First Drive: Toyota GR Supra 3.0 Manual 2022 Review

Is the addition of a manual gearbox option the key to unlocking the GR Supra’s potential..?
06th June 2022
Dan Trent



Like a Japanese Ford Mustang, over its various iterations the Toyota Supra has always offered serious power for a relatively attainable price, the unapologetically macho image all part of the deal. In that muscle car mould, Supras have never been about dancing about on track and more about easy tuneability, pumped-up style and a rebellious, street racer vibe immortalised on screen by video games and Fast & Furious.

Given the last Supra’s turbocharged six-cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive were among its defining characteristics, a partnership with BMW was an obvious collaboration for this modern reinvention. Ignore those snubbing the GR Supra as a Z4 in a Kimono, too, because if the difference between the Supra existing or not is a bit of shared tech then what are a few BMW bits between friends. With little emotional overlap beyond those pooled resources, Toyota has successfully made the Supra its own. This new manual version is aimed straight at traditionalist enthusiasts denied such an option elsewhere, and it could well be your last chance to stir a stick shift on a modern car with a big internal combustion engine up front and the driven wheels behind you.

We like

  • Muscular looks
  • Equally burly driving style
  • Fun for the right reasons

We don't like

  • ‘Yeah, but it’s a BMW’ smart arses
  • On the hefty side
  • Engine seems a bit muted



Heavily influenced by the stunning FT1 concept of 2014, the Supra’s looks combine the classic long bonnet and rear-set cabin of traditional sporting coupes like Toyota’s own 2000GT. It has an unmistakably Japanese aesthetic, with hints of Samurai armour and anime Gundam fighting robots. There’s a lot going on, put it that way, with perhaps just a smidge too much metal above the front wheels to be totally successful, while the blanked out ‘vents’ on the rear haunches also have a disappointing whiff of fakery.

It looks great from the rear three-quarter, though, the bodywork wrapped tightly round bulging wheelarches while the double-bubble roofline and kinked up bootlid seemingly ripple like living tissue. It’s the perfect expression of a macho vibe that those associating automatic gearboxes with automotive emasculation can get on board with. This new transmission option seemingly realises Akio Toyoda’s dream that the Supra should satisfy those with a love of driving for its own sake.

Performance and Handling


When specified in its standard form Toyota claims a near 40kg weight saving over the automatic, which is now only offered in Pro trim with its heavier power-adjustable seats and other luxuries. Delving deeper into the specs suggests a little smoke and mirrors here, and if you want a lighter Supra the 2.0 four-cylinder is the only one you’d describe as athletic, something that was noticeable on the tight and twisty Monteblanco track where we got to try the new manual. 340PS (250kW) and 0-62mph in just 4.6 seconds sound pretty impressive on paper, but even with a shorter final drive the manual is three tenths slower than the auto and never quite punches you in the gut the way its looks suggest it might.

Fear not, though, because the turbocharged, BMW-sourced engine is a known quantity to respected tuners like Litchfield and many others, any one of whom can easily unleash the beast within. This may be something to explore further down the line when it’s your name on the V5 and not the finance company’s, but the foundations are more than up to it. The Supra in standard form offers a broad operating range from relaxed GT through to proper, rear-driven thug. If you want a serious sports car that’s all about balance and fingertip steering response buy an Alpine A110 or a 718 Boxster.

But where many of that ilk hide their true talents way beyond what you can responsibly enjoy on the road, the Supra instead seeks to entertain at a more realistic pace. The brawny response of that big engine, the well-telegraphed weight shifts through your hips and the lazy transitions into oversteer as mild or wild as you feel comfortable with are actually far more fun in a lot of ways. The more intimate connection to all this through the manual gearbox is a natural fit, and explains Toyota’s confidence in the expected healthy sales split when it becomes available.     



Toyota’s GR division takes pride in sweating the things that matter to keen drivers, and details like driving position, control weights and response have all been fastidiously refined. They even went through three different iterations of shift knob weight in order to get the correct sense of inertia as you stir it around the gate, settling on the heaviest with the cheerful admission “this was the only place we added weight to the car.”

The bodywork wraps around the structure, so the driver feels tightly clothed within the cabin, with a low seating position and chunky centre console with rearranged switchgear so as to get the perfect position for the shifter. The lighter, manually adjustable seats of the standard trim level feel just fine, but if you want to upgrade your manual Supra to Pro spec for a more grown-up, GT-like vibe you can still do that. The tan leather of the one we drove did at least lighten up what is an otherwise dark interior.

Technology and Features


Toyota clearly wants to position the 3.0 manual as the (relatively) stripped back and purist model in the Supra line-up, explaining the decision to offer it in standard as well as Pro trim levels. The former is still well equipped but loses a little in the way of driver assistance tech with the lack of adaptive cruise control or head-up display and Alcantara trim rather than leather. It is still significantly better equipped than the 2.0, though, with blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alerts. Without wishing to fall into the trap of ‘spot the BMW bits’ the origins of the infotainment system are obvious enough, though given the inherent quality of the base material that’s no bad thing. It’s got all the connectivity and functionality you could wish for.

Of more significance are the mechanical bits, like the active locking differential and adaptive dampers, all of which underpin that appealingly broad bandwidth of character. Among the neat new features such as recalibrated stability control with increased throttle adjustability in the sportier modes, there’s also a nifty Hairpin+ function, which detects steep uphill corners that might unweight the inside rear wheel and adjusts the torque split across the differential accordingly.



The Supra is a very distinctive and likeable car, but one you have to choose over a lot of very, very desirable alternatives before committing to its charms. Does the manual gearbox add enough to the experience to bump it up the list? As we’ve seen with many modern performance cars the reality doesn’t always live up to the hype, given modern engines and the various control systems around them have long been calibrated to work best with automatics of one type or another. And that goes for everything from manual BMW M cars to Jaguar F-Types and even recent Aston Martins.

Toyota has done its best but, even in its sportiest modes, the engine doesn’t quite have the response or zing to deliver a truly inspirational manual experience in the way a 718 Boxster does with razor sharp throttle response from its unfairly maligned turbocharged flat-four. The self-blipping Intelligent Manual Shift system is clever and smooths things out, but when you try and do it yourself, the inertia within the engine and lag between throttle pedal and response make it hard to match the revs, which for many manual fans is all part of the fun.

Clearly, the world is better for the option of a manual Supra, much as it is for the existence of the car itself. But a lingering sense of ‘almost, but not quite’ was impossible to extinguish after this all-too-brief first go. We’ll hope for a longer one in due course in the hope the bond between car and driver that this transmission should offer has been properly realised.    


Engine 3.0-litre turbocharged in-line six-cylinder, petrol
Power 340PS (250kW) @ 6,500rpm
Torque 500Nm (369lb ft) @ 1,600-2,500rpm
Transmission Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Kerb weight 1,577kg (EU, with driver)
0-62mph 4.6 seconds
Top speed 155mph (limited)
CO2 emissions 198g/km
Price £53,495 (Pro £55,995)