#SAVETHEMANUAL. That’s a hashtag we at PH can get behind, so get Tweeting Twitterati. Now. Because the manual is back in vogue it seems. We’ve only just been blessed with news that Porsche is making a 911 Sport Classic based on the 992 Turbo S, with rear-wheel drive and a self-shifter, and, if you haven’t got the big bucks to bag one of those, here’s something for us hoi polloi living nearer to the bread line. A Toyota GR Supra with an H-pattern gate. Is it Christmas already? Must be. It means Toyota is offering a triumvirate of manuals: this, the GR Yaris and the GR86.
And this isn’t any old manual. Oh no. Apparently, it’s intelligent, because Toyota brands it so: the Intelligent Manual Transmission or iMT for short. Now, having read the release, several times, I’m not exactly sure why it’s intelligent, but let me quote the passage concerned to see if you can fathom its meaning: ‘The iMT transmission uses an intelligent control system programmed with new software that prioritizes sporty performance. when upshifting, the parameters are tuned to optimize engine torque at the moment of clutch engagement and release; on downshifts, the software has been fine-tuned for consistent performance.’
Right, what I deduce from this is that the intelligent control system (which in a manual car is the driver, surely) is being programmed with new software. Blimey, this is BIG. The realizing of science fiction – the Borg in Star Trek – because owners will be plugged into the collective Toyota mainframe and updated. Pah! Beat that, Musk. This trumps Tesla’s over-the-air car updates.
Anyway, back to the sublime and some sense. To avoid a ‘sluggish take-off’ and provide a bit more in-gear pep, the final drive ratio has been shortened from the auto’s 3.15 to 3.46. There’s a large diameter clutch with a beefy diaphragm spring to cope with the 3.0-litre straight-six’s 340hp, and with the manual the Supra weighs less. The total saving, which includes less sound deadening and a new set of 19-inch wheels, is 21.8kg. Not content with that, Toyota is also introducing a new Lightweight version. This saves a total of 38.3kg over the standard auto with a simplified sound system and by ditching the heavy, leather-trimmed electric seats.
As for the gear lever, Toyota states ‘This was not simply a matter of changing one shift lever for another; consideration had to be given to ensuring the gear knob was optimally placed for precise, rapid and rewarding gear changes.’ Apparently, there wasn’t enough clearance between the gear lever and the dashboard, so some reengineering was required. And here’s attention to detail for you: the changes provide ‘a comfortable 42mm clearance between the shift knob and air conditioning panel.’ And the gear knob weight is a precise 200g, which provides a ‘pleasing inertia effect’ when used.
There are other changes, like reworked ESP and traction control software and the introduction of a new Hairpin+ function. This allows more wheel spin out of hairpins when the systems are on. Some of the changes have been applied to the auto versions as well. So all Supras come with a new anti-roll program (ARP), which is designed to prevent snap oversteer, and a revised Track mode that allows easier drifting. The EPAS has also been retuned along with the dampers – a welcome thing in my book, because the GR Supra’s steering wasn’t great and nor was its body control – and there’s more vulcanised rubber in the front and rear anti-roll bar bushes to stiffen those up.
What does the range look like now? Well, its starts with the 2.0-litre Live automatic that’s available with optional Premium, Connect and Sport packs. Then there’s the 3.0-litre Active automatic, with the option of a Premium pack. And the new models are the 3.0-litre Live Lightweight manual, which is expected to be the most popular GR Supra version, and the 3.0-litre Premium manual that now sits at the top of the tree. There are also some new colors – Moareki Grey, Dawn Blue and Matte Moonstone White – and an optional Alcantara Pack. There’s no prices for any of this lot just yet, but expect to read about them before the new lineup goes on sale later this year.