The Save The Manual campaign gets a shot in the arm this year with the release of a DIY-shifter option for the 2023 Toyota GR Supra.
A six-speed stick-shift transmission is now available as an alternative to the previously mandatory eight-speed ZF auto, though only on the 3.0-liter six-cylinder cars. Perversely, the entry-level four-cylinder car, the kind of machine that would have traditionally been more likely to come with a manual, remains auto-only. Equally perversely, the manual option on the 3.0 costs the same as the automatic, unlike 5, 10 or 20 years ago when you’d have paid handsomely for the privilege of junking the clutch pedal.
The stick-equipped GR Supra is one of fewer than 40 cars of any kind available to North American drivers with a manual transmission option. Narrow your focus to home in on big-hitting performance cars, say vehicles with at least 300 hp (304 PS), and the number drops to just 16.
BMW M2 – 444 hp (est) – $65,000 (est)
We still haven’t seen a confirmed price for the 2023 BMW M2 that arrives before the end of this year, or a full set of images of an undisguised car. But we do know it will be available with a single version of the M3’s S58 3.0-liter turbo six developing around 444 hp (450 PS) and hooked up to your choice of six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic driving the rear wheels only. We can also take an educated guess at the price, which is likely to come in at $65,000 based on pricing for the old car and the M3.
BMW M3 – 473 hp – $72,800
You can’t get a manual ‘box on the M240i or M340i, so until the M2 arrives, the M3 sedan is one of only two BMWs available with more than two pedals. And even then availability is restricted to the base 473 hp (480 PS) car. The 503 hp (510 PS) Competition sedan is auto, as is the new M3 Touring, which is only available in Competition guise with xDrive all-wheel drive (and not available in the U.S. anyway).
BMW M4 – 473 hp – $74,700
The M3’s manual availability is mirrored in its 4-Series coupe sister’s lineup. Nothing less than an M4 will do if you want to row your own gears, and that option disappears if you upgrade to the 503 hp Competition car, or the M4 Convertible, which, like the M3 Touring, is exclusively available in Competition trim with xDrive all-wheel drive and the eight-speed auto.
Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing – 472 hp – $60,390
Who’d have thought it? Cadillac, one of the brands that pioneered the use of automatic transmissions way back before WWII, is one of a handful of luxury OEMs keeping the manual flame alive. The plain V-Series’ 325 hp (330 PS) 2.7-liter four is only available with a 10-speed auto, but the hardcore CT4-V Blackwing version’s 472 hp (479 PS) 3.6-liter V6 can be paired with a six-speed manual, and saves you $3,175 compared with choosing the auto alternative.
Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing – 668 hp – $85,390
Although the base CT5-V is equipped with the same 472 hp (479 PS) 3.6-liter V6 as its CT4-V Blackwing little brother, the manual option sadly isn’t carried over. But step up to the 668 hp (677 PS) supercharged 6.2-liter V8 CT5-V Blackwing and both two and three-pedal transmissions are available. That’s something the Caddy’s Audi RS6, BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E63 rivals can’t offer.
Chevrolet Camaro – 335-650 hp – $34,440-64,395
The Corvette is supposed to be America’s favorite sports car, but it’s definitely not that for manual transmission fans. You can’t get a stick-shift C8 Vette, but you can get all flavors of Camaro with a manual transmission, from the base 275 hp (279 PS) turbo 2.0-liter four, to the 650 hp (659 PS) supercharged 6.2-liter ZL1, taking in the 335 hp (340 PS) V6 and 455 hp (461 hp) naturally aspirated 6.2 V8 along the way.
Dodge Challenger – 375-485 hp – $39,670-53,040
Dodge isn’t as generous as Chevy with its manual offerings in the Challenger lineup, but the mid-range R/T’s 375 hp (380 PS) 5.7-liter V8 can be matched to a six-speed manual instead of an eight-speed TorqueFlite auto, as can the 485 hp (492 PS) 6.4 V8 in the R/T Scat Pack. Sadly, Dodge was forced to drop the manual option on Hellcat models pending re-calibration. We’re hoping it will re-join the range during the 2023 model year, but no date has yet been given.
Ford Mustang – 310-480 hp – $27,470-58,365
We’re eagerly waiting for Ford to drop details of the all-new 2024 Mustang, but for the purposes of this list we’ll stick with what you can buy right now. And the good news is that even the base 2.3-liter Ecoboost pony car makes enough power (310 hp / 314 PS) to qualify for our 300 hp minimum, and does it while offering a choice of six-speed manual and 10-speed automatic transmissions.
