The Revival of the Manual Transmission: Shifting through the 2023 Toyota Supra GR

In an era of rapid technological advancements and an ever-growing shift towards CVT’s and EV’s, the 2023 Toyota Supra GR emerges as what could be the last-ditch effort to appease driving enthusiasts and manual transmission aficionados. Toyota heard our please and responded by reintroducing the manual transmission option, rekindling the passion of hands-on driving experiences, with its iconic nameplate renowned for its affordable performance, power, and style.

It's no secret that the 2023 Toyota Supra GR has garnered its fair share of attention in the automotive world, but often for reasons that may not resonate with the typical owner's daily driving needs. Many automotive journalists have voiced their contempt for the Supra when it comes to its performance on the track, critiquing aspects that are of minimal relevance to the everyday driver. However, we recognize that the vast majority of Supra owners will never set foot on a racetrack and instead seek a thrilling yet practical daily driving experience. With this understanding, our review takes a different approach, focusing more on how the 2023 Toyota Supra GR, equipped with the 6-speed manual transmission, performs in real-world scenarios, addressing the aspects that we think align with the average owner's daily life and driving habits.

The Toyota Supra was reintroduced in late 2019 as a 2020 model, capturing the hearts of automotive enthusiasts worldwide with its sleek design and promise of spirited performance. With the addition of the six-speed intelligent Manual Transmission option for 2023, it has taken the driver experience to a whole new level. This is not merely a transmission choice; it's a testament to Toyota's commitment to preserving the joy of driving. The executives at Toyota heard your cries and they delivered.

The Manual Transmission option is available for both the Supra 3.0 and 3.0 Premium models, giving drivers the freedom to choose the level of engagement they desire. With a responsive gear shift, drivers can now feel more connected to the road. The 2023 Supra GR is not just a car; it's a driving experience that reminds us of the pure essence of piloting a sports car.

The improvements made to the 2023 Toyota Supra GR's 6-speed manual transmission not only enhance its high-performance capabilities but also play a significant role in making novice drivers feel more experienced and in control. At the heart of these improvements lies a newly engineered large diameter clutch with a reinforced diaphragm spring. This component, with its larger friction area and a stronger spring, is well-suited to handle the GR Supra's high-torque engine, ensuring a smooth and confident engagement, which could also extend the life expectancy of the clutch.

What truly sets this manual gearbox apart is the Intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) software. It's not just a manual transmission; it's an intelligent companion that prioritizes sporty performance. When upshifting, the iMT software optimizes engine torque precisely at the moment of clutch engagement and release, making gear changes feel seamless and responsive (less head and neck jerking). On downshifts, the software adds rev matching, ensuring consistent performance and preventing any jarring shifts. This technology is set as the default, but it also allows drivers to switch it off in Individual Drive Mode, giving them the freedom to customize their driving experience.

To further support a novice driver's confidence, the final drive ratio has been shortened. This adjustment results in a quicker response and gearing that aligns perfectly with sports car performance. The manufacturer's estimated zero-to-sixty time of 4.2 seconds is respectable and speaks to the improved performance and agility of the 2023 Supra GR with its manual transmission.

It's not just about performance; it's also about the ease of operation. Close attention was paid to the design of the manual shifter and its placement within the driver's cockpit. The lever ratio was carefully tuned to minimize the effort required for gear changes and engaging reverse gear. Additionally, the weight and shape of the shift knob, as well as the quality of shift engagement, were all meticulously defined to ensure a satisfying experience with every shift. Even ergonomics was taken into consideration, with adjustments made to the console unit and the position of the drive mode selector, creating a comfortable 1.7-inch clearance between the shift knob and the control panel.

The 2023 Supra GR doesn't stop at reintroducing the manual transmission. Toyota has also brought other updates to the table. The vehicle's exterior now boasts new colors and special editions, ensuring that it turns heads wherever it goes.

Beyond aesthetics, the 2023 Supra GR also benefits from important performance enhancements. All 3.0 models, whether equipped with an automatic or manual transmission, now feature a retuned suspension with revised shock absorbers. This not only improves roll balance but also enhances ride comfort, making it more suitable for both spirited driving and everyday use.

Toyota has also fine-tuned the mechanical components in the electric power steering, ensuring that the driver feels connected to the road, creating a more immersive and responsive driving experience. Also, all 3.0 models will come standard with an active rear sport differential, further enhancing the Supra's handling capabilities.

The GR Supra is not just about thrilling performance; it also prioritizes your safety with an array of intelligent features. As with all other Toyota vehicles, the Supra GR seeks to ensure safety and peace of mind. Its Pre-Collision System, enhanced with Pedestrian Detection, keeps an eye on the road ahead, ready to assist in avoiding potential collisions. Lane Departure Warning with Steering Assist ensures you stay on track, gently nudging you back into your lane if needed. Automatic High Beams provide optimal visibility during nighttime driving, adjusting to oncoming traffic automatically. And with Speed Limit Information, you're always aware of the posted speed limits, helping you drive within the legal boundaries.

With the available Driver Assist and Safety and Technology Packages, a suite of active safety technologies can be added enhance your driving experience. The Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) comes in handy with the less than optimal rear vision obscured by the low sloping roof-line, alerting you to vehicles approaching that might be concealed in your blind spot, making lane changes safer. When you're navigating tight spots or backing out slowly, the Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA) provides both audible and visual cues, giving you an extra set of eyes on approaching vehicles. (This comes in handy when parking between SUV’s and trucks.) These safety features in the GR Supra provide peace of mind, allowing you to enjoy your exhilarating drive with confidence.

In an age where autonomous vehicles and electric cars dominate the headlines, the introduction of the manual transmission in the 2023 Toyota Supra GR, is a refreshing reminder that the joy of driving is not yet extinct. It is a testament to the appeal of the human-machine connection, where the driver plays an active role in every twist and turn of the road.

The future of the manual transmission is still alive, thanks to vehicles like the 2023 Toyota Supra GR. As it paves the way for a new generation of driving enthusiasts, it stands as a symbol of hope for those who believe in the irreplaceable thrill of shifting gears, feeling the engine's power, and navigating the open road with skill and precision.

In essence, the 2023 Toyota Supra GR's 6-speed manual transmission has been designed with not only the seasoned enthusiast but also the novice driver in mind. These improvements not only elevate its performance capabilities but also make the art of driving a manual transmission sports car more accessible and enjoyable, instilling confidence and a sense of control for drivers of all experience levels.

Photo credit Toyota
Featured Image Photo Credit: Toyota