Toyota Supra VS Nissan 370Z
- Modest cabin storage
- Firm ride
- Dynamic balance
- Slick manual gearbox
- Classic exterior design
- Lacks latest safety tech
- No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
- Fake engine noise
It's been 26 years since the Toyota Supra was last (officially) on sale in Australia, and thanks to a joint venture with BMW, that's also produced a new Z4 Roadster, it's back in fifth generation (A90) form.
Produced at Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria, this car launches the GR brand in Australia. Its formal name is the Toyota GR Supra. GR stands for Gazoo Racing, an initiative of Toyota president Akio Toyoda, now representing Toyota motorsport here and overseas, from World Endurance sports car racing to the world rally championship, long-distance rally raids, and heaps more.
Toyota invited us to the mega Phillip Island race circuit and the twisting roads around Victoria's South Gippsland for a first local drive.
|Engine Type||3.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
Road testing the Nissan 370Z in 2011, I noted it was getting on. Yes, the rear-wheel drive two-seater had been given a design freshen up and a bigger engine a couple of years prior, but the 350Z it was based on had hit the local market way back in 2003. And it wasn't unreasonable to expect replacement or retirement in the not-too-distant future.
Okay, so that was seven years ago, which means if you (like many) consider the 370Z to be an update of the 350Z (the transition happening in 2009), this car has been on sale for 15 years straight. Can you imagine Apple trying to sell any one product without entirely reinventing it for that long?
You might say that makes it a modern classic; so good it's only required an occasional touch up to keep it on the Sports Car Most Wanted list. And in recent years, a consistent average of 30 Aussies a month have slotted a shiny new 370Z in their driveway.
Is it enough to keep Nissan's eternal Z-car flame burning?
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
A price close to a hundred kay is not to be sneezed at, but the A90 Supra delivers performance and dynamics to challenge sports cars costing twice as much. And if it was our money, we'd live without the extras and opt for the GT.
This fifth-gen car is an uncomplicated drive, and I mean that in the best possible way. Forgiving, fast, and huge fun. Toyota's push to build more excitement into its global product range is really building momentum now.
Is this new Supra on your sports car radar? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
It's hard not to be ageist when it comes to the current Nissan Zed, because 15 years in market (nine if we're generous) is a lengthy stretch in anyone's book. But somehow the 370Z is more than the sum of its parts. It has fantastic front-engine/rear-drive balance, an increasingly rare atmo engine, and a beautiful manual 'box. The value equation is decent, and it's nicely put together. Just don't expect to be dazzled with the latest safety, driver-assist and multimedia technology.
Does the Nissan 370Z have what it takes to elevate your heart rate? Tell us in the comments below.
With bulges and curves everywhere, the new Supra's distinctive exterior tips its hat to the iconic Toyota 2000GT of the late 1960s with its 'double bubble' roof, long bonnet and short cabin, as well as the previous A80 Supra that's been such a hit in the grey market here, but was never officially imported by Toyota Australia.
The design has so far polarised opinion, but in the metal, it definitely has presence, and believe it or not the wheelbase is 100mm shorter than the 2+2 86's, and with a wider track it's muscular stance is no surprise.
In every other key measure the 86's more powerful stablemate is larger, at 4240mm long (+139mm), 1775mm wide (+79mm), and 1292mm tall (+7mm). Toyota says it normally sets a minimum ground clearance guideline of 130mm, but to get the Supra's centre-of-gravity as low as possible sat the Supra at 119mm.
Stand-out elements are the evil LED headlights, rising and rounded front guards, that double bubble roof, curvaceous hind quarters and pronounced rear spoiler (with echoes of a Porsche 911 'ducktail').
Kind of disappointing to see what appear to be inlet and exhaust vents on top of the front guards and in front of the rear wheelarches are filled with black plastic blanks, but trust me, you're never going to miss an A90 Supra.
Seven standard colours are available, named after iconic racetracks (if you don't like them blame the Toyota Australia employees who came up with them) – 'Fuji White', 'Suzuka Silver', 'Goodwood Grey', 'Monza Red', 'Silverstone Yellow', 'Le Mans Blue', 'Bathurst Black' and the optional 'Nurburg Matte Grey' (available on GTS only).
Inside, an asymmetric centre console sets up a classic cockpit style interior, and the digital instrument layout is exactly what you want in a performance-focused coupe – digital speedo on the left and vibrant rev counter at the straight ahead. An 8.8-inch multimedia touchscreen sits proud of the dash above the ventilation stack.
The grippy sports seats look and feel great, and the leather sports steering wheel sits on the slightly slimmer side of chunky.
