SEATTLE, WA — If there’s one thing that car loyalists do, is holding their favorite automakers to task if one of their most iconic cars should radically change. This is the case with the latest Supra from Toyota. When the car was first released, nearly 40 years ago, it made quite the splash as an affordable, reliable sports car that performed and looked very good, during its heyday.
A non-Toyota engine?
Fast forward to 2020 and now we have Toyota releasing a new Supra, however, its partnership with BMW left many of its loyal fans in a bit of an ire. The fact is, Toyota doesn’t make an inline six-cylinder engine and BMW already had a formidable chassis and powertrain available. The match seems ideal on paper. A high-revving, turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six with a lightweight chassis. Right? Well, the BMW influence didn’t just stop with the chassis and powertrain. As you dive inside, you’ll see a lot of BMW design cues.
After spending a week with our test car, it’s easy to see why Toyota fell in love with the BMW engine. Even though it’s rated for 335 horsepower and 365 lb-ft of torque – its performance seems to make you feel those numbers are a bit understated. With a 0-60 time of under 4-seconds (yeah, I know Toyota claims 4.1 – but nevermind that – it’s more like 3.8), and the way it pins your body into the seat, it has performance that belies its rated power.
The EPA rates the fuel economy 24 miles per gallon in the city and up to 31 on the highway. However, it’s difficult to obtain those numbers when one drives in such a way to keep the turbo spooled up.
Power is fed into an ultra-slick 8-speed, dual-clutch transmission that makes short work of swiftly and adeptly slamming through the gears faster than a fat man pounding down a Big Mac. Power is delivered to the rear wheels.
Its exhaust sound is also very noteworthy. It is, quite easily, the best-sounding exhaust I’ve ever heard on any 6-cylinder engine. With sport-mode selected, you’ll have more drama with spits and sputters from back-pressure – think of it as a similar sound to that of a Jaguar F-Type SVR. It’s a “mini-Jag”.
Looks great on the outside and inside:
It’s hard to not like the design of the Supra. Its combination of sexy and masculine body lines are definitely eye-catching. The only dismay to be found here is the use of fake vents. For example, the “vent” on the doors doesn’t actually go anywhere. It’s obvious that the designers use these faux-vents to help break-up the body lines, but come on Toyota – who do you think you’re fooling?
There are so many cool aspects of its design, but perhaps my personal favorite is the back-end. With design cues of the Lexus LC500 tail lamps and the dual exhaust tips, it simply looks like it means business.
Inside, you’ll find very comfortable seats that are multi-adjustable, however, getting in and out of the car can be a challenge for anyone over 5’9”. I’m 5’11” and found I had to tuck my head down a bit while getting in and out, due to the roof design and how low it is. Is this a minor inconvenience you can live with? Not sure, Only you can answer that for yourself.
Creature comforts abound inside, as do driver aides. Everything from adaptive cruise control, navigation, and a JBL-powered audio system. The screen is obviously “borrowed” from BMW but that’s okay. While the infotainment system does support a variety of audio source options, the overall sound quality was rather dismal when comparing it to other JBL systems that are present in other Toyota vehicles. It has a sub-par bass response and really lacked the punch we were hoping for.
Seating comfort is excellent. The seats hold your butt squarely in place, even during aggressive driving. Additionally, the side bolsters also aid in keeping your body from shifting around that much.
Where the Supra really shines is on the open back road or on a track. In many ways, it’s the Mazda Miata-like car we’ve always hoped for. Light-weight with enough power to get you in trouble. While the steering felt a bit lighter than we’d prefer, its overall handling is sublime. Taking corners fast with a nearly non-existent body-roll is the name of the game here. No matter how hard you push the Supra, the more it seems to beg you to push it harder and faster. The braking system never showed signs of fade, even after hours of rigorous driving.
For many of us who love to drive fun cars, the 2020 Supra offers all of the drama we were hoping for. Other than missing a manual transmission option, we couldn’t be more impressed with what Toyota and BMW have been able to put together.