The 450 hp (456 PS) V8 fitted to the GT and 470 hp (477 PS) version in the Mach 1 (which both lost 10 hp/10 PS for 2022 due to emissions regulations) also comes with a choice of transmissions, but the 760 hp (771 PS) GT 500 range-topper is restricted to seven-speed dual-clutch hardware.
Honda Civic Type R – 326 hp (est) – $40,000 (est)
Expected to hit dealerships before the end of 2022, the all-new Civic Type R looks more grown up, and something else that has grown is the output of its 2.0-liter turbo four. A leaked Japanese brochure says power of the JDM market cars climbs from 316 hp (320 PS) to 326 hp (330 PS), suggesting U.S. versions will make more than the 306 hp (310 PS) produced by the old car. One thing that hasn’t changed is the method of getting that power to the road; the 2023 CTR is another manual-only affair.
Nissan Z – 400 hp – $39,990-52,990
Here’s the car that’s causing Toyota dealers the biggest headache, or it will once Nissan has fixed the supply chain delays that are currently giving it a headache. The 2023 Z’s range starts at $3,550 less than the GR Supra’s, but instead of a 255 hp (259 PS) 2.0-liter turbo four, Nissan takes your $40k and gives you a 400 hp (406 PS) twin-turbo V6 that makes 18 hp (18 PS) more than the $52,500 3.0 Supra.
And while Toyota only lets you have a stick-shift if you’re buying that 3.0, Nissan lets you pick a manual whether you’re shopping at the $39,900 end of the Z lineup or shelling out $52,990 for the Proto-spec car at the other end of the scale.
Porsche 718 Boxster – 300-414 hp – $65,500-103,400
Like the Nissan Z, the Porsche Boxster offers the chance to stir your own ratios at every price point. The base 2.5 turbo four’s 300 hp (304 PS) just gets it a place on our list, but if you want six-cylinder sophistication you’ll need to find $92,400 for the GTS 4.0 or step up to the Cayman GT4’s al-fresco alter-ego, the $103,400 718 Spyder.
Porsche 718 Cayman – 300-414 hp – $63,400-106,500
Everything you just read about the Boxster applies to the Cayman, except that the tin-top car is cheaper these days. The coupe also offers something the roadster doesn’t, in the form of a genuine 911 GT3 engine in the 493 hp (500 PS) Cayman GT4 RS, but Porsche only supplies that with the seven-speed, twin-clutch PDK ’box.
Porsche 911 – 443-543 hp – $123,00-272,300
Here’s another example of the way the manual gearbox has become a luxury option: you can’t get a stick on the entry-level $106,000 Carrera, the option only opening up starting with the $123,000 Carrera S. You haven’t been able to buy a manual Turbo for years, but you can also get a three-pedal setup on the 473 hp (480 PS) GTS, 502 hp (510 PS) GT3 and GT3 Touring, and limited edition 543 hp (550 PS) Sport Classic.
Toyota GR Corolla – 300 hp – $34,000-40,000 (est)
You can also get a manual transmission in the GR86 coupe but the 86’s 228 hp (231 PS) boxer motor is too anemic to qualify for our 300-horse club. The 300 hp (304 PS) GR Corolla does, and with a rumored starting price as low as $34-35,000 in Core spec (more like $40k for the Circuit Edition), it’s shaping up to be a real bargain. We’ll know more when it arrives in showrooms later in 2022.
Toyota GR Supra – 382 hp – $52,500-58,345
We kicked this story off with the 2023 GR Supra and have referenced it throughout, but to recap, you can’t get a manual transmission on the 255 (259 PS) 2.0-liter I4 cars, meaning you have to find $52,500 and buy an entry-level 3.0 to give your left leg something to do. But at least its 382 hp (387 PS) means your right leg will have fun too.
VW Golf R – 315 hp – $44,090
Props to Volkswagen for giving buyers of both the 241 hp (245 PS) GTI and the flashier, 315 hp (320 PS) Golf R access to a manual transmission option. Available in one single trim and with four doors, the R come with all-wheel drive and rear-axle torque vectoring, and going for the manual over the DSG alternative will save you around $800.
That’s your list of 16 cars available in North America with more than 300 hp and a manual transmission option, only six of which, you might have noticed, cost less than $60,000. Did we miss one? And which of these cars, if any, would you actually prefer with an automatic or dual-clutch transmission? Leave a comment and let us know.