Toyota recently made a splash when it announced that the six-cylinder Supra will be getting an optional manual transmission starting with the 2023 model year. As we all know, the J29 Toyota Supra was developed in collaboration with the BMW G29 Z4, and the two ride atop the same platform, use the same engines with varying output, and share the same technology and infotainment suite, but are still very different cars targeted at different drivers. With the commonality of modular platforms, engines, and parts in general these days though, the Z4 and Supra also have a lot in common with many other BMW models in the lineup, and last year, Jason Cammisa explained the difference between some of these cars in an excellent video for BMW CCA sponsor Hagerty.
But the latest news from Toyota has us wondering just one thing: Will any BMW models also get a manual transmission?
It wouldn’t be particularly hard, as the 2023 Toyota Supra GR is getting a version of the ZF GS6L40LZ six-speed manual transmission found in the four-cylinder Z4 sDrive20i that BMW doesn’t sell in North America. According to The Drive, the Supra will be receiving the ZF GS6L50TZ transmission. The “50” in the designation relates to the torque rating, which is increased to cope with the 369 pound-feet of the BMW B58B30O1 turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine.
The ZF GS6L40LZ and GS6L50TZ six-speed manual transmissions aren’t much different than the GS6-53BZ used in the rear-wheel-drive G80 M3 and G82 M4. The GS6-53BZ dates back to the era of the E90 M3 and even earlier in some other models, while the GS6-37BZ dates back even further. This means the manual transmission currently offered on the M3 and M4, and soon the Toyota Supra, is among the oldest components on the car in terms of its original design—but it doesn’t matter, because the Supra finally getting a manual transmission wouldn’t be noteworthy news if it wasn’t going to make the car significantly more attractive to the driving enthusiasts among us.
Admittedly, BMW is highly unlikely to adopt an optional manual transmission in established models to which it would be suited like the Z4 M40i, M240i, or M340i (all of which use the same 382-horsepower B58 as the Toyota Supra GR). These days, the transition to electrification is BMW’s top priority, and when the G20 3 Series gets refreshed soon, it’s likely to receive the same 48-volt mild-hybrid setup that’s standard on the G30 5 Series LCI, the entire second-generation 4 Series lineup, and the inline six and V8 models of the seventh-generation 7 Series. We can’t help but speculate and perhaps dream a little bit, even though it seems like BMW is now reserving the last of the manual transmissions for the M cars, at least here in the U.S.
Would you buy something like an M240i, Z4, or M340i, knowing you could get it with three pedals and the familiar feeling of the slick-shifting ZF six-speed found in BMWs from the last twenty years?—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.]