2023 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 Premium (manual!)

Life is unpredictable, a wise man once said that it’s like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get, or when you’re going to get it. My last road-trip review of the 4Runner TRD Pro alluded to some significant life changes on the horizon for me. That trip was important for me to consider where I’m going in life, and after that trip, I began a separation period with my wife of ten years. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, for me or our son, and it hasn’t. However, literally the day I moved out Toyota sent me another car to review, a manual-equipped 2023 Toyota GR Supra. To say that I was excited was an understatement. So, how was my first week of single life driving this blue Supra? Let’s get into it and find out.

2023 GR Supra Overview

The Supra is technically designated as a J29 series, more in alignment to BMW’s naming convention (the Z4 is the G29) than Toyota’s (A40 – A80 Supra series). Even though the next gen car started with limited options with regarding to trim levels, the 2023 Supra comes in four different flavors. The 2.0 four-cylinder version, that my colleague Eric Trytko reviewed last August, starts at just over $43,500. I’ve driven it too, and it’s a lot of fun for just north of $40,000. Step up to the base 3.0 six-cylinder and you’re looking at a nearly $10,000 jump to $52,500. The Premium trim that I reviewed last year in automatic guise will tack on just over $3,000 more but adds some solid features inside and out.

Oh, and as you can see by the image below, they are still embracing the A90/A91 naming convention with the special edition A91. It’s mechanically similar to the 3.0 models, but has some special interior and exterior bits and rings it at $58,345.

Our tester was a 3.0 Premium with the manual transmission (squee!). The manual is technically not an upgrade, but sort of is, since you have to add the Driver Assist package (Cruise, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and parking sensors) for $1,195. Toss on some pretty blue paint dubbed “Stratosphere” for $425 (white, black, and red are free) and you’re at $58,365 out the door with delivery, processing, and handling. Let’s delve deeper into the driving experience and see if that’s worth the price of admission.

2023 GR Supra Inside & Out

Starting outside, I still absolutely love the GR Supra’s look. Yeah, yeah it’s not exactly the 2014 FT-1 concept, but it’s closer than most people give it credit for. Especially when you park it next to it’s sister BMW Z4, which I have when I compared them directly, it’s clear how dramatically different the Supra looks. And not just compared to the Z4, which is pretty but conservative, it looks different than almost anything on the road.

The large sweeping duct up the door feeds into an impressive rear haunch. You can almost rest a drink on the rear fenders and it creates a great profile. Honestly there aren’t a lot of bad angles on the GR Supra, perhaps the “snout” in the front at times. Still, every time I walked away from the Supra I looked over my shoulder. That’s always been my test of what a good car should be and the GR Supra passes with flying colors.

On the inside, it’s so simple. Compared to most new cars which have busy interior (ironic, as buttons are continuing to disappear) the Supra looks clean and (is) easy to use. The screen looks a little tacked on, but so does almost every screen these days. The rest of the dash consists of a thin strip of audio/media buttons and another strip that controls the HVAC system. That’s it aside from some air ducts. The Supra now has Apple CarPlay, but it’s only wireless. Which means that since I didn’t pair my phone, but just plugged it in, I never experienced it. I’m not sure I recall seeing a car that only has CarPlay wirelessly, but here we are. There are some rumors that the feature (only standard on the Premium and A91, optional on other Supra trims) will end up as part of the new add-on subscription program. If we could not do that, it would be great.

The seat boosters are crazy, and even though they are adjustable it was tight. Clearly as a newly single guy, I need to workout and lose some around the mid-section. I did eventually look to the left to check traffic on the first day and wonder why (at just 6-feet tall) I was looking at the headliner. Apparently someone had adjusted the seat all the way up, and dropping it changed the driving position dramatically. The bolsters were still tight, but not nearly as bad. On the first hour-plus drive with the seat up, my back started to hurt, that subsided once I got the seat where I wanted it. There is a little bit of limited visibility if you look over your shoulder, but it’s not bad for a two-door coupe.

