When I think Toyota Supra, I’m immediately taken back to the chase scene in the Fast and the Furious – for those who haven’t seen it, this particular model is a bright orange 1994 Supra Mark IV. I jest. You've all seen the movie. And that was a very different Supra, too.
In theory, that's no bad thing is it?
After being acquainted with the 2021 Toyota Supra GR GTS for little more than a few moments you’ll quickly discover its lead role – to make the driver happy and put a smile on your face. This is a driver’s car, and it is supposed to be fun - with a practical usable edge.
When you're behind the wheel of the Supra, it's an exhilarating drive, thanks in part to the finesse of that 3.0-litre turbocharged inline six engine. For MY21, it's received a boost – from 250kW to 285kW between 5800-6500rpm and peak torque of 500Nm delivered through a slightly higher range of 1800-5000rpm (it was previously 1600-4500rpm).
The improvement can be seen in the numbers, with the Supra ditching 0.2 seconds off its 0-100km/h run, now at 4.1 seconds (previously 4.3). Small gains sure, but gains nonetheless.
Crucially, the Supra has a 50:50 weight distribution ratio, which is always the hallmark of an ideal sportscar. That should, in theory, deliver near-perfect real world balance, stability and in turn, enhance driving connection and precision. The engine drives the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission – only. Sigh. Unfortunately, this Supra doesn't offer a manual gearbox.
So, we know this car is fast (on paper) and it's something you feel through the seat of your pants as soon as you punch the accelerator pedal. It's super responsive and there's no doubting its straight line speed. It's got more than enough real world power, revving cleanly out to 6500rpm. It's a classic sportscar in the sense that it wants to be driven fast.
The Supra has two drive modes and when you make the switch from Normal to Sport, the throttle response sharpens up and the engine screams a little louder through the exhaust, too. No complaints from this road tester. The howl is music to my ears.
Toyota has made tweaks to the suspension set up, the stability control, adjustable dampers and electric power steering. The overall result is confidence and balance in corners, and a 'point and shoot' feel to the way the Supra responds to commands. It's an intuitive combinations, with an LSD assisting drive out of the corners, and it's not easily unsettled either. The steering is light at low speed, firm enough as the speed rises, and the turning circle is usefully tight around town.
Head out of the confines of the city and onto typical Australian regional roads and we found that the electronic dampers were able to manage a range of surfaces and coped with bumps effortlessly.
The only major issue is rear three-quarter visibility. It's not an issue just because the driving position is low, it's the thick rear quarters that cut into your view such that you need to get used to it. So much so that reversing is a rather daunting exercise where you may find yourself relying heavily on the camera, or doing it the old fashioned way by sticking your head out the window. I know I did.
What's more, the cabin noise is noticeable at speed - especially so on coarse chip surfaces. We measured this at 80km/h and saw a reading of 72db. This is high considering luxury sports cars we've tested in the past recorded low 60s at the same speed.
Apart from these shortfalls, it delivers on one thing in impressive style - fun from behind the wheel.
|Engine||3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six|
|Power||285kW at 5800-6500rpm|
|Torque||500Nm at 1600-4500rpm|
|Claimed Fuel Economy||7.7L/100km|
|Tested Fuel Economy||11.7L/100km|
|Boot Volume||290 litres|
|ANCAP Safety Rating||Not yet tested|
|Warranty||5 years unlimited kilometre warranty|
|Main Competitors||Porsche Cayman S, BMW M2, Ford Mustang GT|
|Price as tested||$97,626|
Unfortunately, any argument about cars generally veers toward price. The GTS doesn’t carry the pricetag you’d expect from your average small Toyota and that’s thanks to the BMW-stamped components that make up this car – starting with the engine. Still value at this end of the market is a perception thing more than mechanical. There’s not a lot of 'Toyota' to be seen inside either, with features such as the infotainment system, controls and gear selector also handed over from the German manufacturer. Still, plenty of you have commented that you're getting a BMW for Toyota money in real terms.
