Back in November 2021, after spending a week driving a bright yellow Toyota Supra, I came away surprised at just how much I enjoyed driving it. But the whole time I had the car, I took the incredibly controversial position that it would be better with a third pedal. So I asked Toyota to give the Supra a manual. Clearly, Toyota was convinced by my superior logic (and mine alone) because less than six months later, Toyota announced that it would do exactly that. They say auto journalists make bad product planners, but who’s the bad product planner now, Person Who Decided It Should Be Auto Only?
Yes, as it turns out, the manual transmission option on the Toyota Supra has been a massive success. In a lot of cars, even performance cars, the take rate is embarrassingly low. Like so low that, as manual transmission enthusiasts, we should be ashamed of ourselves. When 95 percent of the units sold for a particular model are automatics, is it really any surprise that companies have a hard time convincing the bean counters to let them develop a new manual transmission that very few people will buy? Supra buyers, however, are just built different.
Road & Track reports that 47 percent of all Supras sold since Toyota began offering it as an option have been manuals. That’s nearly half! Granted, that only amounts to 1,216 cars, but still, that’s a huge win! And have we mentioned that the manual Supra is great? Clearly, the demand is there and likely always has been. How Toyota missed it in focus groups, we have no idea. Maybe Toyota didn’t do any focus groups on transmission preferences among likely Supra buyers. Maybe that’s not a common thing to do in the industry. I don’t know. I’m not a product planner. But I’m starting to think that maybe I should be.