Sometimes, we all need a do-over. Barring completely unconscionable behavior—say, manslaughter, or putting insane ingredients like peas into your guacamole—we are not defined by our worst days. We’re all deserving of second chances. The 2023 Toyota GR Supra is one of the best automotive examples of this idea that I’ve encountered yet.
This has happened before in the world of cars. Automakers don’t always get it right on the first try. I remember when the 2009 Subaru WRX got a sizable power bump, more aggressive looks and a retuned suspension after critics and fanboys accused the then-new 2008 model of going “soft.” More recently, Porsche issued a mea culpa by throwing a flat-six back into the 718 Boxster and Cayman when American buyers failed to warm up to the turbo flat-four. Or even this year, when Tesla quietly conceded that the yoke steering wheel in the Model S and Model X is a terrible idea. Do-overs happen and sometimes they need to.
In the case of Toyota, it relaunched the Supra with significant help from BMW in 2019, but the resulting high-performance, two-seat sports car came only with an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Don’t get me wrong—that ZF8 gearbox is outstanding, probably the best conventional torque converter-based autobox ever created. But a real (gasoline-powered, anyway) sports car ought to have a stick shift. Anything else is like… well, peas in guacamole, I suppose.
For the 2023 model year, Toyota has corrected this unfortunate oversight even when BMW couldn’t be bothered on its side. The result is not only what the Supra should’ve been from jump street, but also one of the best sports cars you can buy right now, full stop.
(Full Disclosure: Toyota loaned me a 2023 GR Supra for a weekend with a full tank of gasoline.)
2023 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 MT
- Price: $55,650 base / $56,845 as-tested
- Engine: 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six, 382 hp, 368 lb-ft
- Transmission: 6-speed manual as-tested, 8-speed auto available, RWD
- Fuel Economy: 19 city/27 highway/21 combined
- Body Style: Two-door coupe
The story’s a pretty well-told one at this point. Gearhead CEO Akio Toyoda and other like-minded individuals at his company had wanted to bring the Supra back for years, but they all believed it needed an inline-six like the Supras of yore. Rather than spend a ton of money on a new engine and platform for a niche, low-volume sports car, Toyota approached BMW, which it turns out also wanted something more on par with the Boxster and Cayman.
Their team-up resulted in two cars, the new Z4 and the new Supra, more fraternal twins than identical ones. One is a convertible, one is a coupe, and there are some differences in engine and suspension tuning, but otherwise, they’re the same car. (This also leads to the somewhat jarring experience of seeing Toyota logos all over what is very obviously BMW’s iDrive software.) Both are available in turbocharged inline-four or inline-six configurations, but the latter is the one you really want because it packs a respectable 382 horsepower.
I’ll also say at the outset that I’ve always liked the new Supra. I get why it’s controversial; the looks aren’t for everyone, the wind buffeting issue is unforgivable and plenty of Toyota fans were turned off by the BMW guts. They wanted something homegrown. I think that’s a bit silly; if this is what takes to make modern sports cars, so be it, and complaining about getting a really great BMW sports car is like saying “Ugh, I can’t believe we have to eat at that really good steakhouse on someone else’s dime again!” Maybe I’d feel differently if Lexus made anything these days that can go toe-to-toe with an M3 and not get laughed at, but here we are.
Like I said before, the ZF8 automatic paddle-shift gearbox is the best auto ever made, in my estimation; it’s fast, it’s smooth, it can handle a ton of torque and it’s easier to live with than your average DCT.
But it’s not a manual. And while I tend to roll my eyes at the “no manual, no care” crowd for living in the wrong decade, you should be able to row your own damn gears on a two-seat sports car, especially one named Supra. Luckily, as of the 2023 model-year, now you can, and it’s a zero-cost option over the ZF8, so it’s a no-brainer, really.
It’s worth noting Toyota put some real effort into the manual gearbox for this car, as The Drive reported last year. This is not the six-speed manual BMW puts on the four-cylinder Z4 in other markets; it’s a ZF-manufactured gearbox designed to work with an assortment of other BMW inline-sixes but given a special parts assembly and tuning from Toyota. In other words, it’s a cousin to what you get in the current M3 and M4, but with its own unique designation for this car. That took some doing and I give Toyota credit for it.