Liberal use of glossy 'carbon fibre-look' trim on the console actually looks good, and the instantly recognisable gearshift is one of several pieces of BMW hardware on the inside. A clear as crystal BMW build sticker inside the driver's door aperture is another giveaway.
If you want to go all the way back, the 370Z clearly takes its design direction from Datsun's star of the '70s, the original 240Z.
Inspired by Ferrari, and (along with the Toyota 2000GT) a sports-car breakthrough for the Japanese industry, the first Zed's front-engine, long-nose proportions have remained largely intact in successive iterations over the decades.
With a broad, flat nose, distinctively jagged headlights, and steeply raked rear profile, there's no mistaking the 370's signature stance, with pumped-up guards sitting over fat, 19-inch alloy rims.
Sharp-eyed car-spotters will notice the update's new design RAYS forged wheels, smoked front and rear lights, and a similar smoked finish on the exterior door handles.
A new colour, 'Cherry Red' also replaces 'Bordeaux Black' in an eight-shade colour palette. Our test example was finished in 'Gun Metallic'.
Inside, echoes of Zeds past abound, with a trio of hooded gauges (clock, voltmeter, oil temp) sitting in the centre of the dash top, and the tachometer in the middle of a cowled, three-instrument main cluster shaded by an exaggerated tube.
And aside from consciously retro design touches, some elements have been present inside the car for so long they're just... ancient.
For example, old-school orange graphics for the odometer, gear position and trip computer are dated, and the small (7.0-inch touchscreen) multimedia display has the feel of an early noughties edition of Tekken 6.
Forget a digital speedo or head-up display. A CD slot still sits proudly in the centre stack, and matt silver highlights scattered around the cabin are as on-trend as double denim.
And the steering wheel (joined with the instrument binnacle) adjusts for height, but annoyingly, not reach.
That said, friends and family who rode in the car during the week I had the keys all commented on the swoopy exterior and cozy cockpit feel of the interior. So, what do I know?
Strictly a two-seater, the Supra offers plenty of space for its occupants, but storage space is modest.
There's a small oddments tray in from of the gearshift which incorporates a wireless phone charging pad, as well as a USB port and 12-volt outlet. There are pockets in the doors, but they're small (forget bottles), a slim glove box is better than none and there are two decent size cupholders between the seats. The cupholders sit in what looks like it should be a lidded storage box, but it doesn't budge one millimetre.
The boot space looks bigger than Toyota's stated 290-litre (VDA) volume and includes a netted storage space behind the passenger side wheel tub, four tie-down anchors, plus a 12-volt socket and an elasticised retainer strap on the driver's side. There's no cargo separator between the boot area and the cabin, so you can squeeze a bit more stuff in behind the seats.
Don't bother looking for a spare of any description, a repair/inflator kit is your only option in the event of a flat.
Two seats means practicality is a relative term when applied to the 370Z. For example, getting in and out is an athletic exercise requiring gymnastic levels of flexibility and poise. As with most low-lying coupes, I found the outer hand on the A-pillar technique helps with swinging down into the car, or lurching up out of it.
Once ensconced behind the wheel, you're confronted with a relatively modest amount of storage space, running to a medium-size glove box, a lidded bin at the rear of the dividing console, a single cupholder, and door pockets incorporating recesses for small bottles only.
There are two lined recesses for soft bags or coats behind each seat, including a fold-out map pocket, but they're not exactly convenient for retrieving things when you're on the move. What's missing is a tray where you can easily stow things likes keys, coins or a phone.
There are also two 12-volt power outlets, a USB port and an aux-in audio connection.
Rear load space is limited to 195 litres, mainly due to the boot's shallow floor (an alloy space-saver spare sits underneath). It does incorporate a cargo blind and four tie-down hooks, but we only managed to squeeze in the largest (105-litre) suitcase from our three-piece hard set, or a combination of the two smaller ones (35 and 68 litres).
We also had a crack at stuffing in the CarsGuide pram (there is a top-tether hook provided for child seat fitment) and managed it with only a couple of beads of perspiration expended.
Forget the nappy-bag paraphernalia, though. The soft bags with all the baby stuff would have to go in the storage bays in the cabin behind the seats.
Price and features
In Australia, the Supra's offered in entry-level GT trim, priced at $84,900 plus on-road costs, and the GTS is a $10K step up at $94,900.
That puts you in the same band as cars like the Audi S5 Coupe ($104,400), Audi TT 2.0 TFSI quattro ($88,055) and S version ($101,855), as well as the ferocious BMW M2 Competition Pure ($99,900). But tellingly, even the top-spec GTS significantly undercuts the BMW Z4 M40i ($124,900), which some will read as a blue and white propeller badge with a $30K price tag.
