In response to the fervent cries of sports car enthusiasts and those who relish the precision and thrill of manual gear shifts, Toyota has unveiled an exciting update for its GR Supra model. The already potent straight-six 3.0-liter engine has undergone a power boost, elevating its output from 250kW to an impressive 285kW. This power infusion is a boon for both the automatic and the newly-introduced manual variants.
Toyota's commitment to the sports car domain has been unmistakable in recent years. With the introduction of the GR Yaris a couple of years ago, followed by the sleek GR86 coupe, and the impending arrival of the GR Corolla, the Japanese automaker has been steadily reinforcing the unique characteristics that define the GR brand. These are cars birthed from a deep-seated passion for motoring, drawing directly from the world championship-winning expertise of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing.
Since its inception in 2019, the GR Supra has been available with a robust straight-six 250kW 3.0-liter engine, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. While the car's performance has garnered universal acclaim from both the media and avid fans, the persistent question of whether a manual gearbox would ever be on the table has finally been answered, with the introduction of the manual transmission.
With the inclusion of the manual transmission, Toyota's GR lineup in South Africa now boasts all four models available with the thrilling option of manual transmission and the allure of three pedals. These options are either standard, as seen in the GR Yaris and GR Corolla, or available as an option for the GR Supra and GR86.
This development, in line with the GR Supra's tradition of thoroughbred engineering excellence, is far from a mere off-the-shelf solution. A brand-new transmission, specially crafted clutch, and precision engineering have been meticulously employed to align with the power and torque characteristics of the GR Supra's 3.0-liter engine.
The manual transmission integrated into the GR Supra has been expertly fine-tuned to harmonize with the coupe's potent straight-six engine. The engineering team has undertaken the modification of the existing transmission housing, driveshaft, and gear set while shedding unnecessary elements, such as the acoustic package, to further reduce weight.
At the heart of this new transmission lies a meticulously engineered clutch, boasting a larger diameter and a reinforced diaphragm spring. With an increased friction area and a sturdier spring, this new component perfectly complements the high-performance nature of the GR Supra's high-torque engine.
The enhancements don't stop there, as all versions of the GR Supra have benefited from a suspension retuning, tailored to optimize performance with the new manual transmission. This includes the integration of more rigid vulcanized rubber in the front and rear anti-roll bar bushes, along with re-tuned shock absorbers. Furthermore, mechanical components in the electric power steering system have been meticulously recalibrated to ensure optimal performance.
In the realm of traction control, the GR Supra's system has been fine-tuned to align with the nuances of manual transmission operation. Unlike the automatic counterpart, which can use second gear when ascending uphill on surfaces with varying grip levels, the manual gearbox necessitates the use of first gear, increasing the risk of wheel spin during clutch engagement. Toyota's engineers have tackled this challenge by optimizing the car's traction control (TRC) to replicate the smooth operation experienced with the automatic transmission. The system now caters specifically to the GR Supra's high engine torque, wide tires, and rear-wheel drive configuration.
When it comes to braking agility and stability, Toyota has left no stone unturned. The GR Supra's behavior during corner exit acceleration is pivotal to the "Fun to Drive" ethos that Toyota has meticulously cultivated for this model. For the new manual version, the traction control system has been fine-tuned to strike a perfect balance between agility and stability when exiting a corner under throttle. TRC intervention has been expertly calibrated to maintain stability, keeping the car faithful to the driver's intended line while delivering the right amount of power for an exhilarating sporty feel.
To elevate the thrill factor further, Toyota has introduced a new Hairpin+ function. This feature is designed to provide drivers with more freedom and exhilaration when tackling tight bends on steep uphill gradients with high-friction road surfaces. This optimization of engine torque control allows for varying degrees of wheel spin on the left and right-side tires, enhancing the driving experience on challenging routes.
Addressing the potential challenge of "snap-off" oversteer, a phenomenon common in highly agile vehicles with high-friction tires, Toyota has implemented an anti-roll program (ARP) for both the manual and automatic versions of the GR Supra. This intervention occurs earlier in conjunction with the vehicle stability control (VSC), mitigating sudden loss of grip when the car is in its high-response suspension setting.
Moreover, the Track mode has been expertly fine-tuned to facilitate controlled drifting with precise throttle modulation. The vehicle remains agile while minimizing the risk of spinning, thanks to meticulous engine and torque control.
In a bid to shed weight and enhance performance, the integration of the new manual gearbox and 19-inch alloy wheels has resulted in a weight reduction of 21.8kg compared to the outgoing automatic model.
The changes brought about by the introduction of the manual transmission extend beyond the powertrain. Toyota has given careful consideration to the ergonomics of the driver's cockpit, ensuring the gear knob is optimally placed for rapid and precise gear changes. This has led to a redesign of the console unit and the control for drive mode selection, providing a comfortable 42mm clearance between the shift knob and the air conditioning panel. The weight and shape of the gear knob have also been fine-tuned to deliver a satisfying feel during gear shifts, with a heavier gear knob (200g) chosen to enhance the tactile experience.
In terms of aesthetics, the GR Supra range now offers new paintwork options, including Sapphire Blue and Iridescent Metallic Grey, while discontinuing Ice Grey, Prime Silver, and Grand Blue Metallic, along with Matte Storm Grey. Classic GR brand colors such as White, Red, and Black remain available, alongside the eye-catching Striking Yellow. Customers can select from classic black or a sporty black & red accent interior.
As for the model lineup, the Matte Grey and Track editions have reached the conclusion of their production cycles, leaving two model suffixes for the GR Supra in South Africa: Manual (R1'488'400) and Auto (R1'524'400). Toyota ensures peace of mind with a 5-services/100 000km service plan and a 3-year/100 000km warranty, with the option to purchase extended service plans through authorized Toyota dealers.
In summary, the manual transmission-equipped Toyota GR Supra embodies a relentless pursuit of driving perfection, aligning its impressive power with precision engineering, enhanced traction control, and an array of performance-focused features. It's a testament to Toyota's unwavering commitment to delivering an exhilarating and engaging driving experience for enthusiasts across South Africa and beyond.