New Hints From BMW, Toyota Suggest the Supra Could Get a Manual
Enthusiasts are divided on whether the 2020 Toyota Supra’s BMW bones are a sacrilege or a nonissue. Regardless, the pairing means that what one brand says about their own car might expose interesting details about the future of the other.
A recent press release covering updates to BMW’s European models announced the entry-level Z4 sDrive 20i will come standard with a six-speed manual gearbox. Right now, the Euro-spec base Z4 is the only variant to offer a stick, but who knows? With enough demand a manual could make its way to inline-six equipped cars, too.
We won’t waste words further explaining the Supra’s similarities to the Z4. Earlier this year we learned the 2.0-liter turbo-four shared between the entry-level Supra and Z4 overseas earned emissions certification in the United States. At the time, Toyota told us that BMW sought certification to explore a “variety of uses” but the Japanese automaker wasn’t planning on offering a four-cylinder in the Supra here—at least not initially. Given the evidence we have for an I-4 Supra potentially coming to the U.S., and the fact that the four-cylinder Z4 is getting the aforementioned six-speed manual in Europe, we had to wonder if a row-your-own-option might be in the A90’s future.
We asked Toyota if BMW’s announcement meant anything for the Supra, and a spokesperson had this to say:
“We may have heard a time or two (or more) that there’s a desire for a manual transmission in the Supra. However, we’re confident in the performance of the current setup… We feel it’s the optimal combination for the U.S. market at this time and we’re anxious for customers to drive the new Supra and experience it for themselves. We’ll be sure to check back into the conversation at that time and see what people have to say.”
Seems like Toyota’s thinking about it at least as much as we are.
Toyota isn’t wrong about the Supra’s current engine-transmission combo. When we drove it we loved the lightning-quick shifts and faultless programming from its eight-speed automatic. Still, for a car so focused on driver involvement, it seems like a mistake not to offer it with a stick. We think the hint from BMW makes that possibility more likely than ever. Not to mention, we’d be happy to see a third pedal in the North American Z4’s footwell, too.
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