Of course, the Supra's key focus is dynamic performance, but both grades are comprehensively equipped, the GT's standard features list including: 'leather-accented', heated and eight-way power-adjustable sports seats, a leather-accented sports steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, an 8.8-inch multimedia touchscreen (managing the 10-speaker audio system - including digital radio - sat nav, ventilation, and more), keyless entry and start, auto LED headlights, LED tail-lights and DRLs, rear LED fog lights, rain-sensing wipers, 18-inch machined alloy wheels, an 8.8-inch 'Multi Information' digital instrument display, plus heated and folding electric exterior mirrors.
The GTS adds bigger brakes (with racy red calipers), plus one inch on the rims up to 19-inch forged alloys, a head-up display, premium JBL 'Surround Sound' 12-speaker audio, and brushed metal 'sports' covers on the pedals.
The arrival of the tricked-up 370Z NISMO in August last year, offered Nissan Australia an opportunity to reposition the regular model, dropping the MSRP for the manual version from $56,930 to $49,990.
Aside from adjusting the car's value-for-money proposition (and pissing off those who'd bought one in July), that close to seven grand haircut delivered more pricing headroom up to the Roadster (starting at $60,990), and NISMO (from $61,490) versions.
For that money the standard equipment list includes, keyless entry and start, cruise control, climate control air, go-fast alloy finish pedals, 'HDD' (Hard Disc Drive) sat nav with 3D mapping, a 7.0-inch colour multimedia touchscreen, and Bose eight-speaker audio with 9.3GB 'Music Box' hard drive.
You'll also pick up sports seats with lots of features. First, they're 'leather accented', which is code for genuine hide in all the places you regularly contact, and a faux equivalent everywhere else. Not uncommon, and not necessarily unpleasant. Then they're heated and four-way power-adjustable, (with manual lumbar and height adjustment for the driver).
The steering wheel and gear knob also cop the 'leather accented' treatment, plus you can expect LED DRLs and tail-lights as well as auto headlights. It's worth noting that the headlights are garden-variety xenons, and things you might expect in a $50k coupe, like, rain-sensing wipers, dual zone climate, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity or tyre-pressure monitoring are 100 per cent absent.
Lining up direct competitors for the 370Z isn't easy, because there aren't any. But the closest is arguably a 2.3-litre EcoBoost version of Ford's Mustang at $45,990 for the manual. A further stretch of the imagination could haul in the Mazda MX-5 RF ($43,890) or the 86 GTS+ ($39,440) and Subaru BRZ tS ($39,894).
Engine & trans
The all-alloy (B58C30O1) unit is a closed deck design featuring a single twin-scroll turbo, water-to-air intercooler, direct injection, plus variable valve timing and lift.
Maximum power is 250kW, available between 5000-6000rpm, and peak torque of 500Nm is delivered across a broad plateau from just 1600rpm all the way to 4500rpm.
Despite loud calls for a manual gearbox, Supra chief engineer Tetsuya Tada so far hasn't incorporated a three-pedal version. Although, Tada-san is determined to keep the updates and upgrades coming, so you never know what's possible down the track.
The eight-speed auto is a close-ratio unit, overdriven on the top two gears, sending drive to the rear wheels via an active diff able to adjust from zero to 100 per cent lock-up. Sequential manual changes are available through the central shifter or wheel-mounted paddles.
The 370Z is powered by an all-alloy, 3.7-litre (VQ37VHR), naturally aspirated, quad-cam V6, producing 245kW at 7000rpm and 363Nm at 5200rpm.
It features the 'Continuously Variable Valve Timing Control System' (CVTCS) with 'Variable Valve Event and Lift' (VVEL) on the intake side. And while all that may sound new and ultra-high tech, it was actually introduced in 2007.
Transmission choice is between a seven-speed auto (with manual mode and paddles) or six-speed manual gearbox, as tested here. And this 2018 upgrade brings a high-performance clutch from Japanese specialist Exedy.
Drive goes to the rear wheels via a carbon-fibre composite drive shaft, connecting with a viscous limited slip differential (LSD).
Additional features that won't necessarily be music to purists' ears include 'Active Noise Cancellation', and 'Active Sound Enhancement'.
The former monitors and measures engine sounds, using the audio speakers to produce "acoustically opposing signals to cancel undesirable sounds". So, okay, maybe filtering out the messy noise is a good thing.
