Anyone who has read more than a few of my articles would know I have a certain penchant towards Toyota and Lexus products, and my mini-fleet of cars at home definitely shows it. As rumors swelled over the past decade of the coming of a new Supra my excitement grew. But there was also a worry brewing. Would the new Supra be the car everyone wanted? Would it live up to the absolute legend of the car its Mark IV predecessor had become?
After the BMW-Toyota partnership was announced in 2012, it was obvious the new Supra would not totally be a Toyota. What followed were years of camouflaged prototypes and by the time Toyota was set to release the new Supra, the excitement had all but died. It was just a BMW with some Toyota badges. Plus, even though a manual transmission made sense, Toyota was not going to sell it equipped with one. Even with the help of Toyotas racing partner, Gazoo Racing (the GR in Toyota GR Supra), it all seemed like a disappointment waiting to happen. Despite this, I was still eager to give the GR Supra a chance.
This is our second take on the Supra. In a weird twist, my chance at the 2020 GR Supra was brought by the same thing that has nearly shut the country completely down. COVID19. With auto shows, driving experiences and general events postponed or canceled, this Supra was thrown into the press car fleet for the next available writer to get their hands on. It also meant I had quite a different experience in the GR Supra than most. Normally I ramble about how they are to live with and commute in as I live my normal life, but with a new car. These days are different. I am working from home and only living “normal life” as is necessary. This past week in the Supra forced me to get out and actually drive. It forced me to use it for entertainment, rather than a commuting appliance. It’s a twist from my normal reviews, but a treatement I believe the GR Supra needed. It needs to be driven, it needs to be experienced, and then you will find what the GR Supra really is. A true sporting experience.
I’ll say it up front, the experience of driving the Supra is undeniably good. With its burbly exhaust and stunning looks, it drew attention before I could even pull it out of the driveway. Social distancing guidelines and a general fear of others are about the only things that kept me from being swarmed. Whether it was people yelling across a couple of parking spaces, rolling down their windows to make a comment, or breaking their necks as I passed by, the Supra commands the road. Though its stature is small, the personality of the car is not. That includes the driving experience.
The GR Supra is not a blisteringly fast car. It *is* quick though. Though Toyota claims 335 hp out of the 3.0L I6 Turbo engine, my very scientific “butt dyno” says it is quite a bit more. The way the turbo delivers power is linear as it accelerates the roughly 3400 lb car to 60 mph from zero in 4 seconds. Even though the 8-speed automatic transmission is much maligned as the only option available in the 2020 Supra, it is about as quick as anything I have driven this side of a true Dual Clutch Transmission.
The suspension is also tuned quite well. The car never felt like it was crashing over bumps or unsettled by rough pavement. It charged on while remaining comfortable. An admirable trait in a sports car. In the twisty bits, the Supra felt light but still inspired a level of confidence you rarely find in front-engine, rear-wheel-drive automobiles. Under hard cornering, the car never felt like it wanted to understeer. The short wheelbase makes rearward weight transfer easy. Exiting corners under throttle was a true joy. Occasionally the back kicked out but never felt out of sorts.
Brake fade was minimal, even after a few harder than expected stops. Regardless of what I threw at it, the Supra never felt scary. Having driven quite a few dedicated sports cars, I found The Supra to be one where it rarely felt like you were going to outdrive the road. On a track, you might ask for more power, but there are very few situations you can encounter on a normal road where the Supra will not give you what you want from depressing your right foot down on the skinny pedal.
While the interior lacked the drama found everywhere else on the Supra, it reminded you of the car’s true origins at every look. The steering wheel looks somewhat awkward with the oval Toyota badge, replacing the perfectly symmetrical BMW roundel. The iDrive system, while very good with its wireless Apple CarPlay, easy to use interface, and Toyota logos are still very BMW. The seat controls? BMW. The distinct red glow of the buttons at night? Exclusively BMW. The car as a whole is a BMW and really, I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
As tested, this 2020 GR Supra comes in at just a hint over $56,000. Now that is quite a bit for a Toyota, but when you get down to brass tacks, this is really a BMW with Toyota badging. It has BMW leather, BMW technology, and BMW mechanicals and makes for what I consider to be a better-looking car for less than the BMW Z40 M40i.
The Supra does have some flaws though. First, the wind buffeting with the window down is actually painful. The surging pulses of bass rip apart your head at anything above 35 mph. An aftermarket carbon fiber wind deflector has since been developed, but that should have been fixed during testing. There is also a harmonic vibration buzzing that occurs up front between 3700 and 4500 RPMs. I hoped it was just my particular press car with 7000 miles of hard driving under its belt, but after further consultation with other journalists, I can honestly say that problem extends to more than just one car.
Though these are a few minor issues, the 2020 Toyota GR Supra checks all of the boxes that need to be checked to call something a great sports car. Those initial issues should get resolve. It drives well, looks great, and gives you that fizzy feeling inside when you’re on a backcountry road. So yes it is a BMW in Toyota clothing but I don’t care. It’s an amazing car and that alone should make you appreciate it.