One small change has had a big impact.
Despite all the BMW jokes, the latest Toyota Supra is a wonderful sports car to drive. It handles beautifully and, when equipped with the straight-six, has plenty of gusto to get you going places quickly. The eight-speed auto is a treat but fans were disappointed when the Nissan Z rival was launched with no manual option.
Toyota has rectified that with a three-pedal performer, which boasts a manual gearbox loosely related to various BMW transmissions. The new transmission found in the Japanese two-door utilizes parts from the Z4, along with components that are exclusive to the Supra.
Not only does the option to row your own gears bring about more driver engagement, but it makes the Supra lighter, too. In total, the manual is around 84 pounds lighter than its automatic equivalent - there is one component that Toyota made purposefully heavier, though.
We've already reported that the Supra manual boasts a 200-gram shift knob, but according to Top Gear, Toyota initially experimented with as many as three different shifters for the new gearbox. At first, a lightweight 68-gram knob was used before being replaced with a meatier 137-gram item.
The decision to use a heavier 200-gram shifter came after engineers found the nicely weighted gear lever improved the overall driving experience, providing the right amount of heft without feeling unwieldy. Interestingly, this is the same approach Gordon Murray took with the awe-inspiring T.50 supercar.
Every inch of the lightweight supercar was designed to be light and efficient, save for the shifter. Hewn from a solid piece of metal, it was designed to improve the feel of the gearshift and nothing else.
The British publication notes the manual Supra is a delight to drive, describing the gear changes as "slick and weighted just-so." Of course, the three-pedal variant will be slower off the line and possibly less fuel-efficient than the automatic gearbox, but that's a small price to pay for enhanced joy behind the steering wheel.
Nissan has taken the same approach with the new Z, offering the retro-styled coupe with either a manual or automatic transmission. Interestingly, the quicker automatic makes a better noise and will certainly be faster, but we're guessing fans of the long-awaited sports car won't care. The manual is a dying breed and we applaud manufacturers for offering customers one last chance to revel in the pleasure afforded by changing your own gears.