But at the same time Active Sound Enhancement employs "digital signal processing to enhance the engine note, using the vehicle's sound system to augment or modify the spectrum of select powertrain sounds in the cabin". Yuck.
I can cop a tube that channels a bit of genuine engine noise into the interior, but in this context, the phrase 'digital signal processing' is a turn-off.
Claimed fuel economy for the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle is 7.7L/100km, the Supra emitting 177g/km of CO2 in the process.
Hardly fair to note consumption from the circuit launch drive (we were focused on looking where we were going, anyway), but over a roughly 160km rural B-road loop the on-board read-out saw us averaging 9.4L/100km, which included some fairly 'enthusiastic' sections.
A stop/start system is standard, at the time of writing Toyota Australia listed the minimum fuel requirement as 91 RON standard unleaded (to be confirmed), and you'll need 52 litres of it to fill the tank.
Claimed fuel economy for the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle is 10.6L/100km, the 370Z emitting 249g/km of CO2 in the process.
Over roughly 250km of city, suburban and freeway running, we averaged 15.6L/100km, at the bowser. Far from miserly.
Minimum fuel requirement is 95 RON premium unleaded, although Nissan says "for optimum performance" you should stump up for 98 RON. And just to rub it in, you'll need 72 litres of it to fill the tank.
The launch drive program combined a roughly 160km loop through Victoria's South Gippsland region and a lengthy Phillip Island circuit session. So, we were able to get a pretty solid picture of how the new Supra shapes up in local conditions.
First up, speed. Launch control is standard on both Supra grades and Toyota claims 0-100km/h in 4.3sec, although we've seen the car dip into the threes in independent testing overseas, and it feels quick.
Maximum torque is a meaty 500Nm, available from just 1600rpm all the way to 4500rpm, and extending your right ankle anywhere in that band delivers a serious shove in the back.
The eight-speed auto's rapid fire shifts make it feel more like a dual-clutch than a conventional torque-convertor auto, especially in manual mode using the wheel-mounted paddles.
The car is claimed to be torsionally stiffer than the 86, and even the carbon-rich Lexus LFA, so the strut front, five-link rear suspension set-up is hung from a stable platform. It keeps the car superbly well planted. Yet aluminium front suspension hardware lowers unsprung weight and keeps the Supra light on its feet.
It boasts a 50/50 front to rear weight distribution, achieved by moving the engine as far back as possible, and has a lower centre of gravity than the 86, which has a horizontally-opposed engine. At just under 1.5 tonnes it's also relatively light.
The electrically-assisted steering is accurate and progressive with good road feel, and 'Sport' mode fine-tunes engine sound and response, shift pattern, (active) damping, steering and the active diff. All elements are also adjustable individually. Plus the tricky diff adjusts from zero to 100 per cent lock-up.
In Sport the ride sharpens appreciably, and even in Comfort it's firm but definitely daily-drive acceptable, and after all, that's what you sign on for with a car like this.
And it all came together around the epic 5.3km Phillip Island GP circuit, which is kind of appropriate given this car knows its way around the Nurburgring.
Balanced, stable and seriously rapid the Supra ate up the flowing layout. Howling up to its 6500rpm rev ceiling it turns forward thrust into prodigious lateral grip, the fat Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber (255 front/275 rear) gripping hard, the chassis telegraphing every move, and the steering remaining super accurate and predictable.
The car was neutral in the long high-speed sweepers and, thanks to the tricky diff, put its power down with absolute authority out of both hairpins.
The brakes (ventilated discs all around with four-piston calipers up front) held up to lap after hot lap delivering good feel and washing off big speed without fuss. The GTS boasts larger rear rotors (354mm v 330mm) but you'd have to set-up a 24-hour endurance event to pick the difference.
Entertaining growls, pops and bangs from the exhaust were icing on the track-attack cake. It's brilliant.
The Nissan 370Z is actually the car many want the Toyobaru 86/BRZ to be. I can sense some of you spluttering out a sweary response to that notion. But hear me out.
If you, like many others, think the 86/BRZ would be perfect with an extra 50kW/80Nm, just bolt on a turbo or supercharger, and voila. You'll get that extra grunt, but remember, the 86/BRZ was conceived to be light, tactile, and, not least of all, affordable.
Up the outputs and you light the wick on an engineering arms race that should also lead to bigger brakes, an engine with more exotic pistons and a tougher bottom end, a stronger gearbox and clutch, a beefier diff, sturdier chassis, fatter rims and rubber... the list goes on, and on. Until you end up with something very much like the spec, weight, and price of the 370Z.
That's not to say this car isn't a fun drive. It is. Just don't expect the quick reflexes of an MX-5 or 86/BRZ.
