Unlike Australia, the Toyota A80 Supra was sold officially in the UK where I grew up. And in the 1990s, I recall lusting after this curvy coupe the first time I saw it on the road.
By now, you don’t need to be told that the Supra is back. Or that its return was possible only through a collaboration with BMW (which in turn has created a new-generation Z4 roadster from the joint venture).
What is fresher news is that there’s now improved availability of A90 Supras through Toyota dealers in Australia, after limited initial supply meant the first hopeful buyers had to go through an online ballot system.
An update is also coming “towards the end of 2020”, which includes a bump in engine power and chassis tweaks.
If you can’t wait for about half a year (or possibly a bit longer), want to avoid the expected price hikes, or are hopeful of negotiating a nice deal bearing in mind that upcoming update, then this is the review for you.
The 2020 Toyota GR Supra (with the GR standing for Gazoo Racing, Toyota’s sports division) currently starts at $84,900 for the GT model we’re reviewing here.
It’s quite the jump from the Big T’s other sports car, the 86, which is priced from $31,440, though the Supra is very much the bigger brother, bigger-engined coupe.
There’s a stack of equipment, too. Convenience/comfort items include LED exterior lighting all round, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry/start, leather-accented electric sports seats, 8.8-inch infotainment touchscreen, integrated navigation, digital radio, and wireless smartphone charging.
Mechanical highlights comprise adaptive suspension, active limited-slip differential… And, of course, that purist-baiting BMW 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine.
Driver-assistance technology includes adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, anti-dazzle auto high-beams, speed-limit notification, low tyre pressure warning, and parking sensors.
Spending another $10,000 on the GTS brings you a head-up display, plus bigger wheels (19s rather than 18s), sportier pedals, larger rear brakes, and a 425-watt JBL audio instead of the 205-watt base system.
If you want a colour other than Monza Red, there’s an additional $500 charge for premium paints.
Current on-the-road pricing is just over $92,000 for the GT in NSW, but can vary from the mid $90K to mid $93K range depending on which state or territory you live in.
The previous A80 Supra was a 2+2 coupe with cramped rear seats, but the latest iteration is a strict two-seater – though feels roomier because there’s no partition immediately behind the seats – instead an exposed boot section.
The interior certainly looks more expensive than the inside of an 86, though the design is a bit of a Toyota-BMW mash-up.
BMW is the source for most switchgear, while the entire centre console (including gear lever) and climate controls will be familiar to any owner of one of the German brand’s cars.
The 8.8-inch infotainment display atop the dash is also from the Bavarians, though adopts a Toyota casing and a ‘Toyota Supra’ welcome screen (before opening up BMW’s iDrive operating system).
Very Japanese, though, is the instrument cluster that combines a physical, C-shaped rev counter with digital information displays.
The GT comes only with a black interior. The GTS has the option of red seats and red/black steering wheel.
The Supra’s sports seats hug you tightly, though the bolstering can be adjusted electrically, and ahead is an upright and relatively thin-rimmed steering wheel that isn’t to everyone’s taste.
Forward and rearward vision aren't outstanding, but better than you might expect from the Supra’s shallow, wraparound glass area and heavily sloped rear window. The main blind spot is the passenger-side C-pillar, which makes it a little trickier for checking approaching traffic when reversing.
A low-slung driving position fits the sports-car bill, and should put its owner quickly in the mood for a fun steer. And the Supra can definitely deliver on that crucial front.
It dives into corners with determination, and there’s a stack of grip even from the smaller wheels of the GT model, which are wrapped in racy Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber.
As the Supra sits poised on its outer-rear wheel, you can sense a strong hint of traditional BMW handling to the Toyota’s nature.
With a limited-slip diff helping to distribute the Supra’s chunky 500Nm to the ground and the powered rear wheels fitted with wide, grippy rubber, the Supra has confidence-lifting stability through corners. You can push harder on the throttle without worrying about the back end stepping out wildly and unexpectedly.
The steering is better than in the related Z4, though – more precise and more fluid. The steering is suitably direct and its weighting well judged. It just doesn’t provide the same level of communication as the 86’s steering.
A Sport mode gives the steering a bit of extra weight and stiffens the dampers, though for bumpier roads you can have the Supra in the softer Normal mode for extra compliance without dynamics turning messy.
The 1.5-tonne Supra is far from the lightest sports car around, and while entertaining to drive, it ultimately doesn’t feel as super-agile as the Porsche Cayman – which also positions its engine behind, rather than in front of, the driver.
Brake feel and response aren’t quite perfect, either, though the brakes aren’t short on bite.
The 3.0-litre ‘B58’ straight-six turbo under the bonnet will gain more power (up 35kW but same torque to match the also-updated Z4 M40i) later in 2020, but it doesn’t exactly feel undernourished in its current 250kW/500Nm guise.
Blessed with fantastic tractability and flexibility, the engine is a pleasure to use at any speed – including negligible turbo lag. It sounds just like a BMW six, which is either a good or bad thing depending on your perspective.
When the driver is in their own ‘sport’ mode, the six-cylinder turbo can propel the Supra from standstill to 100km/h in a claimed – but easily believable – 4.3 seconds.
The engine feels most alert in Sport mode, but is enjoyably responsive in Normal mode. It’s teamed with an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission that can do smoothness for regular driving, yet be quick enough at changing ratios for faster driving. Drivers can also change gears using paddle-shift levers.
Some buyers may miss the option of a proper manual gearbox.
In addition to the power hike, Supra’s MY21 update will bring some suspension tweaks, plus new under-bonnet braces for increased chassis rigidity. Let’s hope they aren’t a retrograde step for ride comfort, which right now is impressively comfortable for such a capable sports car.
Even long freeway drives can be enjoyable thanks to the GT’s relative suppleness and its comfortable seats.
We registered average fuel economy of 11.2 litres per 100km. That’s a fair climb above its official 7.7L/100km, though does incorporate dynamic driving.
The Supra will even accept 91-octane fuel – though whether owners will want to use this lower-grade fuel in their sports car is another matter. BMW’s version of the B58 engine in the Z4 M40i requires 98-octane.
Cabin storage could be better. There’s not much beyond the glovebox, centre console cupholders and a net pocket on the passenger side. At least there’s a proper spot for a smartphone – and the tray features inductive charging.
The boot is quite handy, though. Nearly 300L in capacity and accessed via a hatch, there’s good width and practical features including tie-down points, elastic securing strap, bag hooks, net storage and a 12-volt socket.
Toyota covers the Supra with a five-year warranty and charges a reasonable $385 for each annual service (or every 15,000km, whichever comes sooner) for the first five capped-priced visits.
Ideally, the Supra would have a manual gearbox option, as well as fewer obvious visual links to BMW – though the mechanical relationship certainly has a positive influence on the road.
The Supra successfully continues Toyota’s sports car renaissance, with a combination of coupe body, entertaining handling and powerful turbocharged performance you won’t find anywhere else for less than six figures drive-away.
A Nissan 370Z Nismo is cheaper but slower and getting very long in the tooth. The BMW M2 Competition costs more than $100,000. And to get a Porsche Cayman with comparable acceleration, you’ll need to find about $150,000.
With an adaptive suspension that can provide some suppleness and a drivetrain that feels relaxed and effortless at lower speeds, the Supra is also a sports car that’s easy to live with every day.
There’s just the question of whether buyers should wait for the MY21 upgrade due towards the end of the year…