The Supra rumors just get stranger. Japanese outlet Mag X reports (translated), via CarBuzz, that Toyota is developing a manual transmission for the automaker's newest sports car. We know Toyota has tested row-your-own versions of the Supra, but a definitive declaration of a stick shift is new. If we play along and assume there's merit to this, the question of where a manual would fit into the Supra range leaves us with a bunch more questions.
We'll start with the last rumor out of Japan, a few weeks ago. Best Car magazine claimed Supra chief engineer Tetsuya Tada spoke of a limited-edition model in a few years that would be powered by BMW's S58 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six. That BMW engine is now proliferating throughout the BMW M lineup. Instead of the current Supra's 382 horsepower and 368 pound-feet of torque from BMW's B58 inline-six, the motor headed for the imminent M3 and M4 could bring 473 hp and 442 lb-ft in standard tune, or 503 hp and 442 lb-ft if given to Toyota in Competition spec. The Best Car info was also odd in that it claimed the special edition car would pair M division's hot new engine with an older transmission; the hi-po Supra, instead of using the new eight-speed M Sport Steptronic torque-converter automatic, would use the the seven-speed M-DCT transmission put to use by the present M2 Competition — that M2 still powered by the S55 inline-six that preceded the S58.
The coming BMW M3 and M4 will offer a manual transmission with lower-powered trims of the S58 engine, so it's possible the unicorn limited-edition Supra does the same. On the other hand, last May BMW announced a manual transmission for the new Z4 in Europe, that roadster powered by the low-output version of the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder sold in the Z4 and the Supra here. Hence the Supra could get a stick shift, but one mated to a four-cylinder and not the six. A left-field option mentioned elsewhere has Toyota securing the 405-hp S55 inline-six from the current M2 Competition, along with that car's six-speed manual, considering the BMW coupe is due for replacement shortly.
And remember, according to Best Car, all of this hubbub is for a model that only has five more years to live.
Tada has said his team is paying attention to the demands for a manual transmission in the Supra, while giving various explanations about the difficulty of getting it done. He's mentioned packaging issues as the challenge to a transmission swap. He's said he had to consider the Toyota 86 — which does offer a manual — because he needed to clearly distinguish the 86 and Supra, one way of doing that being an automatic-only Supra. He's mentioned concern about tuners boosting power beyond the limits of a manual transmission. And he's mentioned a lack of time — that his engineers could add more power or do a manual, but not both simultaneously.
All we know is that Toyota has many plans for the Supra. We don't know which plans will materialize, but all of them — from more power to less weight to a manual gearbox — look good.