So how does it drive? In a word, great. Great enough that your humble author was fairly pissed that he had to give it back, which doesn’t happen with a tremendous degree of regularity.
Throws on this six-speed gearbox are right in the Goldilocks range for a street car: not too short, not too long, and not much effort is needed but it’s not overly light, either. It’s super easy to find gears. Clutch operation raises no issues I can recall. I know manual gearboxes are dying, but it’s amazing how good they are these days, how forgiving and user-friendly they are now. I don’t want to claim this technology has hit its peak, but it feels like it’s close if not there already.
You also get the gift of automatic rev-matching, which is engaged by default but can be turned off via the infotainment system. Honestly, I kept it on the whole time. It’s seamless and fast and even makes around-town driving a bit easier. But if the heel-and-toe thing is your jam, it’s not a mandatory endeavor.
Needless to say, there is now a level of engagement present in the Supra that was always missing from the automatic car. This is what it always should’ve been. Probably, Toyota (and BMW) shouldn’t have bothered with an automatic at all. This gearbox unleashes potential that was always there, just hidden, held back.
The 382 horses you get from the Supra’s inline-six are more than adequate for highway passing, backroad shenanigans or track days (and it’s also closer to 400 hp at the wheels because BMW tends to sandbag its power ratings.) Make no mistake, this is a quick machine. I had the misfortune of driving it in and around New York City, and even on my usual testing grounds along the Palisades Parkway, it’s the kind of car that makes you angry speed limits are so low and everybody else around you isn’t driving with the same urgency you are. It also makes a great sound; I know BMW engine noises are kind of “fake” now and have been for a while, but in the EV era, I find myself caring much less.
Having said all that, the Supra walks a fine line between being a car you have to push to be fast and one you have to hold back; it’s right in the middle of both of those things. That’s a rare degree of balance in modern cars, I’ve found. I can’t call it visceral, but it’s never soft, either.
It’s also a superb handler, agile and reasonably small with tight and predictable steering. (I’ll also say Toyota’s suspension tuning gives you a ride that’s sporty but not overly punishing on garbage roads like too many of BMW’s own M cars are. German performance cars still feel like they’re tuned for countries that actually invest in their road infrastructure, unlike, uh, us.)
Inside, the cabin’s relatively cramped and not well-suited for the very tall. But the upside to getting a BMW-derived car is that it’s pretty nice in there, worthy of its $40,000+ price tag. The materials, leathers and switches all feel great to use, and BMW’s iDrive is one of the better control systems on the market. Now, that 8.8-inch touchscreen display is starting to feel surprisingly dated compared to the stuff that’s out there four years after the Supra’s release. But you’re buying this car for the driving dynamics, not the connected, automated, in-car subscription-driven multimedia experience we keep getting told is the future.
That’s another thing that was on my mind when I drove the Supra: it’s another car that feels like the best of now, or even 10 minutes ago. From the gas engine to the manual gearbox to the lack of focus on tech, it doesn’t presage where the auto industry is going next. If anything, it could be a symbol of what’s going to be lost in the coming transition to, and God forgive me for saying this, “electro-mobility.” There are valid reasons that’s coming, and I am genuinely excited about much of it, but it will also bring with it plenty of other changes customers may not be ready for.
This is why I’m not mad that Toyota turned to BMW for help with making the new Supra. If it keeps another great sports car on the road, does it really matter where the engine’s from or what the first letter of the VIN is? The Supra now competes directly with the new Nissan Z and the forthcoming Ford Mustang GT; both of these cars are heavily updated versions of their predecessors, not all-new, ground-up efforts. This is what we get for now until somebody figures out how to make a proper, engaging EV sports car that doesn’t weigh as much as an apartment complex.
The Toyota Supra isn’t the future. But to me, that’s okay. Because it’s still one of the most dynamic modern cars out there right now. When you’re in it, you’re too busy shifting gears, blowing past slower traffic, getting a little sideways in the corners and appreciating the power delivery of a good inline-six and a proper manual gearbox to care much about what happens after you climb out.
For however long you’re driving a manual Supra, you are living in the present. In today’s fast-paced and overly connected world, that is a gift unto itself.
