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2019 Toyota Supra: manual gearbox, Aero Top and track versions all under study

By Ryan Lewis, 20 Sep 2018 News

2019 Toyota Supra: manual gearbox, Aero Top and track versions all under study

A Supra range expansion is in planning stages, potentially bringing lighter, faster, cheaper and more engaging variants

SUCH is the hype around the soon-to-be-resurrected Toyota Supra that its engineers are already looking at ways to expand the line-up and deliver more of what enthusiasts have been asking for.

At a Supra prototype drive in Spain, assistant chief engineer Masayuki Kai revealed some of the ideas on the table for even faster, lighter, cheaper and more engaging Supra variants.

“Everything is still open. For example, transmission; we are studying a manual transmission. A bigger engine, or a smaller engine, lighter version, track edition – this is all now ongoing,” Kai-san told Wheels.

“We are studying and we will get the first feedback from the market next year and depending on this feedback we will decide where we should put the [development] money.”

Read next: 2019 Toyota Supra preview

In hardware terms a manual transmission is relatively easy to do. A compatible gearbox already exists for the Supra’s engine, as used in the BMW M240i, and the development work has been done to integrate it within Supra’s modified platform, according to Kai-san, but a decision on its introduction is yet to be made.

Masayuki Kai Toyota Supra engineer

Kai-san said a three-pedal option could be added to the range as a limited production model at the very least, not unlike the Mark X GRMN that was built for the Japanese domestic market in 2015.

A manual Supra would definitely need to be manufactured in right-hand drive, he added, in order to be sold in Toyota’s home market of Japan. All Supras are built in Graz, Austria.

Supra chief engineer Tetsuya Tada told Top Gear earlier in the week that a stripped-out GRMN (short for Gazoo Racing Meister of Nurburgring) version of the Supra was on his priority list, potentially taking 100kg off the kerb weight of the regular model, which is expected to weigh 1500kg.

Read next: Toyota GR Supra confirmed for Australia

Only a single Supra variant has been discussed on record so far, with a 3.0-litre turbo six engine and eight-speed automatic, but digging a little deeper it’s clear Toyota has futureproofed its flagship sports car with a view to adding more. As an example, cooling vents placed all over the compact coupe’s bodywork are only for show at present, but Kai-san says it won’t stay this way.

“They are cosmetic. We intend to open all of them when we are making a race version [and] make them functional,” something that could also apply to a road-going track edition or GRMN model with a more aggressive braking package.

An Aero Top version following in the footsteps of third- and fourth-gen Supras with removable roof panels is also feasible and already under consideration.

“As an idea, we have, if customers really want to have it, technically it should be possible.”

Optional equipment finalised for the Supra includes a Gazoo Racing Drive Recorder, which can digitally log lap data at racetracks and upload it to Gran Turismo.

Read next: Tetsuya Tada: meet the hero behind the Toyota Supra

Toyota Australia could launch the Supra with a two-tier line-up, similar to the existing Toyota 86 GT and GTS, which share powertrains but have different equipment levels. Adaptive suspension and an active rear differential are locked in for Supra, but may only be offered in a premium variant or at additional cost in a base model.

2019 Toyota Supra

Kai-san confirmed there will be more wheel designs on offer, not just the 19-inch black and chrome rims seen on prototypes so far.

Eight different body colours are locked in, including red, yellow, orange, blue and a matte silver colour that Kai-san says will be offered for a limited time at the start of the Supra’s model cycle, possibly as part of a special Launch Edition.

Kai-san was born in Germany before moving to Japan with his family at 10 years old. He now works back in Munich as the European-based Supra engineer and project liaison officer between Toyota and BMW. His current post ends in July 2019, but he is looking to extend his stay and work on the next phase of the project beginning around that time, focused on future updates and an eventual Supra facelift.