Picture a bag of pick and mix, and you’re pretty close to summarising what it’s like to drive the GR Supra in manual form. The first and most glaring facet of this car, is the gearbox, which is suitable really because it’s the main point of interest. It feels every bit the afterthought that it so clearly was when it was crowbarred into this car. Even from a superficial standpoint, the layout of the redesigned centre console is clunky and difficult to navigate. But when you’re on the move it’s similarly disjointed.
The rest of the Supra was so clearly intended to work with the automatic gearbox that the manual simply doesn’t fit. The ‘box itself doesn’t offer much to shout about either. The shift is far from slick and the clutch is long and a little vague. Ultimately it works to take away from the performance of the car, acceleration is stunted by the need to figure out gear changes that feel neither smooth nor natural, while you can forget any chance of heel and toe, because the pedals are still laid out for automatic driving – the implementation of rev matching here is justified. You can’t help but think that the best version of the Supra is by far and away the automatic.
That being said, there is still plenty to enjoy about the GR Supra. That 3.0-litre engine is heavy, but brutishly powerful, sending all 340PS (250kW) and 500Nm (369lb ft) to the rear wheels, which feels as alarming as you might think, especially when conditions become anything other than bone dry. A sprint from 0-62mph is manageable in 4.6 seconds with the manual, and the low-down shove of the engine delivers a tangible kick in the back. Power delivery is on the peaky side. That muscular engine simply struggles to contain itself, especially if you’re a little exuberant with the throttle pedal. Don’t be surprised to find the wheels spinning up into third and even fourth gear in damp conditions, and be prepared to catch some aggressive snaps even with the traction control switched on.
Despite its dynamic looks, the GR Supra doesn’t feel particularly well connected when it comes to cornering either. The rear-end grunt overwhelms any semblance of balance there may be in the chassis, while the steering never quite feels precise. Coercing a touch of oversteer is easy enough to accomplish with a twitch of your right foot, which does allow you to kick on through slower-speed corners with satisfying levels of flair, but there’s no real excitement to be found in the higher-speed stuff. The ride on the other hand is more GT than sportscar. It’s smooth and compliant, especially on the smaller 18-inch wheels, and actually, the Supra feels better suited to longer-distance cruising than short sharp bouts of country driving.
The same can be said for the sound of the engine, too, which is just a bit dreary. For all the power it produces, it doesn’t deliver it with any soul. Stretch it to the very top of the rev range and you will get more of a howl from that in-line six, but it never quite excites in the way you would have thought it might. Down with Petrol Particulate Filters.