You can only call yourself a real gearbox when you have mastered the manual gearbox. Driving stick is for those who really want to drive a car and have full control of the process. Therefore, mastering a manual transmission remains the key to driving pleasure, especially when some high-performance vehicles, such as the Audi S1, are only offered in that configuration.
Some cars are best experienced with a manual transmission. While fast BMWs like the M5 CS sedan now drive better with smart automatics, cars from some Japanese manufacturers like Toyota benefit from having their gears shifted manually.
Whether it’s a tough off-roader, a scorching hot hatch or an exhilarating performance coupe, Toyota has the answer. And when fitted with a manual gearbox, they make for a sublime encounter that leaves a hugely positive impression. So from a huge catalog of cars to choose from, these are the 10 best Toyotas ever sold with a manual transmission.
10 GR Yaris
The best hot hatch of the last decade. The GR Yaris is a fire-breathing mental suitcase that entertains day in, day out. The GR Yaris is lightning fast and uses a three-cylinder turbo engine connected to a four-wheel drive. It reaches 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds.
Fantastically balanced, the little Yaris has 268 horsepower on tap. The GR Yaris is a homologation special that stands way above its weight and is capable of obliterating and embarrassing much nicer machines. A real hot hatch bargain, it’s a car to buy, enjoy and keep forever.
9 Supra Turbo Mk4
Perhaps the most famous Toyota sports car in the world, the MK4 Supra Turbo delivered a supercar-shattering experience in an affordable package. It has captured the hearts of fans around the world and inspired generations of gearheads.
Under the sleek hood hides a 3.0-litre twin-turbo monster of an engine. Able to deliver a 326 horsepower knockout, the Supra could blast to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds. A stock model was fast enough for most, but modifiers took it to a whole new level.
8 land cruiser
As the old saying goes, “If you want to drive into the heart of the desert, take a Ranger Rover; but if you want to drive out again, take a Land Cruiser.” Built to survive in the harshest conditions on Earth, a Land Cruiser is nearly unbreakable and won’t let you down.
Whether equipped with the powerful petrol V8 or a torque diesel, the Land Cruiser has guts. Spacious, comfortable and with rock-solid build quality and high mileage, Land Cruiser can still venture out into the wilderness without fear of stranding. It’s a great device.
7 MR2 Supercharged
Toyota’s little MR2 delivered an economical sports car at an affordable price at the right time. The power was increased by installing a supercharger on its efficient 1.6-litre engine. In addition, acceleration times dropped drastically, making the MR2 Supercharged a real contender.
With a banshee whine and 130 horsepower, the MR2 Supercharger could scramble to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. Dynamically superb, the MR2 could carry its newfound speed through corners with ease. Still a great value choice, it was a huge hit and great fun to drive.
6 Hilux AT35
The ultimate workhorse, the Toyota Hilux is the tool of choice for farmers, builders, adventurers and freedom fighters around the world. It is a pickup hero who has proven himself almost indestructible. When specified in the AT45 specification, it is increased even further.
The specially ordered Arctic Trucks 45 edition Hilux makes a tough truck even tougher. Improved suspension, bodywork and protection allow this Hilux to wreck the arctic tundra. It’s the world’s best pickup, made even better. It just does everything and goes everywhere with you.
5 Glanza GT Turbo
As masters of making small city cars, it was no surprise when Toyota decided to pump the power into the Glanza. Known in some markets as the Starlet, the turbo-powered terror is an absolute blast to drive at full throttle.
Weighing less than 2000 lbs and rated at 132 horsepower, the tiny Glanza GT was a rocket ship. On boost, the 1.3-liter engine could launch the Glanza to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds. With some tuning goodies this little car could be made to destroy a much bigger prey.
4 Celica ST205 GT4
The awesome Celica ST205 GT4 was essentially a full-bore on-road rally car and a true backroad weapon. With a 2.0-litre 250 hp turbo engine connected to an advanced four-wheel drive, it was very fast in all weather conditions.
By burying the gas in the GT4, the Celica would howl to 60 mph in 6.0 seconds. The gears made it ballistically fast and would cover the ground at an alarming rate. Further tuning would unleash more power, making the GT4 fit for anything on the road.
Toyota has made so many beautiful performance cars and knows better than anyone that it’s not always about power. This point was hammered home after the release of the beautiful GT86 coupe, renamed the GR86 for the second generation. A throwback to Toyota’s iconic Corolla AE86 from the 1980s, it prioritizes balance, steering and handling over sheer power and acceleration.
Taking full advantage of its 2.4-litre 228hp engine, the GT86 is a refreshing return to naturally aspirated driving. Getting the most out of the chassis and engine takes effort, but it’s an enjoyable experience. The GR86 is hugely entertaining and rewards those who dig into its abilities.
2 2000 GT
Without a doubt the most beautiful car Toyota has ever made. The 2000GT is a sexy 60s superstar. Powered by a 2.0-litre six-cylinder engine with 148 horsepower, the 2000GT not only looked great, it sounded great. Only 337 models were made, making the 2000GT extremely rare and even more expensive.
Used units usually fetch over $1 million at auction, making it the most sought-after Toyota ever made. Beautifully finished inside and out, the 2000GT wasn’t about speed; it was about looking great and making the driver feel like he was making a million bucks.
1 Corolla GT AE86
The recipe is simple. Keep it small, keep it with the engine in the front and keep it rear-wheel drive. The Corolla GT AE86 took these ingredients and threw a high-revving twin-cam engine into the mix. A legendary car, the GT AE86 is almost a perfect vehicle in every way.
A sweet 130 hp engine, finely balanced chassis and incredible feedback elevate the AE86 to a superstar. Ventilated discs, an LSD and advanced suspension allowed it to float from corner to corner with so much control it was almost incredible to drive.