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The overlooked but obvious and much less expensive alternative to this are the Toyobaru twins, BRZ and GR. Yes, they have much less hp, 228 vs. 382. But the BRZ/86 are as much if not more fun to drive, more ‘practical,’ and half the price. And have always been available with a manual transmission.
Forget the ‘numbers.’ Unless you’re a dedicated track rat where tenths of a second truly matter, most people who spout ‘numbers’ are usually armchair internet experts who’ve never actually driven the car they’re criticizing and probably not seriously in the market for one anyway. Quarter mile, hp, and the dreaded ‘0-60’ numbers are usually thrown around when bragging to strangers in bars or trying to impress someone down at the gym.
I don’t care about ‘numbers’ (except price, which comes straight out of my wallet). I care about how a car *feels* to drive, how it feels in the seat of my pants, whether it puts a shit-eating grin on my face every time I drive it, if it makes me want to go out and drive just for the hell of it without any particular destination. When I’m tooling down a winding New England country road, what I care about is if I’m having fun, not what the ‘numbers’ are.
I’ve been driving a 2019 BRZ for 4 years. I absolutely love it. Miata or BRZ, vanilla or chocolate. The cars are directly hard-wired into your central nervous system, a visceral connection to the road in a way most cars can’t even imagine. As Mazda says, ‘jinba ittai,’ ‘horse and rider as one.’ I often take it out with no particular place to go, just to row through the gears. Before the armchair experts start on about the ‘torque dip,’ for me the reality is I have yet to actually feel it in real world street driving. Yeah, I’ve seen all the ‘numbers’ and youtube videos. It might be measurable. But the seat of my pants can’t actually feel it, so I don’t care, and it certainly doesn’t get in the way of the near-orgasmic joy of driving it.
For those old enough to remember (and I am), the BRZ is a direct spiritual descendent of cars I drove, and loved, back in the stone-age 1970’s, the MGB-GT, Fiat 124, Opel GT, Triumph GT6. Sheer fun, pure joy, with double the hp of sports cars of the 70’s, infinitely better reliability and safety, and a hell of a lot more comfort to boot. I’ve taken the BRZ on 8 hour drives and have no complaints.
If supply chain issues ever get resolved I’d like to get the new second-gen BRZ. Just because it’s likely to be the last one, and some extra torque would be nice to have. But not ‘need’ to have. The new BRZ/86 are the true spiritual successor to the original 240Z in size, performance, feel, and cost. In the meantime I also have a 2015 Mustang GT when I want some old-school grunting torque and a flashback in time to high school days of the 70’s (yeah, I’m that old)(ugly too). The S550 Mustang is almost a factory resto-mod of the 1969/1970 Mustang in all the good ways, but with modern suspension, braking, comfort, and safety. And for less money than the Supra.
Toyota should get major kudos for making the effort to put a manual transmission in the Supra. The hell with the ‘numbers’ and whether or not it’s faster or slower than the automatic is besides the point. Who cares if a computer-controlled automatic can shift in 0.00015 nanoseconds if a manual is just more fun to drive?
The sun is setting on the age of fun cars, those with internal combustion engines and manual transmissions. The Challenger and Camaro are discontinued, and the S650 Mustang refresh has taken an ominous turn towards the EV future, and Ford has said the next ‘Mustang’ will be an EV something around 2029 (Mach-E anyone?). Soulless, anodyne, boring, autonomous battery powered transportation pods are coming. The future of personal mobility will largely be passionless appliances. If any of these cars float your boat, Supra, BRZ/GR, Mustang, Nissan Z (assuming you can find one) buy one now while you can. Their days are numbered, and once they’re gone, they almost certainly will never be back.
While I was still car shopping, the Supra was the only one I still considered even though, at the time, it was only offered in automatic.
Ultimately I settled on a BMW with a stick and never looked back. That, was, until they announced the manual Supra. Ultimately I’m still happy with my decision because I love the BMW but what could have been if they released THIS Supra a couple of years earlier…
I live near a large Army base and see a lot of these. The price is right for something small and fast for a lot of these guys.
I’m making over $13k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.
That is what I do… https://c2d.in/joblive76
what I’d really love to read is a comparison between the Manual GR Supra and the new (yes i know the chassis is still ancient) Nissan Z Performance.
