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The fourth-generation Toyota Supra of the early 90s developed a bit of a cult following thanks to its attention-grabbing looks and performance. This was a car that, with a little bit of a tweak and modification to the engine, could out-perform some of the best sports cars from Europe, all while costing a fraction of the price. That’s not forgetting its starring roles in blockbuster film franchises like Fast & Furious.
The automotive landscape has dramatically changed since then, and Toyota has been busy developing a range of more sedate hybrid cars. This transition has meant that Toyota no longer builds its own petrol-thirsty performance straight-six engines - engines that have always been at the heart of a Supra. This posed a problem when Toyota wanted to build a new Supra: it was no longer economically viable to develop its own new powerplant and a hybrid unit just wouldn’t cut it.
That’s why Toyota turned to BMW. Already working closely with the German marque on other technologies, it was the perfect partner to develop the new Supra thanks to BMW’s rich heritage in making straight-six engines. It also meant BMW could reduce costs in developing its own two-seater sports car, the Z4. To differentiate the two cars and so they don’t compete directly with each other, the Z4 is a cabriolet, while the Supra is a hardtop. Both are pure two-seaters.
Toyota Supra: Design
- Inspired by previous models
- Well proportioned
- Better looking than the Z4
Engine: 3.0-liter 6-cylinder petrol
Power output: 335bhp
Max speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 4.3 seconds
Fuel economy: 34.4mpg
While the Supra’s platform, running gear, engine, gearbox and large parts of the interior are shared with the latest BMW Z4, the bodywork is totally unique.
The striking design of the iconic fourth-generation model was a tough act to follow, but Toyota has certainly given it a very good shot.
The new car takes inspiration from not only the model it replaces, but also the original Toyota 2000GT from the late 60s and is certainly well proportioned. There are some lovely voluptuous curves and while the trunk lip spoiler might be more understated than spoilers found on Supras of old, it’s a nice touch. Toyota’s designers have also worked some neat vents into the design of the Supra, but perhaps a little disappointingly these are just for show and don’t offer any performance benefit. That little grumble aside, to our eye at least, the Supra looks miles better than BMW Z4.
Toyota Supra: Interior
- Many parts borrowed from BMW
- Quality materials
- Excellent driving position
While Toyota might have needed BMW for the engine, it has also relied heavily on it in a number of other areas as well. This is perhaps most notable when it comes to the interior. Step inside the cabin of the Supra and if it wasn’t for the badge on the steering wheel, you’d think you were in a BMW.
While the Supra has its own infotainment graphics, driver assistance controls, digital instruments, everything else is pure BMW. That means the Supra’s climate controls, column stalks, iDrive infotainment suite and gear selector are all taken from BMW’s parts inventory.
This approach will divide opinion. A BMW interior is a good thing, with quality materials and precise switchgear, and if you’re not familiar with BMW interiors, you probably won’t care. However, on the other side of the coin, if you’re buying a Japanese sports car, you might want something a little more individual.
At the end of the day, it’s a well-made interior that sees controls logically laid out and within easy reach. The driving position is also very good - you sit nice and low, with the seats providing excellent support, while the trunk is a pretty practical 10 cubic feet.
Toyota Supra: On the road
- Straight-six engine sounds awesome
- Sports mode delivers great handling
- Easy to live with day to day
Prices start at $49,990 / £52,695 for the standard 2020 GR Supra, or $53,990 / £54,000 for the Premium version (known as the Pro outside the US) that benefits from a number of extras including heated black leather-trimmed sports seats and a 12-speaker stereo.
With the straight-six engine dominating so much of the Supra’s development, has its inclusion been justified? Producing 335bhp and propelling the Supra to 62mph in just over 4 seconds, it’s a glorious piece of engineering.
Find the perfect windy road and the Supra will certainly put a big smile on your face. Select the Sport driving mode and you’ll find that more weight is added to the steering, the response of the accelerator and gearbox is that bit sharper, while exhaust delivers a more audible burble as you plant your right foot. There might be a little bit of electronic blackmagic at play to enhance the soundtrack here, but when it sounds as good as this though, who cares?
The steering is really good - nicely weighted and responsive, helped no doubt by the short 8ft wheelbase, while there’s plenty of grip when you turn in and body roll is well controlled. The 8-speed automatic gearbox is supersmooth as it progresses through the gears, while you’ve got the paddle shifts on the steering wheel for those times when you want to hit the upper limits of the rev range.
In normal mode, the Supra is very compliant and easy to live with. Visibility is a little restricted over your shoulder, but otherwise it’s pretty easy to live with day to day. The suspension is surprisingly supple for a sports car, happily riding over lumps and bumps in the road, while the steering is pretty light. That’s not forgetting a decent turning circle when you need it.
Toyota Supra: Verdict
While it might lack the charisma of previous Supras, this latest-generation model is an incredibly capable car. It looks fantastic for starters, drives well and sounds great. The influence of BMW might be a bit too much for some, but if you can get past that or it doesn’t bother you, then the Toyota Supra is one of the best options in its class.
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