It's a question worth asking because Japan could be on the cusp of getting a three-pedal Supra.
And just in case there hasn’t been enough Supra news lately, here’s another helping. It comes courtesy of Automobile’s latest exchange with a Toyota representative about the chances of a manual Supra coming to market. The round of questioning was spurred when BMW announced a widespread revamp of 11 models, which included a horsepower upgrade for the M550i xDrive, new tech for the X2, and the inclusion of a manual transmission for the Z4 sDrive20i.
Our interest, as well as Automobile’s, was piqued by that last piece of news because the Toyota Supra is essentially a cheaper and slightly modified version of the Z4. That means any upgrades it receives, including a manual transmission, could presumably be added to the Supra with ease.
So when Automobile heard that the BMW Z4 was getting a manual, it reached out to Toyota to see if the gearbox would eventually trickle down to the Supra. Toyota replied, saying, "We may have heard a time or two (or more) that there’s a desire for a manual transmission in the Supra. However, we’re confident in the performance of the current setup . . . We feel it’s the optimal combination for the U.S. market at this time and we’re anxious for customers to drive the new Supra and experience it for themselves. We’ll be sure to check back into the conversation at that time and see what people have to say.”
To be fair, Toyota has a point. With the manual take rate of an enthusiast’s car like the 86 so low, it’s reasonable to expect a manual Supra to sell poorly enough that it makes the venture unworthy of Toyota’s investment dollars. And then there’s the biggest hurdle: the engine that comes under the hood of US-market Supras.
Unlike the American Supra, the BMW Z4 comes with a variety of engines including a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that’s packed into the sDrive30i (which has a similar engine to the sDrive20i with the new manual option), and the 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six mill that the sDrive M40i shares with the Toyota Supra. Given that the manual is only slated for (and presumably only designed for) the four-cylinder Z4, and because that engine isn’t available in the US market Toyota Supra, it’s unlikely that gearbox makes it to Supras stationed stateside.
Of course, Toyota could just go ahead and give the US-market Supra the Z4’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, since it already offers the motor to Japanese Supra buyers and because the engine is already certified to sell in the US. Parsing the word choice in Toyota’s statement leaves open the possibility that Supras in markets offering the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine could get the Z4’s new manual. And the Toyota spokesperson encouraging US buyers to try out the current Supra could indicate that the Japanese automaker does have plans for a manual to make it to US Supras but doesn’t want buyers to hold off from buying the current Supra because of it. As always, we’ll have to wait and see what happens.