Toyota GR Supra review - Japan's sports car hero driven on road and track
A fast and competent sports car, but short on that final element of engagement that defines a great driver’s car
Of the many Japanese cars to have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years, the Toyota Supra has been among the highest-profile. Riding the crest of a wave which has seen Nissan Skyline GT-Rs and Honda NSXs rocket in value – not to mention the floodgates opening as models pass the 25-year-old mark that makes them legal for importation to the enormous US market – the market for the 1990s A80-generation Supra in particular has never been stronger.
Seems like the perfect time then for Toyota to launch a new, A90-generation Supra. Introduced in 2019, the new model shares several cues with its immediate predecessor, from swooping styling to a turbocharged in-line six powering the rear wheels. But the difficulty and expense of bringing such a car to market in the 21st century means the car hides a badly kept secret: underneath, it’s a BMW.
The use of BMW Z4 underpinnings has caused consternation among enthusiasts, but there are solid reasons for doing so – not least BMW’s expertise with Toyota’s preferred rear-drive, straight-six configuration. At any rate, Toyota’s car is a coupe to the BMW’s roadster set-up, and the two cars feature different chassis settings to try to differentiate them further.
Whether it’s really a Supra or not matters less than how it drives, however, and on this point the car is a success – to a point. As our four-star rating indicates, the Supra is good, and can compete on even terms, where it matters, with other cars around its price point.
What it can’t do, that many rivals can, is offer any truly outstanding characteristics that elevate it beyond merely good and into the realms of the very best. Given ever-changing industry regulations are making cars such as the Supra ever less viable, we hope Toyota still has one or two things up its sleeve to extract the car’s full potential in the future.
Toyota GR Supra: in detail
- Engine, gearbox and technical specs – Just the one engine, and just the one gearbox – a combination of BMW-sourced straight-six and ZF eight-speed auto. Layout is fairly conventional.
- Performance and 0-60 time – Does strong work with its modest power figure, taking only 4.3sec to reach 62mph. Feels as quick as the figures suggest.
- Ride and handling – Responsive, well-balanced and grippy, with good traction in the dry and a decent ride. Short on driver interaction, though.
- MPG and running costs – Decent on-paper economy for its performance. Good warranty too.
- Interior and tech – A Toyota recipe with BMW ingredients. The outcome is a comfortable, well-judged environment, but small windows and dark trim leave it a bit gloomy.
- Design – Traditional sports car proportions paired with unique design elements.
Prices, specs and rivals
The Supra is available in two grades – the regular model at £52,695 and the Supra Pro at £54,000. Both use the same 3-litre straight-six powertrain (the 2-litre four-cylinder available elsewhere hasn’t yet been earmarked for the UK), and their mechanical and technical specification is also identical.
All Supras get LED headlights, a limited-slip differential, a suite of safety systems, adaptive cruise and an 8.8-inch media screen, but the Pro adds features such as a head-up display, a JBL Premium sound system with 12 speakers (to the normal car’s 10) and leather rather than Alcantara seats. Two solid colours are offered (yellow and red, so it’s nice to see a manufacturer offering bright shades), with the various metallic hues adding £710 to the price.
The circa-fifty grand price point puts the Supra among some tough competition though. Most obvious is a BMW, but not the Z4 you’d expect. Instead, £51,425 gets BMW’s best effort at a sports car in this sector, the M2 Competition. Not only does it have a sharper edge to its proper M engine and dynamics, but unlike the Supra, it offers a manual gearbox, and the practicality of rear seats. When we tested the pair in 2019, the BMW emerged the victor.
The BMW isn’t a true sports car shape though, so that might lead you down a different path, such as the £52,055 Porsche Cayman T, or the £46,905-and-up Alpine A110. Both use only four-cylinder engines, but both are also lighter than the Supra, with more engaging dynamics, arguably more attractive styling, and the Porsche once again can be specified with a manual gearbox. The Porsche’s flat-four does blot its copybook, but both it and the Alpine are fantastic driver’s cars and a joy to use every day.