The car we tested, the Toyota GR Supra GTS starts from $97,126 plus on road costs. Our tester was finished in signature 'Fuji White', which adds $500 to the invoice, so all up you’re looking at $97,626. If that burns too big a hole in your pocket, there’s always the entry-grade Supra GT which will set you back $87,126 before on-road costs.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s expensive, right? Right. After all, it’s sporting a Toyota badge, not a BMW. How does it stack up against its competitors though?
This car goes head-to-head with the Porsche Cayman S, which starts from $135,500. It also battles the BMW M2, which starts from $102,900 for the Competition grade. Steering away from European cars for a tick, the Ford Mustang GT Fastback looks like an absolute steal from $64,190 (all prices are excluding on road costs).
Suddenly the price of our Toyota isn’t looking so bad.
As we arrive at the fifth generation, there’s no doubting the Supra has become more radical on the outside. It is, however, still in keeping with that typical Supra styling – a long bonnet and plenty of edgy Japanese inspiration. The exterior is therefore where we see most of the ‘Toyota-ness.’
The front styling is dramatic, in a good way, with the bulky LED adaptive headlights enhanced by red flashes, which sit in the headlamp clusters. The side view is curvaceous, bold and robust with the rear haunches easily one of the most dominant features of the car.
The Supra scores Michelin Pilot Super Sport-wrapped 19-inch alloy wheels. Its booty has shape too with a duck-tail spoiler, fat exhaust pipes and a funky addition of a race-style rear fog/reverse light. While you might not be sold immediately on the Supra’s design, take a walk around one a few times and you’ll see that all of the proportions are well-calculated and neatly aligned.
Take a seat inside the cabin and you'll see that it's also well thought out and comfortable. In this particular model you feel as though you’re in a genuine sportscar with red detailing throughout, sports seats, alloy pedals, Alcantara and carbon fibre inserts. With the clever mixture of textures, the interior feels almost as luxurious as it does sporty.
As stated above, plenty inside is carried over from BMW. One feature I’m grateful for is the infotainment system. We haven’t held back in the past in saying that Toyota’s could do with a refresh, so out with the outdated and in with the much more user-friendly 8.8-inch touchscreen.
If you haven’t used this system before, it’s not overly complex like many others and can be controlled using the touchscreen or there's the option of the BMW iDrive controller. You can also access various features via the steering wheel, which is ergonomically designed and intuitive.
The Supra is also equipped with integrated satellite navigation, digital radio, wireless smartphone charging and head-up display. Unfortunately, someone, somewhere, thought it a good idea to exclude Apple CarPlay and Android Auto from this list. A big no-no for cars in 2021.
All in all, the cabin is deceptively spacious. Head and leg-room is more than sufficient and there is an adequate range of space for the power-adjustable seat (with lumbar support) to shift backwards.
There isn't an abundance of storage up front with a tiny open compartment behind the two cup holders. You get two additional bottle holders, one in either door bin, which are compact and you miss out on a centre console.
The boot is reasonably sized though, measuring in at 290 litres. You can't open the boot via a button on the outside, there isn't one. You need to access the boot switch inside the cabin or use the key fob.
One feature that plenty of you have taken issue with, and we do too, is the fake vents that exist allover the exterior of the car. They are there just to be there, but no air actually passes through them. Perhaps Toyota will open them up and utilise them in the future? Functional vents are much more appealing than fake vents.
The Supra is well catered for in terms of safety, with a suite of features including AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, seven airbags, lane departure alert, a reversing camera, tyre pressure monitoring, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
The Supra is covered by Toyota's five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty and the services are capped at $385 for the first five.
There's little doubt the 2021 Toyota Supra GR GTS is a refined and impressive sports car. In many ways, it presents as the ideal melding of German ingenuity and Japanese flair for design. Its higher price is indicative of the engineering that has gone into it, even if that jars with what you might expect from a Toyota.