Toyota Gears Up for Change with Something Unexpectedly Opposite

The manual transmission for the Toyota Supra isn’t the only thing the brand is cooking up

After more than a year of rumors, Toyota finally confirmed that the Toyota Supra would be offered with a manual gearbox. It’s also said that a Supra GRMN with AWD is in the works, but all of this has been mostly overshadowed by the launch of the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla. With 300 horsepower, AWD, and a glorious six-speed manual transmission, it’s the ultimately little hot hatch. But, is it enough? Well, as it turns out, Toyota is cooking up something that might change the very nature of the GR Corolla, GR Supra, and even the GR Yaris.

A New High-Performance Transmission – Making the Third Pedal Obsolete

Toyota Gears Up for Change with Something Unexpectedly Opposite Exterior
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First and foremost, we’re working with some information from a translated Japanese car outlet, so the info is a bit dicey, but it’s something. Over in Japan, the base GR Yaris RS is actually powered by a 1.5-liter engine that’s mated to a CVT vs. the 1.6-liter engine that the rest of the world knows to be under the hood. In March, however, Japanese outlet Car Watch was at the first round of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Rally Challenge. At that event, journalists stumbled across a GR Yaris development car that features a traditional, lock-up automatic transmission, complete with planetary gearsets. In other words, it was a basic automatic and not of the dual-clutch variety that would, at a glance, make more sense.

Toyota Gears Up for Change with Something Unexpectedly Opposite Wallpaper quality Exterior
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The development car featured very few changes outside of the transmission, aside from a larger grille, which was required to help feed cool air to the transmission cool. Apparently, Toyota is pretty committed to making an automatic transmission worthy of the GR brand. Engineers were testing paddle shifters, though it has been said that the idea is for the transmission to offer the best possible performance when left in “Drive.” Toyota President, Akio Toyoda, is even suggesting changing the typical shift technique for those who want to do it on their own. Over there, people still push the lever forward to upshift while performance automatics in the rest of the world operate like sequential automatics in that you pull the shift lever to shift up.

Toyota Gears Up for Change with Something Unexpectedly Opposite Wallpaper quality Exterior
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According to the report, the rally was chosen because of its mix of environments for testing. Toyota Vice Chairman, Shigeru Hayakawa, was put in charge of driving because he’s more likely to interact with the transmission like your average everyday driver as opposed to one of the company’s professional drivers. Oddly enough, this performance transmission is still being programmed for smooth changes and fuel efficiency. How Toyota can manage the demands of a performance gearbox, while still offering smooth shifting and fuel efficiency is an interesting question that needs to be answered.

Toyota Gears Up for Change with Something Unexpectedly Opposite Wallpaper quality Interior
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The arrival of the new performance automatic isn’t going to happen anytime soon. When Car Watch went to round two, the engineers said the transmission they are working with at the moment is basically thrown together. It’s a bunch of new gears crammed into a parts bin casing that is cut to fit the Yaris’ three-cylinder engine. So far, one transmission has failed and Toyota had to reinforce the grille on the development car due to damage during the first round.

Toyota Gears Up for Change with Something Unexpectedly Opposite Wallpaper quality Drivetrain
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All of this said, once development is complete and the new automatic goes into production, it will definitely be offered on the Yaris and probably the GR Corolla since, you know, it’s powered by the same three-cylinder engine. As for the Supra, it would make no sense for Toyota not to offer the same transmission for it as it’s quite possible that people will actually want a proper high-performance automatic as opposed to what’s available now.

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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