The new Toyota Supra I’ve driven is the best version – because the global BOSS of Toyota added a personal touch


ASK a child to draw a fast car and they’d probably come up with something like a Supra.

Long bonnet. Big wheels. Spoiler on the back.

The Toyota GR Supra Manual is huge fun on the track but it’s also a comfy and convenient road car. The Supra now has the option of a manual gearbox – and manual gearboxes, like sports cars themselves, are increasingly a rarity.

No one really thinks a sports car is an SUV with a massive loud engine.

But those SUVs are what manufacturers build – because it’s easy money.

Just take existing workaday models, soup them up, and supercharge the prices.

It takes real commitment and effort to make a specialist sports car.

Let alone two, as Toyota now does.

One of them began life as the divine GT86.

It has just had a thorough makeover to become the even more divine GR86.

It’s small, intimate, cheap and huge fun.

But it’s sold out in Britain for the next two years, when imports have to cease.

Blame upcoming laws on driver-assistance features.

Fortunately Toyota also makes this bigger, more serious GR Supra.

Which we’ve loved ever since it was introduced three years ago.

Now it’s even better, because it’s got the option of a manual gearbox – and manual gearboxes, like sports cars themselves, are increasingly a rarity.

It’s easier for manufacturers just to bung in what they use for their SUVs: An automatic.

That’s what the Supra began with. It uses quite a few BMW parts, including the engine and transmission.

And BMW has all but given up making cars with manuals.

But someone in Toyota wanted a manual, so a group of engineers made one.

Because that someone just happens to be the boss of the whole Toyota corporation, Akio Toyoda.

He loves sports cars. It wasn’t a simple job, because no existing gearbox was suitable.

They had to design a lot of new interior trim too, and more besides.

Meanwhile, they made some small changes to the steering and suspension to ease away the slight nerviness the Supra had before.

Those changes will now go into the automatic version too, by the way.

Settling down into the Supra’s snug cabin, it feels like it was always ready for a manual box.

The lever sits on top of the high centre tunnel, an easy elbow-flick from the steering wheel. The footwell isn’t too crowded for the clutch.

Once under way, the lever’s notches are exact and easy to find. It slips between them snappily. The clutch is smooth too.

You’re soon revving up and down through the box. Then you can really get the best from the smooth, urgent, 3-litre straight-six engine.

Sure, if you want to put in hot laps of a track, F1-style paddles are faster and they let you keep both hands on the steering wheel.

But the Supra is a road car. It’s huge fun.

But it can also act comfy and relaxed – convenient for daily drives, and great for long trips too.

The manual is for people who love the physical skill of driving.

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