Those are both cars that folks will likely be cross shopping, whether from a nostalgia standpoint or just as a 2 door sport coupe with a manual transmission. both have some polarizing design choices, and both make some compromises in their pursuit of threading the needle between classic design and modern performance.
In my eyes the Z has some subtle advantages, but they are colored by my priorities. i like that i can spec one for a significantly lower price, and i also like that the design is far more clean and less melty. it blends in just a little bit better than the Supra, even if the grill still isn’t my favorite. the Z also does not have the wind buffeting issue, which would be important to me, as i love nothing more than cruising with the windows down when the weather is perfect.
Of course the Supra is overall a faster and more technologically advanced machine, so if outright performance or fancier suspension setup is a priority, that might make one more partial to the GR. not to mention that the chassis is simply newer, which matters to some folks.
in the end, if you’re in the market for a 2 door coupe, i don’t think one can really go wrong with either of them
I should be a perfect customer for this. My current cars are a GT86 and a Z4 Coupe. Mash them both together and you get a badge engineered Toyota with a BMW straight six.
I also have a history of buying cars I don’t like the look of because they are great to drive (it’s subjective, but I don’t like how AW11 MR2s, NA Miatas, S1 Elise’s or GT86s look).
However, I can’t get over the fake-vented insane curviness of the new Supra. In that blue from some angles it doesn’t make me want to vomit, but that’s as good as it gets.
I want to want one, but I don’t.
I want a Cayman more, even though I found the driving experience no better than my Z4 and less engaging than my 86.
If I had to spend Supra money on a Supra sort of car it’d be a Lotus Evora, or Emira, when used prices start being a thing.
I really do love and want this, especially now that it’s got a proper transmission.
My issue is, let’s face it, BMW and most other German engines are still shit compared to the Toyota equivalent.
BMW haven’t changed their engineering philosophy to be more like Toyota, and they don’t intend to. So what you end up with is a silky powertrain with awesome performance that is basically a ticking time bomb.
One big thing that separated the Supra from its contemporaries was that it was a fast sports car with the upkeep costs and reliability of a Corolla. This BMW Supra is the farthest thing from that.
If this exact same car had the 3.5TT from the Lexus/Tundra, it would be significantly better and more worthy of the name.
V6 TT worked for the GTR, and it would have worked for the Supra too.
As a side note, why does no one talk about the hollow carpet fibers? Toyota used hollow carpet fibers in the MKIV Supra for added lightness. They were so proud of this that they published it in pretty much every ad for the car when it was new. They bragged about it so much that my 13 year old self found it hilarious.
Any worthy successor to the MKIV Supra should have hollow carpet fibers.
I want this sooo bad!
I haven’t driven or been in any BMW that makes me think it is in the ballpark of a PDK. The VW DSG is the closest. I guess PG finds the PDK is lacking. I would love to hear how this is better.
I haven’t owned a PDK, only manuals. I am solely basing this opinion off of friends cars (passenger or driver), or student cars (some of which I have driven). The Bimmers didn’t suck, but they were echelons below the competition, imho.
Boo! I am a lookie lieu too, no need for worry, I’m thinking it through…..Hard to do anything for anyone in this economy. Dealing flesh or chems seem to have flooded in and endangered certain eco systems. Local varmints fearing the broom for removal of their wakes fallout in previous years. Ride as many dragons ???? as possible, brag and boast, even claim that you nursed them when you didnt, it’s a great concept. What happened to khalisi after her vengeance and delusional rage for others took hold? Dragon kabob with singed weave on the side.
I think the ZF8 trumps most dual-clutch gearboxes, but Porsche’s PDK is the exception. I don’t count it as a traditional torque-converter-based auto, though, because it isn’t.
I’m honestly the opposite of the no manual no care gang and I find the SAVE THE MANUALS nonsense to be ridiculously overblown. As long as I live in the city my daily is going to be an automatic and while I’m halfway decent at driving stick the whole experience isn’t something that I like…lust after, I suppose. Part of that is generational, as I’m 32 and I more or less came up when automatics were becoming the default and when they stopped becoming something that held cars back and became a performance advantage.
