Amidst the release of the manual version of the GR Supra, Toyota was parading around a ‘savethemanuals’ hashtag. But it seems this was about much more than just flogging a few sports cars - the Japanese car giant really wants manuals to be a thing not just in combustion’s twilight years, but beyond.
Earlier this year Toyota filed a patent detailing a simulated manual gearchange for electric vehicles, and now, there’s a video showing what appears to be a working version of that system in action. And you know what, as much as we’d like to be cynical about the whole thing, the tech seems to work spookily well in this prototype UX 300e SUV.
There’s a gear lever and a virtual clutch pedal, although neither is attached to anything mechanical. Instead, the driver can interact with them to make the process of piloting an EV a little more involving, with some fake engine noise helping ‘sell’ the experience.
Lexus’s Electrified Chief Engineer Takashi Watanabe has this to say about the setup:
“From the outside, this vehicle is as quiet as any other BEV. But the driver is able to experience all the sensations of a manual transmission vehicle. It is a software-based system, so it can be programmed to reproduce the driving experience of different vehicle types, letting the driver choose their preferred mapping.”
It seems likely the arrangement will make it into Lexus’s future halo car, a machine previously described as “reviving the spirit of the iconic Lexus LFA”. So who knows - perhaps the new car will include a simulated version of the LFA’s legendary Yamaha-built V10. Inspired, or sacrilege? We’ll leave that up to you to decide.
Previewed by the Electrified Sport concept (pictured), the production version of this kinda/sorta LFA successor is expected to arrive in 2030. Being so far off, we know very little about it, although it is namechecked in the same press release that details the ‘fake manual’. “Its sweeping lines – establishing a new Lexus BEV identity, inspired by the speed and smoothness of aerobatics – are matched by its power,” we’re told, before that circa two-second 0-62mph time touted previously is brought up once again.
Watch this space.