The Supra name isn’t supposed to be taken lightly — it’s supposed to be the flagship Toyota performance machine. Yet for many on the outside looking in, it seems like the Japanese automaker has outsourced its sports car to BMW. Yes, the Supra was co-developed with the BMW Z4, and it utilizes mostly BMW parts, including one of the most important parts of all, the engine.
But after sending the new Supra around Summit Point Motorsports Park with an almost unlimited number of laps, one thing is clear: this is a fantastic sports car and one that lives up to the high standard set by hardcore fans, enthusiasts, and gearheads. Anyone concerned that a Toyota Supra can’t be made from German ingredients has to get some seat time in this car because it’s impressive just how capable the new rear-wheel-drive coupe is.
Sizing it Up
To start, the Supra is tiny. It’s just about six inches longer in overall length when compared to Toyota’s 86 (also known as the Subaru BRZ), yet it features a shorter wheelbase, a wider track, and is 0.3 inches taller. It looks like true a sports car, too, with its long hood, short deck, wide hips, and exaggerated fender flares. Because it’s a pure-bred sports car, there are no rear seats and there’s a significant amount of reinforcements throughout the chassis to ensure the car is stiff and responsive. Toyota set out to make a car that is more rigid than the 86, and managed that feat by 2.3 times, getting closer to the carbon fiber supercar wonder that is the Lexus LFA.
That’s impressive considering there is no carbon fiber in the Supra. The doors and hood are made with aluminum to help keep weight down, but it’s still a bit heavy at just around 3,400 lbs. For reference, the ideal sports car is probably the Porsche Cayman (in fact, Toyota benchmarked the Cayman S during its development) and that weighs about 3,050 lbs. Other sports car enthusiasts might bring up the base Chevrolet Corvette, which is also lighter than the Supra, as is the ancient Nissan 370Z, but other mid-range-priced sports cars like the Chevy Camaro and Ford Mustang are heavier (although those have four seats).
Under the Hood
On paper, the Supra isn’t going to wow you. The turbocharged inline-six cylinder engine (a BMW staple) makes 335 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque, sending all that power to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic. The numbers don’t seem very high in the world of 500-hp cars, but trust me: The Supra is fast. It gets to highway speeds in 4.1 seconds, a fast sprint to be sure thanks to a launch control function. And like many BMWs, the exhaust crackles and burps when you let off the throttle. The responsiveness of the drivetrain is excellent, but you can’t help but wonder what life would be like if there was a manual Supra available. The automatic is a ZF unit, though, which is also known as the benchmark in automatic transmissions.
The Supra features a fancy active differential to help keep that power going to where it is most needed by adjusting the lock-up from zero to 100 percent. And then there’s the incredible amount of grip afforded by the Michelin Pilot Sport Plus tires. The Supra sticks to the road, which was an issue with the 86.
The steering is a bit on the light side, which seems like the complete opposite from what is usually found on German-made sports cars, but the Supra is extremely agile and adept at quick transitions. It has an adaptive and adjustable suspension, which means that it’s always working to deliver an engaging ride and can be tweaked by the driver to provide more feel and different driving experience if needed.
On the Track
There are two important things that happen when you take the Supra around a truncated setup of the Shenandoah Circuit at Summit Point Motorsport Park: First, you have a lot of fun at every corner and second, you pick up a lot of speed at every straight. Follow the pro’s line and guidance and the Supra is a sharp tool that can carve up the track. It’s so good at reading your inputs and making them happen on the road. While some sports cars are so fast, twitchy, and so stiff that they require nerves of steel to confidently pilot around the track, the Supra was happy to go at your pace, letting you build up the experience necessary to get faster around the track. Better yet, the car feels balanced and rotates easily through the corners (or even slide if you want it to) before understeering. Switching through the standard and sport mode sees some significant changes in the way the transmission and engine exhaust note behave, as well as how the stability and traction control systems intervene.
See Also: 2020 Toyota Supra Prototype First Drive Impressions
In case it’s not clear yet, the Supra is a blast on the track, and if you were wondering how the Toyota feels in comparison to a BMW, well I haven’t driven the related Z4 on track yet, but very few BMW M vehicles feel this confidence-inspiring and fun-to-drive on the track. The Supra truly feels like a big brother to the happy-go-lucky 86 in regards to how it drives on the track. It’s both a very capable car and an eager learning tool, helping you get better on the track with each lap and having fun in the process. Brakes were fading on the test cars, but that can be chalked up to the hard laps on the track by a bunch of eager journalists. With four-piston Brembo brakes up front, and a single piston floating caliper for the rears, the Supra features a similar setup to the Cayman S, yet the Toyota is heavier, which could lead to this braking discrepancy.
Simply put, the Supra feels like what would happen if a Porsche Cayman was front-engined. Seeing as the Cayman is pretty much the benchmark for sports car purity, that’s a huge achievement.
It may not be as important to bring up, but the interior of the Supra is a mix of familiar BMW parts with a Toyota-esque covering. The switchgear and materials are all BMW, including the infotainment system, but that comes with a few added benefits as well like the nice digital dashboard, available head-up display, and available wireless Apple CarPlay support.
See Also: 10 Unlikely New Vehicles with More Power than the 2020 Toyota Supra
The cabin is a little tight too — I had some issues fitting with my helmet. Interestingly, the Supra is a coupe that features a hatchback-style liftgate, although the trunk opening is slim and awkward. It might be difficult for buyers to stuff their golf bags in the Supra, but because there’s no divider between the trunk space and the cabin, you can just throw your stuff into the trunk from the seats. And as sporty as the Supra is, it feels fine off the track as well, with a smooth ride and supportive seats to let you enjoy the longer trips.
Pricing and Features
OK, so that’s not what most sports car buyers needed to know, but the Supra has a number of features that push its appeal beyond the enthusiasts. Safety features like forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and lane departure warning are among the standard driver’s aids, while you can also get adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, parking sensors, and rear cross traffic alert with an additional package. The vehicle has a base price of $50,920 including destination, while buyers can get a Premium model for $54,920. There’s also a limited run of a Launch Edition model for $56,180, which gets a special look for the interior and exterior. All cars come with the same engine and output as well as the other sporting essentials like the adaptive dampers and active differential.
The price point of the Supra is interesting in how it compares to what Toyota deems its true competition, the Porsche Cayman S. While the Supra feels as much fun, sharp, and balanced as the Porsche, it’s much more affordable (almost $10,000 separate the two) begging the question: are they the same buyers? Porsche buyers will want something more premium and get it with the Cayman. The Supra is also much more expensive (and a bazillion times more modern) than say a Nissan 370Z and has way less power. A base Corvette costs about the same as a Supra, but base models are far less sporty than this Supra, while better-equipped Chevys will be more expensive. Finally, the Supra feels far more of a sports car than the Pony car duo of the Mustang and Camaro, although those two cover a much broader range of performance and price. Has Toyota made a car for a very small sliver of the sports car market?
The Verdict: 2020 Toyota Supra Review
Market strategy aside, the Toyota Supra is fun, fast and unique, even if it uses a lot of BMW parts. Past Supras gained a legendary following not just due to their performance, but because they featured overbuilt Toyota engines that made them a dream with tuners and the aftermarket community. Time will tell if the new Supra will gain this following, but so far the aftermarket shops are all very interested. And while that’s being all sorted out, buyers who don’t have any desire to modify their sports car will be very happy with this new Supra.