clearly a BMW unit, it does look less glaringly out of place than the automatic shifter.
The manual Supra is actually a wonderful blend of the best of both worlds - almost as easy to drive as the auto at low speed around town due to its big spread of torque, it is even more engaging on the open road, albeit in a slightly distanced BMW way.
If you are after the fastest Supra, then this isn't it - the auto will hit 100km/h in 4.1 seconds, while the manual takes 4.4 - but if you are after the most satisfying one, then it's the manual all the way.
There legally has to be someone who pipes up in the comments to say 'it would be better with a manual'
But there is one catch - while Toyota has priced the manual the same as the automatic, the fact that the manual is slightly less fuel efficient and has a higher CO2 output (9.9L/100km and 225g/km of CO2 versus 8.3 and 188) means that it cops a larger Clean Car fee - $4887.50 compared to the auto's $2760 charge - so you will be paying a small premium for the joy of shifting for yourself.
TOYOTA GR SUPRA
ENGINE: 3.0-litre turbo petrol inline six-cylinder
GEARBOX: 6-speed manual, RWD
CONSUMPTION: 9.9L/100km (3P-WLTP)