Toyota has been investing significant effort into developing a groundbreaking automatic transmission tailored for sports cars. Referred to as the “Direct Automatic Transmission” (DAT), this innovation has been under intensive development for over a year. In early 2022, a GR Yaris model equipped with this automatic transmission made its debut at the Toyota Gazoo Rally Racing Challenge in Japan, marking a pivotal moment in the project’s timeline.
Since its initial unveiling, Toyota has been accelerating the development process, recognising the potential of this automatic transmission in transforming the driving experience for sports car enthusiasts. The most recent test of the DAT took place in September during an event associated with the Super Taikyu series, further showcasing its progress.
Although the DAT is not yet available for purchase, Toyota’s Chairman, Akio Toyoda, assures enthusiasts that the wait will be worthwhile. He praised the DAT as a “game-changer for automatics,” suggesting a significant leap in automatic transmission technology. However, he acknowledged that there are challenges and hurdles to overcome before the DAT can be made available to the public.
Toyoda expressed a keen desire to make this innovation accessible to a broader audience, including those who prefer automatic transmissions. He emphasised the potential for individuals to enjoy motorsports and experience the excitement of driving with different sounds, downshifting, and upshifting, even with an automatic transmission. Toyoda humourously noted that “DAT” could also stand for “Dat’s Akio Toyoda.”
One of the key advantages of the DAT, as highlighted by Toyoda, is the elimination of time lost during gear shifts. This enhancement allows drivers to concentrate more on accelerating, braking, and steering, significantly improving the overall driving experience.
While the specific release date of the DAT remains uncertain, its potential application across various GR-badged models is an intriguing possibility. Currently, the GR 86 offers an optional six-speed automatic, while the GR Corolla is available exclusively with a manual transmission. The GR Supra features an eight-speed automatic, co-engineered by ZF and adapted for the GR Supra, enhancing its performance and efficiency.