Toyota’s Supra flagship now makes 285kW from its 3.0-litre turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine.
When Toyota teamed with BMW to build its new 2019 Supra, everyone was delighted to see a turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine under the bonnet, albeit with only 250kW. Toyota has upped the ante to 285kW for the Supra’s 2021 model year update, though. So, is more actually better?
The question, though, is if the extra grunt has upset the fine-handling and fun-to-drive characteristics of the reborn Supra, or should Toyota have left it to the aftermarket tuners to bump up power from the engine?
In the world of pricey sports coupes, bigger is always better.
Only the Ford Mustang GT can best the Toyota Supra in both engine outputs and price, but the former is more of a comfortable and fast cruiser than a sharp and scintillating sports car.
The headline feature for the 2021 Toyota Supra is undoubtedly its 3.0-litre turbo-petrol engine, which now produces 285kW (up from 250kW), but we’ll examine the engine further below.
Other changes for the 2021 model year include new engine bracing to keep the front end stiffer in the bends, but again, we’ll get into the nuts and bolts of how the new Supra handles a bit later.
Featuring an 8.8-inch driver’s display.
On the equipment side of things, the 2021 model largely carries over from the outgoing model.
That means an 8.8-inch driver’s display, keyless entry, push-button start, dual-zone climate control, power-adjustable front sports seats, leather-accented interior, automatic headlights and wipers, heated side mirrors and 18-inch wheels are standard on the base GT grade.
Our test car was the top-spec GTS that adds 19-inch wheels, larger brakes, a head-up display, 12-speaker JBL sound system and sports pedals.
The sound system lacks the punchiness and clarity of set-ups in much cheaper cars.
We’ve got to call out this JBL sound system, though. Toyota says it is a 425-watt sound system, but it lacks the punchiness and clarity-at-higher-volumes of set-ups found in much cheaper cars, despite the two massive speakers positioned behind the front seats.
Is there anything interesting about its design? 9/10
You can say what you want about how the Toyota Supra borrows its engine and platform from a BMW, but the sheet metal draped over the top absolutely oozes style and road presence.
The classic sports car proportions are here, with a long (and we mean longggg) bonnet, steeply-raked windscreen, slender glasshouse and short overhangs, making the Supra look fast even when stationary.
We especially like the aggressive front end that features a sharp nose flanked by sleek headlights and the gaping air intakes that allude to the Supra’s sporting nature.
The bonnet and sides also feature some vents, but they serve an aesthetic purpose rather than a mechanical one, unfortunately.
Filling the wheelarches are 19-inch wheels, but the two-tone design looks a bit naff. Nothing a set of aftermarket wheels won’t fix!
The Supra looks fast even when stationary.
The rear of the Supra is also something of a looker, with broad rear hips that allude to its rear-drive nature, a massive diffuser with side fins for better airflow, F1-style lower centre brake light and dual exhaust tips.
The liftback tailgate is also finished with a subtle boot lip spoiler, though we’d have much preferred a full-on wing as seen in the fourth-generation car to really sell the boy-racer vibe.
Inside, the Supra will be familiar to anyone who has sat in a recent BMW, with much of the switchgear and layout carrying over from its donor car.
The centre stack is characterised by the large 8.8-inch multimedia system, while the climate controls are laid out in an intuitive fashion with physical buttons to make it a little easier to operate while driving.
Probably the biggest letdown with the interior, though, is the instrumentation, which is displayed on an 8.8-inch screen.
Sure, the C-shaped rev counter looks cool enough, and the speedo is clear and easy to read, but when compared with the customisable digital screens seen on some of its rivals, the Supra’s instrument cluster looks a little simple.
The interior then, is much more functional than aesthetically pleasing, and certainly doesn’t feature the character and charm of the older Supra with its angled, driver-centric layout.
How practical is the space inside? 6/10
Measuring 4379mm long, 1854mm wide, and 1292mm tall, with a 2470mm wheelbase, the current Toyota Supra is actually shorter and taller than the preceding (A80) model.
As such, the Supra is now a strict two-seater rather than the 2+2 arrangement it was before, but this also means occupants have a little more room to get comfortable.
This is most prevalent in the headroom, as the 'double-bubble' roof affords passengers just that little bit of extra room that is much appreciated for six-foot-tall drivers like myself.
Without rear seats though, you also won’t have to worry about the legroom of the rear occupants so you can get into the perfect driving position in the low-slung sports car.
We will say though, that the combination of well-bolstered seats and large, heavy doors can make getting in and out gracefully a tad tricky, especially in tighter parking spaces.
The Supra is now a strict two-seater.
