Toyota/BMW collaboration means the return of an iconic Japanese sportscar
This is the all-new fifth generation Toyota Supra, reborn after a gap of 17 years, thanks to a little collaboration with BMW – most of its underpinnings and much of its interior is shared with the BMW Z4. But while the Z4 is a roadster, this is firmly a coupe with a fixed roof implying extra rigidity, and hence more sportiness. The cross-continent team-up was because Toyota wanted to adhere to the Supra tradition of a straight six cylinder engine, although there is now a 2.0-litre four cylinder unit (also a BMW motor) also available.
Still the suspension set-up, stability and traction electronics and steering have all been tuned and reconfigured by Toyota, which apparently also insisted on a quality upgrade on some of the German-sourced components to go into their cars. Which is terribly amusing when you think how far that German/Japanese engineering interplay has come. This of course makes the new Supra a confusing car, particularly for a previous Supra owner like yours truly (I owned a MkII 1984 Supra back in the 90s, still one of my favourites).
Look past all of that, and what you find is an absolutely extraordinary-looking car, that’s undeniably arresting and eye-catching in the metal. It starts with a huge engorged bonnet, slims to a compact cabin, throws in a race-car double-bubble roof and grafts on a ducktail spoiler with Porsche 911 rear haunches. Along the way there are contours, cuts, scallops and gills where you simply wouldn’t expect them to be, and yet the whole is a captivating piece of sculpture that to the uninitiated could be mistaken for something far more exotic than a Toyota.
Be in no doubt the straight-six delivers. 335bhp and 500Nm of torque from just 1600rpm gives it a 0-62mph acceleration time of 4.3 and a limited top speed of 155mph. This translates to head-pinning performance, a squirmy rear end grappling for grip it finds momentarily, and a rising crescendo of sonorous sextet orchestral manoeuvres in mechanics. In other words it sounds fantastic.
The 8-speed automatic is snappy in response to fingers on paddles, but for the best judged changes and even a bit of drama, leave it in full auto sports mode. No manual is available. To drive it’s a cross between a muscle car and a sportscar, that is you are constantly aware of the thrusting front far ahead of you, and the need to coax and control the nose into a corner before planting it. On the other hand the wheelbase is shorter than the smaller Toyota 86 sportscar, which actually ensures agility and precise dartiness. Trust is required to exploit and get the best out of the experience.
Around town, it’s less of an event behind the wheel, apart from attempting to hunt for the Toyota bits, and failing (well apart from the instrument panel and the badge on the steering wheel hub), but it’s comfy and spacious, with a handy reach-through behind the seats straight into the generous (for a sportscar) luggage compartment. There’s a great stereo, plus intuitive ergonomics, switchgear and infotainment. But it’s performance is on a leash, and while the size is suitable for city slicking, somehow you feel it’s too big, or is it just its unabashed presence?
Either way, whether posing in the urban jungle, devouring back roads, or demolishing motorway distances (another forte) this is a great car. And it better be at prices starting from just over £54,000 – even the four-cylinder sits at £46k plus. Is it a Supra? Yes absolutely. Because Toyota says it is, and badge-engineering is neither a rare nor a new concept in today’s car industry. But if you’re coming from the sacrosanct Supra lineage of the past, you may find the new GR (Gazoo Racing) Supra a little alienating. Don’t worry you’ll find what you’re looking for, a classic 90s Fast & Furious style Supra, in the classifieds, and they’re mostly cheaper anyway. If you see a nice MkII for sale, let me know!
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