Despite light-weighting tricks like an aluminium bonnet and all-alloy suspension, the 370Z weighs in at a not inconsiderable 1467kg. And although its 3.7-litre V6 develops a solid 245kW/363Nm, first impressions are dominated by its hollow mid-range.
Much as I love the free-revving nature of a naturally aspirated engine, there's no denying a modern turbo typically delivers lots of torque low down, with peak power also available within a useful rev range.
All the action here is at the top end, with maximum torque arriving way up at 5200rpm, and peak power taking over at a nose-bleed 7000rpm (the rev ceiling is 7500rpm). Not exactly an easily accessible sweet spot.
But there's still so much to like about this evergreen Zed. Its classic front engine/rear-drive layout results in a 53/47 front to rear weight distribution and the car feels balanced and beautifully predictable.
Suspension is double wishbone front, multi-link rear, and ride comfort, even over choppy bitumen surfaces is surprisingly good. On the flip-side, rumble coming up from the Bridgestone Potenza RE050A rubber (245/40 f / 275/35 r) is always noticeable, and often intrusive.
The steering is supported by old-school hydraulic power assist and while connection with the front wheels is impressive, overall feel is light. Hello 'Merica.
The gearbox is a sweet reminder of what a pleasure it is swap ratios in a top-notch close-ratio manual, and hats off to Exedy for producing a wonderfully progressive clutch. Personal preference was to turn off the standard 'SynchroRev Match' function, because I like having a go at the ol' heel 'n' toe tap dance myself.
Brakes are ventilated front and rear with almost equal size rotors (355mm f / 350mm r) clamped by four-piston calipers up front and two piston units at the rear. They are reassuringly powerful and consistent.
Age has not wearied the 370Z's ergonomics. Although the lack of a digital speedo and no reach adjustment for the steering column is annoying, the sports seats are snug and comfortable, the moderately chunky wheel feels great, and all the major controls are simple to use. Who needs slick screens and 'piano black' finishes?
With the need for speed comes the need for top-shelf safety, and the new Supra features an impressive array of standard active and passive safety tech.
The must-do boxes are ticked with ABS (with brake assist), vehicle stability control, and traction control on board, as well as 'Front Collision Warning' (Toyota-speak for AEB) with daytime pedestrian and cyclist detection.
In fact, a full suite of 'Toyota Safety Sense' assistance features also includes active cruise control, a pre-collision system with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane departure alert (with multiple alerts and steering assist), adaptive high beam and traffic sign recognition.
There's also blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors (with rear-end collision warning), active cornering assist, brake drying, and tyre pressure monitoring.
If all that fails to side-step an impact passive safety includes seven airbags (driver and front passenger, front side, side curtain, and driver's knee), as well as a 'pop-up bonnet system' to minimise pedestrian injuries.
The A90 Supra is yet top be assessed by ANCAP or Euro NCAP, but a maximum five star score is a pretty safe bet.
The 370Z must feel like a wall flower at the crash-test disco because it currently isn't rated for safety performance by ANCAP, its Euro NCAP affiliate, JNCAP in Japan, or the USA's NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) or IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).
That said, in terms of active safety features you'll find ABS, BA, EBD, traction control, 'Vehicle Dynamic Control' (stability control), and a rear-view camera with 'Predictive Path' guidance lines.
But if you're looking for more current active tech, look elsewhere, because things like AEB, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, active cruise, lane-keep assist, auto high beam or any kind of pedestrian detection are missing-in-action. They're not even available on the options list.
If all else fails and a crash is unavoidable, primary passive safety runs to active head restraints and eight airbags (driver and passenger front and side airbags, plus roof- and door-mounted curtain airbags).
Toyota Australia has confirmed it's supporting Supra with the brand's standard five year/unlimited kilometre warranty, extending to seven years with the 'Service Advantage' program (that requires owners to carry out full log-book servicing for the first five years of ownership).
Also sitting underneath the Service Advantage umbrella is capped price servicing, locking in an annual service cost of $385 per service for the first five years of ownership. Service interval is 12 months/15,000km.
And just as Supra will be available for sale at all Toyota dealerships, Toyota Australia has confirmed servicing will be available throughout its national network of (300+) authorised service centres, with special tooling supplied as required to smaller rural locations.
But it does include 24-hour roadside assistance for three years, and Nissan's 'myNissan Service Certainty' capped-price servicing program applies for up to six years/120,000km.
The scheduled maintenance interval is six months/10,000km, with charges ranging from a low of $283, to a high of $831 (100,000km), averaging out to roughly $428 per service.