Occupants have access to thin and shallow door pockets, only capable of accommodating small wallets, but the centre armrest also houses two cupholders and a small storage cubby, perfect for keys.
It’s a bit annoying that the armrest features cupholders, though. If you like to carry a water bottle around, or grab a coffee on the go, you’ll have to keep your arm away.
Your phone has a unique position in the wireless charging cradle found ahead of the shifter, but the design is infuriating to say the least.
The system features a plastic cowl, designed to keep the phone in place while driving, and in theory, it’s a sound idea. However, in practice, the shifter obscures the cradle so much, it makes placing and retrieving the phone very tricky.
After a week with the car, I never got used to it and the phone ended up on the floor of the car on more than a few occasions as I gripped the phone in a fingertip pincer hold to try and pull out the device.
Rear seats? There aren’t any.
This is because the Supra is based on the Z4convertible. Older generation Supras had rear seats that were impractical, sure, but could be used occasionally and even offered more storage of longer items when folded flat.
Our week with the car yielded an 11.3L/100km figure.
Our time with the car was primarily spent in Melbourne’s inner city, with two jaunts down the freeway for some country backroad driving, that no doubt helped push fuel use higher than official figures.
Overall, even at 11.3L/100km, fuel use isn’t too hard for a high-performance sports car, especially considering the Supra doesn't need premium unleaded in the 52-litre tank.
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating? 7/10
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered? 8/10
Like all new Toyotas, the Supra comes with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.
The Supra’s warranty is actually more comprehensive than the BMW Z4’s three-year/unlimited kilometre offering, despite sharing the same mechanical underpinnings.
The Supra comes with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.
Service intervals for the Supra are every 12 months/15,000km, whichever comes first.
The first five services for the Supra are capped at $385 each, meaning a total cost of just $1925 after five years/75,000km.
What's it like to drive? 10/10
The big question is, can you actually feel the extra 35kW from the driver’s seat of a 2021 Toyota Supra?
The short answer is no, you’d need to drive the 2020 and 2021 Supra back-to-back to really notice a difference in engine outputs, as the car was already quick enough before.
Seriously, the change saving of 0.2 seconds in the sprint to 100km/h is basically imperceptible from the driver and passenger’s point-of-view, so don’t feel like you are somehow short-changed if you bought the 2020 model.
What is noticeable, though, is how eager and willing the new car is to rev, and how fun it is to push the tacho needle.
Sure, many will bemoan the lack of manual transmission (for now), but there's no denying the 3.0-litre six and eight-speed torque converter auto are a solid pairing.
The transmission is quick shifting, if a little hesitant to upshift at slower speeds (even when in manual mode), but the ‘Sport’ drive mode does quicken things up.
The saving of 0.2 seconds in the sprint to 100km/h is basically imperceptible.
Switching to Sport also firms up the suspension, tightens the steering and beefs up the exhaust if drivers are feeling a little adventurous behind the wheel, which just serves to amplify the Supra’s already fun characteristics.
It all starts with an excellent driving position, the car feeling like its wrapped around the driver.
Turn the wheel through a corner and its much more of a graceful pivot than a sharp dart.
It feels natural, communicative and effortless. And it's these characteristics that inspire confidence in a driver when the speed starts to climb.
The standard limited-slip differential also helps get the power down in the corners, as do the meaty Michelin tyres (255 fr / 275 rr) that offer plenty of grip when being diligent with throttle inputs.
Of course, with 285kW/500Nm sent exclusively to the rear wheels, you can overwhelm them with a liberal application of the right-hand pedal, but again the steering and chassis are so sublime you can feel when it starts to let go.
And if it all gets a little too much, the four-piston front brakes that clamp on to 348mm rotors do an admirable job at scrubbing speed. The GTS also scores larger 345mm brake rotors in the rear compared to the GT’s 330mm size, with both clamped by a single-pot floating caliper.
With such a hallowed nameplate, the pressure was on to get the dynamics of the new Supra right, and with help from that classic front-engine, rear-drive set-up, we’re happy to report this is one area where Toyota’s flagship sports car does not disappoint.
Driving is one area where Toyota’s flagship sports car does not disappoint.
The much-loved fourth-generation Supra is famed for being a Fast and Furious fans dream. After all, with a decent amount of tuning and the right driver behind the wheel, it can be a genuine supercar slayer.
The new-generation Supra might have BMW bones, but it retains the old car’s giant-killing ability thanks to a prodigious engine and superb driving dynamics. And this time it doesn’t need help from the aftermarket to do it.
This new Supra definitely earns its place on the bedroom wall of teenagers around the world, and should be pretty high on your consideration list if you are after a fun-to-drive, premium sports coupe.