The interior uses a BMW orange lighting that is a little difficult to see, even with the setting jacked all the way up. In particular the trunk button in the door is hard to see at night and impossible to see during the day if there are shadows. But these were all pretty minor gripes.

Storage in the Supra isn’t terrible, but the 10.2 cubic feet in the back is less than you’ll get in rivals like the Porsche Cayman and the BMW M2. However, if you are just hauling yourself and some stuff, it’s not bad. I had an impromptu apartment shopping trip to Home Goods and just stacked my home goods on the passenger seat.

2023 GR Supra On The Road

That’s all well and good, but the damn thing has a manual transmission now, so I’m sure that’s what you’re hear to read about. The ZF eight-speed automatic is very good, but this car comes alive with a manual transmission. Power is the same as the non-manual 3.0 models, with 382 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 368 lb.-ft. at 1800 rpm. And while it’s only about 40 pounds lighter than the auto-box equipped Supra, it’s more the way you can use the manual’s gear ratios to stay in the those power bands that will make you smile. The individual gear ratios in the manual box, as well as the overall gearing, are all considerably taller than those in the automatic. Sixty mph comes in just under four seconds with good shifting, which is technically slower than the quickest automatic, but is obviously a lot more fun.

The manual is quite good, it has a bit of a long travel clutch, but it doesn’t take a lot of effort to engage. The shift knob sits just in the right place and throws are short and precise. I’ve driven better manuals, but I’ve driven a lot worse, the manual really does improve the Supra experience.

The new manual version also comes with a retuned traction-control system meant to help keep things in line if you get saucy dancing around on the clutch and throttle. The system also relaxes the standard electronically controlled limited-slip differential a bit through the twisty bits. Even with the system on, the Supra will still step out a little if you goose the throttle with the wheel turned, but it was always controllable and never felt scary.

I still like the pops and bangs on the overrun, have to imagine this car would sing with a tuned exhaust. Oh and lastly you’ll get a bit less mpg (by five mpg or so) but who cares, people aren’t buying a Supra for fuel economy.

Summary

The Supra is a bit of a love-it-or-hate-it car, with people still throwing out the “nice BMW” comment out like it’s a jab. The design is still superior to the Z4, and Toyota was able to deliver a massively cool two-door sports car without having to fully engineer it themselves. With pricing generally staying under $60,000 with all the bells and whistles, it’s an attractive sports car option in the current SUV-laden market. Plus, now that it has a manual, if it removes all of the “oh I’d buy it, but no manual” excuses out there. The 2023 GR Supra Premium 3.0 manual helped me through a tough, and ongoing, transition to single life. I was sad to see it go (the car).

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6 responses to “2023 Toyota GR Supra 3.0 Premium (manual!)”

  1. Rubens Junior Avatar

    It does look like a lot of fun with the manual transmission. I wonder if the Supra is outselling the Z4…

    1. William Byrd Avatar
      William Byrd

      It does! Z4 has had a max of 2,941 per year in the U.S. since 2019 and the Supra has had a max of 6,830. And the Z4’s highest year was it’s debut year, whereas the Supra’s highest was last year.

  2. wunno sev Avatar
    wunno sev

    no comparison to the Z? seems like the main reason they gave it a third pedal

    1. William Byrd Avatar
      William Byrd

      I mentioned that above, there’s a whole article!

      2020 Toyota Supra vs. 2020 BMW Z4 M40i

      1. wunno sev Avatar
        wunno sev

        sorry – nissan Z

  3. Zentropy Avatar
    Zentropy

    I don’t mind the BMW association. Better a foreign inline six than a V6, which is undoubtedly what Toyota would have (independently) put in it. The price is a bit dear for my comfort level, but given what it is, it doesn’t seem out of reason.

    Given the manual transmission option, I’d say this is almost worth it… IF I didn’t have to look at it or be seen driving it. Such an ugly design with so many superfluous convolutions in the bodywork! I’d like to see this drivetrain dropped into a second-generation IS.

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