2023 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 MT

It’s not a stretch to say the GR Supra is the most affordable BMW “M” car.
It’s not a stretch to say the GR Supra is the most affordable BMW “M” car.

by Arthur Chiang | May 16, 2023

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By now, everyone knows the story behind the rebirth of the legendary Toyota Supra. Partnering with BMW for better or worse, the Supra made its comeback in 2019 and the automotive world is that much better for it. While the debates about fake vents and German engineering may rage on, the 2023 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 MT puts at least one hot topic to rest by giving the people what they want – a manual transmission.

Toyota engineers made it known from the beginning that they were benchmarking the Porsche Cayman S as the performance target for their new sports coupe. Porsche acknowledges the PDK-equipped Cayman as the quicker option, but continues to offer a manual transmission recognizing that for some the purity of shifting your own gears trumps those tenths lost between shifts at the race track. Toyota has heard the cries and are here to help.

The internet may make it sound easy to simply drop a manual transmission into a car but in reality, things aren’t so simple. Toyota had to modify the center console to accommodate the new gear selector while still providing space for the rotary infotainment dial. The design steals some space from the passenger and the rotary dial is a bit difficult to see as the shifter obscures it from view. The pedal box fits like a glove allowing for a natural driving position. Mechanically Toyota has adjusted gear ratios and final drive to optimize the manual experience.

Shift throws aren’t too long and there is very little play in the mechanism itself resulting in satisfying mechanical clunks as we grab each gear, a welcome departure from the rubbery shift feel from other European manuals. The clutch has quite a bit of travel but the grab point is quite high making the GR Supra MT easy to drive. The pedals are placed close together making heel and toe shifting a breeze.

The GR Supra is also equipped with a “Gear Shift Assistant” which will automatically rev match when the shifter begins to enter a gate. The system works flawlessly though we do wish there was a physical button to deactivate it like in its other GR siblings, rather than having to dig through the infotainment menus or set up a driver profile. The selected gear and suggested optimum gear indicator still appears front and center in the tachometer just as it does in the automatic version.

The 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder twin scroll turbo B58 engine puts out 382 horsepower and a stout 369 lb-ft. of torque, from as low as 1,800RPM. The engine always feels like it’s in the powerband, no matter which gear you happen to be in. The 0 to 100km/h time loses a few tenths with the manual, completing the sprint in 4.4 seconds, up from 4.1. The iconic sound of turbo inline-six hallmark to the Supra experience is enhanced by active sound control and an active exhaust valve.

The chassis is up to the task of harnessing those ponies with a double-joint-type MacPherson strut front suspension, multi-link rear suspension and freshly re-tuned adaptive variable dampers. The rear end feels more planted and settled over bumps than before, while still offering herculean levels of grip when thrown around a corner. Just barely soft enough for daily driving, we wish there was slightly more range to the dampers as we didn’t notice much of a difference when changing to Sport mode. What is noticeable in Sport mode is a louder exhaust note, though much of the burble tune from the 2020 model has been removed. The trick electronic rear differential has also received an update with what Toyota calls “Hairpin +” mode allowing for more difference in wheel spin between left and right tires when powering out of a tight corner.

The Supra is still a head turner, one of the most exciting designs gracing the roads today. Most new cars are embracing a boxy angular design language, while the GR Supra defies convention and is as curvaceous as they come. For 2023 there are new colors added to the mix, including Stratosphere Blue and the A91 edition exclusive “CU LATER” which thankfully looks a lot better than it sounds. We thought it would be another boring matte grey but were pleasantly surprised to see the color shift to gold as it danced in the sunlight. Also new for 2023 are wheels with a design more in line with the rest of the GR lineup; we think the forged monochromatic A91 edition wheels look absolutely killer.

While the exterior is still evocative as ever, the interior is beginning to show its age. It’s like Toyota raided BMW’s parts bin from 2018 and threw together an interior. Climate vents, the 8.8-inch touchscreen, rotary dial and gear selector are instantly recognizable as BMW parts, though the Alcantara GR logo shift knob in the manual has helped. The infotainment system was already a step behind BMW’s latest when the Supra launched and while totally functional is really starting to look and feel dated. The A91 edition has a “Cognac” color scheme which does add some much-needed flash of character to the otherwise all business interior and also adds a 12-speaker JBL audio system.

Sadly, Toyota has still not addressed the horrendous wind buffeting when cruising with the windows down. If you haven’t experienced it, imagine the audio feedback loop you get by putting two phones together rising to a crescendo where you think your head just might explode if you don’t immediately close the windows. The aftermarket has addressed the issue with some modified door mirrors so hopefully Toyota can implement a fix of their own.

It’s not a stretch to say the GR Supra is the most affordable BMW “M” car but there are some areas where it seems the budget had run out while Toyota was spec’ing the car. The single piston rear calipers look out of place on such a high performer. The steering wheel design is uninspired, easily the worst of the GR lineup which simply should not be the case in the most expensive model of the three. There are some hard, easily scratched plastics found throughout the interior, and though we hope it was only an issue with our test vehicle, we must report the number of rattles and squeaks heard whenever traversing imperfect pavement was unacceptable.

The GR Supra was already an incredible sports car and the ZF automatic transmission didn’t really put a damper on the festivities. As such it’s hard to say definitively that the new manual makes the Supra experience any better, but we’re glad the no cost option is here for drivers seeking more engagement. We have to hand it to Toyota for giving us the only way to drive BMW’s sublime B58 inline six-cylinder with a manual gearbox. If we had to nitpick, we do wish for the addition of a good old fashioned manual handbrake to go along with the manual transmission.

Starting at $68,995 the 2023 GR Supra 3.0 is both a bargain alternative to the Porsche Cayman S as well as a good $10-15,000 more than the new Nissan Z. Out of the box the GR Supra is more well equipped to turn out fast lap times. If you are looking for the sharper more focused driving experience, we’d take the Supra over the Z, though it would be interesting to see what modifications could do to bridge the gap between the two. An additional $1,630 for the A91 package is more than reasonable for the Cognac interior, special GR-branded tower brace, and forged aluminum wheels if you can get your hands on one of the 50 slated for the Canadian market.

The Japanese have a concept of “Kaizen” – continuous gradual improvement and the 2023 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 MT has done just that. Over a short period of time, it received an updated B58 with more horsepower and torque, revised suspension and differential tuning, tower bars and even a manual transmission. Hopefully the trend continues and Toyota delivers a GRMN version with some carbon backed Recaros and the GR steering wheel this car absolutely deserves. Oh, and a fix for that wind buffeting please!

See Also:

2023 Toyota GR Corolla

2023 Nissan Z 6MT

2022 Subaru BRZ Sport-tech

Vehicle Specs
Segment
Performance Coupe
Engine Size
3.0L turbocharged inline-six
Horsepower (at RPM)
382 at 5,800
Torque (lb-ft.)
369 at 1,800
Fuel Efficiency (L/100km, City/Highway/Combined)
12.7/8.8/10.9
Observed Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)
10.6
Cargo Capacity (in L)
289
Base Price (CAD)
$68,995
As-Tested Price (CAD)
$70,625
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About Arthur Chiang

Staff Writer

Arthur is a walking encyclopedia of cars and is a known go-to source for obscure JDM parts in Ontario. He’s an avid track junkie and has amassed a collection of rare Subarus and Hondas.

Current Toys: ’00 WRX STI S201, '03 Impreza TS Wagon, ’98 WRX STI Type R, ’05 S2000, ’72 H2 750, ’08 Ruckus

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