HOWEVER…this was always a car that was begging for a manual, and honestly when it comes to two seaters that are entirely focused on driving, you’re leaving a lot of fun on the table if you’re not checking that box. Cars like this are inherently compromised, so what good is the little bit of extra convenience doing you? Nothing. It’s just making you less connected to the car.
It’s like an automatic Miata…or an automatic Boxster. You‘ve lost the plot at that point. Do you want an automatic Corvette? I don’t. These cars are built with one purpose in mind: driving. If I’m giving up all the functionality of a normal car to just focus on driving, I’m going all in.
I’m glad that the consensus seems to be that the manual has more or less made this car what it always could have been. I’ve always liked the styling of these and the BMW roots don’t bother me at all. The B58 might be the best six cylinder in the entire industry. It’s that good, and it’s a very rare example of the Germans building something that’ll last.
If I had 50 grand to blow on a weekend/track car this would be near the top of my list. I’m glad that it finally got the transmission it deserved all along. Like I said…I am far from a manual stan but in an application like this it’s the cherry on top of the sundae. This is a cool car and I hope this addition can quell some of the kvetching and help people enjoy it more for what it is.
Ahh want one of these sooo bad. Me and a buddy got a chance to drive an auto Supra belonging to his friend and both of us agreed the only thing missing was a stick. As fast as anyone could possibly need, the BMW B58 is a gem of motor, imo it sounds better than the S55. Suspension etc are all great. Drove this car wanting to hate it-still don’t like the front end-but I could overlook it if I could afford it-and the rest of the car besides the front end looks fantastic. Truly wish I had the money to buy one of these, though it barely fit me at 6’5″ so beware tall folks.
I think something to consider RE: the looks is that regardless if a certain faction of enthusiasts dislike it, there are plenty still that love it (already) and I think nostalgia will only paint this Supra in prettier and prettier colors as time goes on.
I like that blue color.
Wish I were in a position to have a two-seater “fun car”. I’d seriously consider it.
Thanks to you I have a new phrase to describe something I don’t like. The spoiler on the Supra? Like peas in guacamole. Excellent car, but I still haven’t accepted that spoiler. I’m a peace loving man, but never put peas in my guacamole.
I understand that building cars costs money but if someone wants a BMW they should buy a BMW, not slap a badge on it and sell it as a Toyota Supra.
The only time I accept badge engineering is when it’s bringing an automobile to a country that wouldn’t have otherwise gotten it.
For example. If Jeep started selling Suzuki Jimnys as Jeep Jimnys I’d have no problem with it though I’d likely rebadge it.
I was thinking of something similar; the Supra/BMW argument is like Jeep saying “it’s too expensive for us to design the next-gen wrangler, so we just dropped a sick looking body on top of a Suzuki Jimny, retuned the suspension, and slapped a bunch of Jeep logos on everything.”
Does anyone imagine the Jeep faithful would be very happy about that?
The Jeeple are cool with the Renegade, which is a rebadged Dodge covered with logos and trim pieces…
Ra looks much better in person imo
Need more dogo pictures
That picture is just adorable enough that Patrick might not get blacklisted from getting press cars in the future.
Do these sell in any sort of significant numbers, or are they just a halo car?
More of a Halo, slightly tarnished by a sub 400 H motor when even the Z at lest hits exactly that and the Camaro/Mustang V6’s were getting dangerously close to the Beemers output without the fear of boosted Bavarian time bomb engine architecture. The Supra in the mid nineties was around 330HP, you would think that 30 years later the Toyota group could have done a bit better.
Who cares, though? You’re never going to use that extra 20hp.
The best choice.
So for those of us who like manuals *and* convertibles, ignoring the fact that I’ve just bought the first and last new vehicle I ever anticipate buying, what’s the best choice?
Miata? New Mustang GT?
(It’s a cliche for a reason)
Uh. That aggressive string of ?’s was an emoji that apparently isn’t recognized haha. My kingdom for an edit button!
Oh look, an edit button! Nice work Mannish! You must be a RC member, or know where the Changlis are buried.
