The Supra’s Six-Speed Manual Is a Weird Mix of BMW, ZF, and Toyota - story fullscreen Fullscreen

The Supra’s Six-Speed Manual Is a Weird Mix of BMW, ZF, and Toyota

A few companies had their hands in the Supra’s six-speed manual, but all were consensual – we promise

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Rumors of a manual transmission for the Toyota Supra have been floating around since the car was launched, but they really started to pick up steam in early 2022. We first learned that there might be a catch and/or limited availability, and then a leak exposed a little more information about it. By the time April 2022 came around, Toyota revealed that the manual transmission was coming, and by the end of the month, it revealed the new 2023 Toyota Supra with the availability of a manual transmission. Of course, with the Supra being so closely related to the BMW Z4, which is available with a manual transmission, it seems a little silly that Toyota would take so long to add it to the options menu. As it turns out, though, there was a damn good reason.

The Supra’s Manual Doesn’t Come Straight from BMW

The Supra's Six-Speed Manual Is a Weird Mix of BMW, ZF, and Toyota Exterior Drivetrain
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Toyota revealed the 2023 Supra with the availability of a manual transmission. The caveat was better than we expected as it won’t be a limited-run option, but it can only be had with a six-cylinder engine. That engine is, of course, borrowed from BMW, so this is just a BMW transmission, right? Well, actually it’s not. Toyota didn’t fill us in on the details, but now we’ve learned that some considerable effort went into making this gearbox suitable for the Supra.

A Toyota spokesperson told The Drive that the “parts used in the gearbox come from a combination of ZF-manufactured manual transmissions, but the parts combination is exclusive to the GR Supra.” The spokesperson explained that Toyota actually partnered with both BMW and ZF for a number of things that include the “design/layout of the shift lever and pedal, decisions of the final gear ratio, turning of the intelligent manual transmission function (iMT), and shift feel.”

The Supra's Six-Speed Manual Is a Weird Mix of BMW, ZF, and Toyota Exterior Drivetrain
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Either way, the parts combination inside the transmission are unique to Toyota, though the transmission is still manufactured by ZF.

What this actually means is that Toyota took the ZF six-speed manual from the BMW Z4 sDrive 20i and revised the guts a little to make it its own. The Toyota version of the transmission even has a similar part number to that of BMW’s six-speed manual. Toyota’s model wears the tag GS6L50TZ while BMW’s part number is GS6L40LZ. If you’re wondering GS6 means that it’s a six-speed manual, Z stands for ZF (the manufacturer), and the numbers in the middle (L40L and L50T) stand for the transmission type and the gearset inside the case.

The main thing that sets Toyota’s version of the six-speed manual apart is Toyota’s iMT system – a proprietary rev-matching system that offers consistent performance during downshifting. That’s basically automaker talk and a fancy way of saying that it double clutches for you to ensure the engine is at the perfect speed for your selected gear. Toyota’s version of the manual transmission also features a final drive ratio of 3.46, which is shorter than the final drive ratio of the automatic. This means more responsive acceleration from take-off and faster in-gear acceleration. The downside is that the shorter final drive will have a negative impact on top speed, so don’t expect the manual Supra to go as fast as the automatic.

The Supra's Six-Speed Manual Is a Weird Mix of BMW, ZF, and Toyota Exterior Drivetrain
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All of that said, don’t hold out hope for Toyota ever offering this transmission for the four-cylinder Supra. It was designed specifically to mate with the six-cylinder, and it’s a good marketing scheme to get you to buy higher up the range. Toyota is, however, working on a new high-performance automatic transmission that could eventually be offered in the four-cylinder Supra and would likely be better than the manual anyway. There is no pricing for the 2023 Supra quite yet so we can’t tell you how much extra the manual transmission will cost, but it should be arriving at dealers within the next few months, at which point we’ll learn full pricing details. If you’re willing to wait, there are still rumors that an M4-powered GRMN Supra with over 530 ponies is in the works, so that might be an even better option. That is, of course, assuming that BMW doesn’t kill off the Z4 too soon and inadvertently kill off the Supra at the same time.

Source: The Drive

Robert Moore
Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert - robert@topspeed.com
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read full bio
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