It’s hard to remember a new Toyota vehicle that’s had this much attention around it. Yes, the new RAV4 was a big deal, and the new Camry was also important. But neither of them had car guys (and gals) drooling, dreaming, and scouring social media for info like the new Supra.
And the Supra is a very important car for the brand. As Toyota has made huge efforts to make each new vehicle more exciting and better performing, they needed a halo vehicle to show what the brand is really made of. Enter one of the most popular performance cars it’s ever offered. Welcome to the 2020 Toyota GR Supra.
Toyota Supra Exterior – Madly Muscular
Before we go further, let’s address the 800 lb. Gorilla in the Supra. (Ok, a Gorilla probably wouldn’t fit.) Toyota co-developed their sports coupe with BMW, and under the skin, you’ll find BMW’s new Z4. So, while the chassis and hard mounting points remain the same, the exterior is completely different.
And it’s clear, this is not conservative European design. This is bold, outrageous, and in our tester’s Nitro Yellow, impossible not to notice. Which is good, you’d hate to miss seeing it. Or maybe not so good, if you want to fly under the radar.
Toyota says there is a strong kinship to the 4th-gen Supra that was made famous in the Fast & Furious franchise. You do get the long hood, short deck, powerful stance motif, but really it stands alone. At the front a prominent center grille – which looks vaguely Alfa Romeo-ish – is flanked by two large intakes. Side intakes on the front flow up around the six LED headlights and form a unique look that stands out, day or night. A splitter style front spoiler finishes off the look.
We seldom talk about the roof of a car, but on the Supra it’s notable for the double-bubble look, that reminds us of Abarth race cars of the 60’s. Back then, they needed to do that to create enough head room for drivers wearing helmets. It’s a cool touch.
The profile is all muscle and all business, with massive fender flares, cut-in vents, and handsome 19-inch forged alloy twin spoke alloy wheels. Swinging around to the back, the first thing that catches your eye is the integrated spoiler molded into the rear hatch. A sweeping rear fender line drapes over the shapely rear LED lights, while the backup lamps look like afterburners in the bottom center of the trapezoidal rear bumper.
Toyota Supra Interior – Bespoke Bavarian
Inside, the difference between the Supra and BMW Z4 is much less – but that’s no bad thing. We’d be willing to wager that those 14-way power sport seats are from BMW – they are superb, extremely supportive, but not confining – important in a snug cockpit – even quite handsome.
The quality of materials is BMW excellent, and the layout is generally very good. In fact, in one way it’s better than the Bimmer. The simple dashboard design with a large central tachometer and digital speedo is a quick read. In the Z4, you get a similar version of what we had in our M340i tester, with a tachometer that twists in a counterclockwise manner, and we didn’t care for it at all.
Being a Premium model, we also enjoyed an 8.8-inch info-tainment touchscreen display with navigation and Apple CarPlay. A nice step up from the base model’s 6.5-inch screen. We also liked the optional 12-speaker JBL audio system – notice those big grilles in the parcel shelf!
It also uses BMW’s iDrive touchpad rotary control system, which is really excellent, except we couldn’t get the display any brighter than a dim screen during daylight, no matter how we tried…. frustrating!
Internet to the rescue – it is fixable at the dealer; but they have to hack into the system settings. We were able to shine a flashlight on the sensor to create a brighter image for you to see…but in real world it’s too dim.
In more practical matters, this is a hatchback, and its cargo hold is tight, measuring in at 9.9 cubic feet. Less than a 2020 Corvette (12.6 ft3) , but more than a Nissan 370Z (6.9 ft3).
Toyota Supra Performance – Supracalifragilistic!
Well, hope you don’t mind the odd Mary Poppins reference, but they both do fly!
Under that Toyota badge is BMW’s lovely 3.0-liter turbo straight six, that produces 335 hp and 365 lb.-ft of torque coming in at just 1,600 rpm. Like the Bavarian automaker, we think Toyota is seriously underestimating the power, but ok, wink-wink. (Note as we went to press, the 2021 Supra was announced to have 382 hp, the same as the BMW M340i, that we recently tested. Rumor has it that the 2021 actually produces even more than that!)
We don’t know if you’d really need the extra power of the 2021, as our tester was a rocketship! 0-60 mph is easily under 4 seconds, and the 8-speed automatic is near brutal in Sport mode, punching you hard in the back every shift. The soundtrack is fantastic – this engine sings and it is everything you could want in a sports car.
Another reward of Sport mode is when you back off the power, there’s a lusty exhaust crackle. (Or you might say, fart). Keep the mode in Standard and the power/transmission are impressively smooth and refined. (And less likely to catch the attention of the local police.)
You might want to keep it in Sport mode for less melodious reasons – it sharpens the throttle response and gives more aggressive active differential tuning. It definitely feels edgy and alive – and it ramps up your pulse rate as well.
This is a true sports car, and the steering feel is precise and perfectly weighted – a true, point-and-shoot chassis. It builds up massive cornering loads – those sport seats will cruelly squeeze your hips as you take on your favorite on-ramp. The massive Brembo front brakes grab with impressive authority, and excellent feel for easy modulation.
There are more ways to push buttons to push your buttons – there’s a Traction Mode that reduces traction and stability control, so you can hang it out, and Launch Control for massively quick acceleration. You might want a racetrack– and a good driver’s school – to experience those mentioned above – this is a seriously fast car.
And yet, we come away so impressed with how comfortable and civil the Supra is when you are not living out your Fast & Furious fantasies. The noise level is relatively low, and the ride surprisingly supple – even with those large 19-inch wheels and tires and short wheelbase.
There is a fly in the ointment – a horrible wind buffeting that comes when the windows are down at any speed over 35 mph. It’s painfully loud. Luckily, the aftermarket is already on it, and you can get a nice set of carbon-fiber look panels that fit near the mirrors, blend in beautifully, and cost under $200.
Supra performance. Toyota Value.
How much for this screaming yellow zonker? This thrill ride for two? The 2020 GR Supra 3.0 starts at $49,990. It’s pretty loaded, with all the performance goodies on our test car. Just a few less luxuries.
Our 3.0 Premium tester is the sweet spot, starting at $53,990, and the extra dough gets you the larger info-tainment system with Apple CarPlay, JBL audio system, heated leather sport seats and heads up display. Our tester also had the Driver Assist Package ($1,195) that adds to the comprehensive safety features with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Parking Sensors with Emergency Braking function. This is a necessary option in our minds – visibility is tight out of the coupe’s body, the extra help seeing and being protected is a real bonus.
Our gorgeous Nitro Yellow was $425, with other goodies like Emergency Kit ($59), Cargo Tote ($49), Paint Protection Film ($395), Carbon Fiber Mirror Caps ($925), Carpet Cargo Mat ($80) and wheel locks ($65). Add in $995 for Delivery and we totaled $58,138.
There is also a Launch Edition starting at $55,250 – limited to the first 1,500 sold, you might want to move on that. Or, if you’re looking to spend less, the good news is there will be a turbo 4-cylinder model offered for 2021.
Competitors for our tester would naturally include BMW’s Z4 – at $67,750, a significant amount more. The BMW M2 would be an excellent choice, at $66,050, you pay extra, but you would get a rear seat. And a usable trunk. On the sports car front, the Porsche Cayman comparably equipped will go over $70k. It is a sublime sports car, but at that price, and with only a turbocharged four-cylinder, It’s hard to not to go for the Supra.
Stunning to look at. Thrilling to drive. European engineering with Japanese value. The Toyota GR Supra is an amazing sports car. If you love cars like we do, look no further.
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.