Unless you are over 6′ tall, in which case…
Well the best choice naturally will have it all, won’t embarass the kids (Uncle Buck), safety, alternate choices of fuel, and years later, teach some of the most important and basic responsibilities that go hand in hand with owning a vehicle. Maintenance and attention to “critical” but simple things to inspect before hitting the crank,key or button. Getting too comfortable with modern pleasantries could eliminate any reason to learn why tires,fluid levels (on ground or reservoir), visibility and full attention to the road belong in every drivers glove box or void in between the console and seat. Can anyone relate to dropping a phone down there? 14 times per week? How many of you reached and reached but never felt that phone? Or anyone after taking there eyes off the road?
In this sports car grouping the Mustang GT Premium Convertible would like be the ticket, Mustangs have recently made the lists of lingering on lots longest, so a 2022 might actually be a deal. 450 HP proper v8 with six speed manual would be pretty much the only choice for a vert.
So long as you are under 50. Anyone over 50 in a Mustang looks ridiculous.
Us old guys look equally silly in a Camaro convertible, so you could include that in your list of options.
lol, well, considering the average age of ‘muscle’ car buyers is over 50
including the Mustang, with an average age buyer of 53
apparently most of us ‘over 50’ (in my case WELL over 50) don’t give a crap how we ‘look’ driving the car. We’re too busy enjoying it and having fun, and couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks about how we ‘look’ driving one (except maybe some of them might be jealous because they’re not driving one)?
I still can’t get over the looks. I’ve tried. Sure it’s great to drive, but…ugh. Same with all the new BMWs.
Right with you on the looks, just not impressed. Otherwise, seems like a great sports car.
To be fair, pictures don’t always do a car justice (or too much justice) and I never see these on the road, so perhaps I’d like it better in situ. When the Maverick was introduced, I really liked the way it looked until I finally saw a few on the street and I hated it.
Guess it’s like fashion models: they frequently have some of the most oddly proportioned faces, but viewed through a lense, they’re transformed into beauty icons. Yet, you’d often walk right by them on the street and think nothing special. I was a camera assistant for a fashion photographer for about six months after college and I never got the knack of picking the faces that would just knock you out in a magazine. Maybe it’s that way with cars, too.
Seen a few, both on the road and in a dealership. It’s both lower and smaller than you might expect from press photos, which oft suggest the entire collection of exaggerated French curves is all in your face from all angles. In reality, a lot of it disappears into itself when you just walk up and look.
Here’s a better idea for the Camaro, let’s upgrade the classic, let tesla fire up the eco equivalent response to everything? I hate to say this, ???? but not really, the only reason foreign manufacturers are any kind of engineering metal shapers of times fast,well started with the assembly line. Don’t retire one of the beasts that pushed others to match, how about the wanderer LteS1a package: Prepared for no power or docks for charging, the solar panel will get several more miles with nothing more than the sun. Put the new cells in, hell how about a hydrogen cell as another way to get more miles with less dependent on 1 fuel but able to run on what you didn’t prep for. I really got to eat my own comments as the tesla playfully accelerated, much quicker, responsive and all the modern comforts only found in one’s bathroom. German and Italian machinery are top of the line, flashy, and suggest that you are not in my financial demographic position. It’s ok, I don’t care about the contours and curves, does it perform? With less? Costing less? What will the eco friendlier bow tie do to catch and pass the competition? I’m guessing that will not include scraping classic muscle and design. I bet they keep the same outlook as always: Well that’s great, ????, you got us, but look at this old thing we had in the back in development and case study. And I loved Toyota Trucks, Honda civics, Mitsubishi eclipses’ will always have a special place in the garage, but not up front or in the back, it’s off on the side under the tarp. Mustangs have one of the most intimidating body styles during the fox style/fast back days…….member the Lil window obstructed with tint and text? I do. Man those were so fast, the only directions you were seeing was in front or behind you.
Now all it needs is a Toyota engine 😀
Maybe they can use the GR Yaris/Corolla engine in the Supra, or perhaps a turbo-4 of some sort…
The Lotus Evora/Emira is the real GR Supra because it actually has a GR engine from Toyota 😛
That, or the Lexus RC F. Which I also like but wish had a manual!
Or any goddamn modern transmission at all. The Aisin 8 speeds that curse the Fs and the IS500 are unacceptable in this day and age. I won’t even demand a manual in a Lexus either…but at least give us a transmission that isn’t going to hold the car back.