One of the continuing controversies about the revived Toyota Supra takes aim at its lack of a manual transmission. In early 2020, not long after the coupe hit the market, chief engineer Tetsuya Tada repeatedly explained that although his team had tested a manual Supra, there were three main reasons it wouldn’t be offered: The eight-speed automatic was faster and better; the automatic could handle more torque, which would reduce gearbox explosions on beastly tunes as happened on previous, tuned Supras; and the Supra needed tech spec daylight between it and the manual-equipped GR86. Manual-loving enthusiasts barely listened. The Tada line they did pay attention to was, “We are open to talking to the sales and marketing teams after everyone experiences [the automatic]. [A manual] is not totally out of the question.” So those enthusiasts kept griping about the manual omission. And Tada, being a man of his word, has potentially delivered. According to The Drive, a six-speed manual Supra is on the way, perhaps as soon as this year.
By August of last year there were rumors in Japan that Toyota was preparing a six-speed manual for the Supra. It wasn’t clear if the stick would be served up on the base 2.0-liter four-cylinder model or the inline-six cylinder; BMW offers a manual with the Supra’s Z4 roadster sibling only on the 2.0-liter-powered sDrive20i. Yet the gearbox rumor came with another rumor that there’d be a special GRMN Supra using the BMW S58 engine in the M3 and M4, a 3.0-liter six-cylinder mated to a six-speed transmission at a reduced tune of 437 hp and 442 pound-feet of torque.
The finer details still live in the dark, but “a source from inside Toyota’s dealer network” is said to have told The Drive that Toyota showed a prototype manual transmission Supra at the same Las Vegas dealer event last year where the automaker showed the coming GR Corolla. That source says the row-your-own Supra is confirmed, its arrival date expected to be this year, but uncertain exactly when. And no matter what happens with the 2.0-liter, the gearbox will be available with the inline-six.
If anyone would know what’s coming, it would be a dealer. On the other hand, the Toyota Supra is one of those anomalies in that the car only just turned three years old, but the older it gets, the harder it is to figure out what’s going on with it. So don’t be surprised if it springs a six-speed manual soon. And don’t be surprised if it doesn’t.